Notes New Caddie on the Bag for Tiger

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods has employed only two professional caddies during his nine years on the PGA Tour. He's about to get his third, but only temporarily.
Woods said he will use Billy Foster, the caddie for Darren Clarke, at the Presidents Cup next month. His regular caddie, Steve Williams, is going home to New Zealand because his fiance is expecting their first child.
Tiger Woods and caddie
Tiger Woods' caddie Steve Williams will be off the bag at the Presidents Cup to be at home in New Zealand for the birth of his first child.
Woods knows the English caddie from having played several rounds in practice and in tournaments with Clarke and Thomas Bjorn, for whom Foster also once worked.

``He's good at what he does,'' Woods said. ``I've seen him work with Clarkey over the years, and he's had some success. There were a couple of guys I was considering, but I like his personality. He's very competitive, very feisty, and very similar to Stevie.''
Asked if Foster was allergic to cameras, Clarke smiled and said, ``No.''
Foster plays off a 1 handicap. One example of his personality might be the time he caddied for the temperamental Seve Ballesteros. He had Foster put some fruit in the bag before a round, and eventually asked for an apple.
Ballesteros inspected the apple and told him, ``This is no good.''
To which Foster replied, ``Do you want a caddie or a grocer?''
The Presidents Cup, to be played Sept. 22-25 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, is between the United States and an International team from everywhere but Europe. Clarke has said he will not be playing that week in the Seve Trophy on the European tour.
The only other pro caddie for Woods was Mike ``Fluff'' Cowan from the start of his career until early 1999.
As for Williams?
Woods said he was expected to be on the bag at the Deustche Bank Championship next week outside Boston, then return at the start of October for the American Express Championship in San Francisco.
He said Bryon Bell, his best friend from junior high school, would caddie for him Oct. 20-23 in the Funai Classic at Disney. Bell, who usually works Disney, was Woods' caddie when he won the Buick Invitational in 1999.
If there are horses for courses, it would seen Adam Scott is a thoroughbred on the TPC at Boston, having won and tied for second the first two years at the Deustche Bank Championship.
That's why it was peculiar to learn the 25-year-old Aussie is skipping this year's event.
Scott has been spinning his wheels, with only one top 10 since the U.S. Open. That was a tie for fifth at the Scandinavian Masters in Sweden.
``I'm taking a bit of a sabbatical,'' he said at the NEC Invitational. ``My head hasn't been in the game this week, and there's no point playing when you're not in the right frame of mind. I feel like I need to get away and practice putting for a week, not playing, and then come back out and get my head straight. It's been a long year.''
Scott left Firestone for Australia, his first trip home all year.
He won the Nissan Open, but it didn't count as an official victory because it was a 36-hole event delayed by rain. He played extremely well at the Match Play Championship, but ran into the unbeatable David Toms in the quarterfinals. His only other good opportunity was finishing one shot behind Sergio Garcia at the Booz Allen Classic.
``I'm ready for a bit of a break, where I can crash and come back focused, and hopefully get to the Mercedes,'' Scott said of the winners-only tournament at Kapalua.
Among his plans? Watching his beloved Adelaide Crows in Australian Rules Football.
The World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony in November will not include Vijay Singh, who decided to defer his induction because it conflicts with a tournament.
Singh will be playing in Asia at the end of the year, starting with the inaugural HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
``I tried to get them to change the dates, but there's so many things involved in it,'' Singh said. ``It's unfortunate, but I'm definitely going to be here next year to do that.''
Other inductees are Karrie Webb from the LPGA Tour; Ayako Okamoto from the International ballot; and Willie Park Sr., Alister Mackenzie and Bernard Darwin from lifetime achievement and veterans' categories. The induction ceremony is Nov. 14 in St. Augustine, Fla.
Singh isn't the first player to defer his induction. Seve Ballesteros also had a conflict and delayed his induction one year to 1999.
Tiger Woods won only one tournament and finished fourth on the PGA Tour money list in 2004, leading some to say he was in a slump.
Jerry Kelly would beg to differ with the definition.
After playing in the Tour Championship the last three years, Kelly has only one top 10 this season.
``It's the first prolonged slump I've had in five years,'' he said. ``It's been very difficult, but I've been going through some swing changes earlier in the year -- a lot of swing changes. I got behind the 8-ball early, and I put too much pressure on myself. Now I'm a little more relaxed. I'm going to just go out and play for a change.''
Then he shot 74-72 and missed the cut at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus won't decide pairings until the Presidents Cup, but expect to see Tiger Woods and Fred Couples playing together. ... Oakland Hills, which held the Ryder Cup last year, will be 226 yards longer when it hosts the 2008 PGA Championship. Club members last week approved golf architect Rees Jones' recommendations to update the South course by stretching it to 7,303 yards as a par 70. ... For those wondering why Jesper Parnevik no longer flips up the bill of his cap, the answer is Lasik surgery. ``My eyes became a little light sensitive after that,'' he said. ``I shade my eyes from now on. It can get very bright here.'' ... Ernie Els is recovering from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee, and the Big Easy is reporting good progress. He said on his Web site he can already fully straighten his knee, and is close to being able to bend it, ``which is pretty unusual so soon after this type of injury.''
Craig Bowden was 28-of-28 in fairways hit the first rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open and still missed the cut.
``I've never made a nickel in my lifetime where I wasn't a little nervous getting it.'' -- Paul Azinger.
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After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner

On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray

On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard

On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

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Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

“I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

“When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

“I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

“I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

“His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

“It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

“[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

“He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

“I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

“I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

“For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”