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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tiger is Regaining Confidence-Heisman Watch - Big Ten Football award winners


Tiger is Regaining Confidence
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The famed Santa Ana winds are forecast to shatter the Southern Cal tranquility with gusts north of 35 mph for the first two days of action at the Chevron World Challenge
It’s a condition that’s caused by the convergence of hot and cold air, or so it was explained to your dimwitted correspondent, and an altogether flawless metaphor for the crossroads where Tiger Woods now finds himself.
In the span of four weeks the Chevron’s host has gone from project to projected winner. Two solid weeks in Oz and a press corps with short-term memories issues will do that.
Like the expected Santa Ana gale, Woods is sailing at the moment, at least compared to where he was at this juncture last year. One member of “Team Tiger” pointed out during Wednesday’s pro-am at Sherwood Country Club that there is a spring back in the former No. 1’s step that has been missing for some time.
Let’s be clear, even a win this week at Woods’ 18-man member-member will not declare mission accomplished – not after two winless and injury-riddled calendars. Even Woods knows that.
“There’s always more to go,” he smiled. “That’s the beauty of golf.”
Thursday’s gale will not so much be the winds of change as much as the mark of a change in outlook for Woods. Last year at Chevron he had one trick, a draw, the byproduct of a swing that still had that new-car smell and an instructional manual from swing coach Sean Foley he hadn’t entirely digested.
His playoff loss to a hot-handed Graeme McDowell felt like progress, but he knew he was much closer to the starting line than the finished product. He didn’t play again until Torrey Pines in January followed by the Dubai Desert Classic, where he struggled with a one-dimensional game and closed with a wind-whipped 75 to finish tied for 20th.
“Anybody who makes swing changes, you get exposed in the wind,” Woods said. “At Dubai I felt I should have won the tournament; a right-to-left wind cost me eight shots on certain holes. I didn’t have the ability to maneuver the ball left to right.”
Now, however, he’s put in the “reps” and the “traj” is where he wants it – TrackMan and a pair of ball-striking clinics in Australia say so. At the Australian Open he hit the ball well enough to win but largely putted like the guy who finishes 20th. A week later at the Presidents Cup his 2-3-0 record veiled another solid week tee to green through three seasons and as many different winds.
From his vantage point in central Florida Foley watched the happenings Down Under with no small amount of satisfaction. If Dubai’s winds earlier this year exposed Woods’ weaknesses, the conditions and competition in Australia were the best sign to date Woods was headed in the right direction.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but there are lot of positive signs. There’s not a lot of people who can flight it like that,” Foley said. “Accuracy and control over distance and trajectory is a beautiful thing.”
Yet what Foley has learned over the last year is that with Woods baby steps are perceived as a weakness. Third place at the Australian Open may look like a beauty queen but with Woods everything is magnified – his failures and successes.
For all the wrong reasons, the man whose career is compared to the greatness of the game’s ghosts is graded on an impossibly grandiose scale. He doesn’t have to win every week, he must win big.
“He looks good but it’s tough for people to understand because if he doesn’t make five hole-in-ones and six eagles he’s played bad,” Foley said. “I look at performance and development academically.”
If the bar has been set unrealistically high Woods has come by it honestly. Maybe the greatest magic trick he ever pulled off was making us believe it was easy. Fourteen majors in 13 seasons, a U.S. Open victory on one leg, it all looked as effortless as that toothy smile.
For over a decade he’d swoop in, collect every piece of hardware available and slip behind the gates of Isleworth to count his millions, or so it seemed. Lost in that equation were the countless hours it took to perfect his trade. Now we know the truth.
Since teaming with Foley before last year’s PGA Championship Woods has reminded anyone who would listen that his previous upgrades with Hank Haney and Butch Harmon before that took two years or more, which is why his current confidence is worth noting.
Some 15 months into the Foley Experiment Woods is sounding like a man who not only understands the new action but knows how to fix it when things go sideways.
“I’d play poorly for a couple holes and not know what the fix was,” Woods said. “Now it’s immediate.”
At the Chevron on Wednesday, Woods’ last official start of the year, there was a simmering satisfaction that went well beyond his chances at Sherwood. Gone are the “ball counts” that limited his practice following his injury-induced exit from this year’s Players Championship and the uncertainty of a private life that had become far too public for his liking.
Next year will be Woods’ first full season on Tour since 2009 and probably the first he’s looked forward to in some time. As surely as the Santa Ana winds will tear through the California canyons on Thursday, Woods’ attitude has shifted. It’s time now to see if his game follows.







Big Ten Football award winners

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Named for Northwestern’s Otto Graham and Ohio State’s Eddie George

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Devon Still, Penn State
Named for Minnesota’s Bronko Nagurski and Michigan’s Charles Woodson

Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Named for Minnesota’s Darrell Thompson and Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El


Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote): Brady Hoke, Michigan
Named for Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler

Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote): Brady Hoke, Michigan
Named for Wisconsin’s Dave McClain







Heisman Watch
December 1, 2011
1 Trent Richardson RB | Alabama
Trent Richardson carried Alabama past rival Auburn -- and its final hurdle for the season. The Alabama running back torched the Tigers for 203 yards (more than the entire Auburn offense) on 27 carries and caught another ball for a score.
WEEK 13 AT AUBURN
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
203 0 7.5
RECEIVING
REC YDS YPR TD
1 5 5.0 1
2011 SEASON
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
1583 20 6.0
RECEIVING
REC YDS YPR TD
27 327 12.1 3


2 Andrew Luck QB | Stanford
Andrew Luck put together another stellar performance, completing 20 of 30 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns in Stanford's win over Notre Dame. He broke two school records: career touchdown passes (78) and single-season TD passes (33). The former had belonged to Cardinal star John Elway.
WEEK 13 VS. NOTRE DAME
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
169.2 233 4 1 66.7
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
20 0 5.0
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
167.5 3170 35 9 70.0
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
153 2 3.6


3 Robert Griffin III QB | Baylor
Next Game: 12/3 vs. TEXRobert Griffin was knocked out of the game with an apparent concussion late in the first half, but not before he accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing). He completed 7 of 11 passes for 106 yards and ran the ball 14 times for 62 yards.
WEEK 13 VS. TEXAS TECH
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
174.6 106 1 0 63.6
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
62 2 4.4
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
191.1 3678 34 5 72.6
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
612 7 4.1


4 Case Keenum QB | Houston
Next Game: 12/3 vs. USMCase Keenum passed for 457 yards and five touchdowns as the Cougars stayed unbeaten and in the hunt for a BCS bowl bid with their 48-16 victory over Tulsa. Friday's win marked the 18th time Keenum has thrown for at least 400 yards. Keenum has passed for at least 300 yards in every game this season.
WEEK 13 AT TULSA
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
191.1 457 5 0 71.7
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
-11 0 -3.7
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
187.3 4726 43 3 73.2
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
43 3 1.0


5 Matt Barkley QB | USC
Matt Barkley and USC don't have the oppotunity to play next weekend -- so the Trojans QB made up for it by punishing rival UCLA. He finished with six touchdown passes Saturday -- just one fewer than the total number of interceptions he had on the season.
WEEK 13 VS. UCLA
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
215.1 423 6 0 83.3
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
-6 0 -6.0
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
161.2

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