Fans ready to welcome back Woods
He found that intriguing.
Then the talk shifted to the sex scandal that has dogged the world’s best player for months, and Ramos lost all interest.
“I honestly think this: Golf fans, they don’t care about that anymore,” the 28-year-old Ramos said, waiting for his turn to start at Greynolds Park. “Let’s see him play. Leave the other stuff alone, man. Lay off.”
If there was one thing most recreational players on the ranges and courses of South Florida could agree on Tuesday, it was that they just want to see Woods play again and have talk finally end of extramarital affairs and rehab stints that have surrounded the 14-time major champion since November.
Some like him, some don’t, and others like him less now than they did before Nov. 27. That’s when he fled his house in the middle of the night and ran his Cadillac SUV over a fire hydrant and into a tree.
But just about all those who agreed to discuss Woods on Tuesday said they’ll be watching his every move at Augusta National.
Welcome back, Tiger.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a Tiger guy, per se, but I’ve always admired his golf skills and he’s probably going to end up being the greatest golfer who ever lived and played,” said Daniel Manichello, who was hitting on the range at Miami Shores Country Club. “The stuff that’s gone on, that’s between him and his family. That’s where it should be kept.”
Manichello was going to watch the Masters, anyway. He’s a year-round follower of golf, someone who drives around listening to golf news on his satellite radio, which is how he learned of Tuesday’s news before hitting a bucket of drives.
Still, Woods’ return means he’ll watch this year’s Masters even more closely.
“Makes it more compelling for television and for fans,” Manichello said. “If he plays up to his abilities, the guy’s incredible. The shots that he pulls off and stuff like that, it makes it more entertaining. And this year and last year when he was out with the injury, nobody’s really stepped up into the spotlight.”
Sue Ferguson-Pagan, a Scottish vacationer and one of the few women who were willing to speak with The Associated Press about Woods on Tuesday, was puzzled on why the Woods saga has attracted so much attention. A former reporter, Ferguson-Pagan said she thought the entire episode has been media driven.
“He’s a superb golfer and I’m just sorry that he’s been so publicly exposed for his failings,” Ferguson-Pagan said, slinging her bag over her shoulder for an afternoon round. “Just because he’s a superhuman golfer doesn’t mean to say that he’s going to be superhuman in other areas. Leave him alone.”
It’s unclear what effect Woods’ latest absence has had on the game, because he actually didn’t miss many tournaments in which he would have played. Doral, though, was one of those tournaments.
When Woods teed off on the Blue Monster in 2009, the gallery stretched nearly 300 yards up the course. While crowds were again sizable at Doral for the weekend rounds of the CA Championship this year – especially following Phil Mickelson, Camilo Villegas and 2010 winner Ernie Els – it was nothing like what greeted Woods a year ago.
“It was kind of empty,” Alfredo Behar said. “The security was a lot less beefed up, I’ll tell you that much.”
Behar, 32, isn’t a Woods fan. He roots for Mickelson, mostly. And Ramos, his friend, isn’t much of a Woods fan, either.
“He always acted like he was better than you,” Ramos said.
They both think they’ll see a slightly different Woods when he returns.
“Tiger’s a little arrogant, I think,” Behar said. “He can’t win every tournament. It’s impossible to win every tournament. I would have loved to see his comeback at Doral. He would have been all right in Miami. Miami’s a very liberal town. And, as a matter of fact, some people would tell you they like him better now.”
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.