A Summer of Speculation Over Woods

By Associated PressJune 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger answered his phone during the final round of a U.S. Open that attracted more prime-time viewers than the NBA finals. He was among them, camped in front of his TV.
 
Im watching my show pony, he said, referring to longtime friend Rocco Mediate.
 
Asked what he thought about his Secretariat, there was a slight pause.
 
Im a little worried for him, Azinger said while watching Tiger Woods flinch, grimace, limp and hit a careers worth of clutch shots at Torrey Pines. Not for the Ryder Cup. I just hope hes not doing anything to create a long-term issue for himself. Thats my concern.
 
Woods seems to have everyone worried.
 
The countdown toward Jack Nicklaus benchmark of 18 professional majors began in earnest three years ago when Woods won the Masters in a playoff and reached the halfway point with his ninth Grand Slam title.
 
But when he picked up No. 14 with a playoff victory Monday at the U.S. Open, looking into his future was like summer in San Diego. It can be so foggy you cant see the Pacific from the bluffs, or clear enough to see across the ocean to La Jolla Cove.
 
I think I need to shut it down for a little bit, Woods said. I pushed it pretty hard this week, and I just want to enjoy it. And were going to reevaluate after this event and see what happens.
 
What does that mean? How bad is his knee? How severe was the pain?
 
Only Woods knows, and hes more tightlipped with an injury report than Bill Belichick.
 
The Buick Open next week is most certainly out, and probably his own AT&T National at Congressional the week after. Even the British Open at Royal Birkdale, where Woods missed out on a playoff by one shot in 1998, is up in the air.
 
Woods is expected to expand on his immediate future later this week.
 
In the meantime, this surely will be a summer of speculation.
 
Perhaps it was only fitting that Woods cradled his daughter in his arms before handing Sam Alexis, who turns 1 on Wednesday, over to his wife. As he was piling up majors at a staggering rate, conventional wisdom said that only three things could keep Woods from breaking Nicklaus major record'marriage, children or injury.
 
He handled the first two just fine. But he has had three surgeries on his left knee, two in the last five years.
 
Weve got to get this fixed, one member of his camp said quietly.
 
After going 91 holes to win at Torrey Pines, someone brought up Ben Hogans victory in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion, which came 16 months after a near-fatal car accident. As injuries ago, there is no comparison.
 
Geez, he was in the hospital and he didnt know if he was ever going to walk again, Woods said.
 
But there is a worthy comparison in their schedules.
 
Hogan never played more than nine times a season for the rest of his career. He won three of the four events he played in 1951, including the U.S. Open and the Masters. He won all three majors he played among eight tournaments in 1953.
 
This was the second time Woods returned from a two-month layoff due to knee surgery and won at Torrey Pines. The other was the 2003 Buick Invitational, and swing coach Hank Haney spoke of a huge difference that had little do with firm greens and thick rough.
 
With Woods, everything comes down to preparation.
 
Hes done this before'laying off'but he didnt do it without preparing, Haney said. Thats what made me apprehensive. Thats why this is the greatest win hes ever had.
 
Woods had not played a full round since the Masters until eight days before the start of the U.S. Open, and that was in a cart. Then came more cart golf in Newport Beach, followed by nine holes of walking on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. He didnt walk 18 holes until the first round at Torrey Pines.
 
As far as practice time, Haney said Woods never tested himself on anything but an even lie. Haney was asked if Woods might follow that routine before going to Royal Birkdale, if he plays.
 
Hopefully not, Haney said, breaking into a thin smile. But he proved he could do this, too.
 
Woods has played only seven times through the U.S. Open, the most abbreviated schedule of his career. That he already has won five times worldwide and leads Phil Mickelson by nearly $2 million on the PGA TOUR money list illustrates how wide the chasm is between No. 1 and everyone else. This is the 500th week that Woods has been atop the world ranking, and his 14 majors are one more than the rest of the top 20 combined.
 
But where does he go from here? And when?
 
Unless his knee heals quickly'or he finds the doctor that helped Paul Pierce climb out of a wheelchair in two minutes'Woods might have to decide between two cups at the end of the season.
 
Ryder Cup or FedExCup?
 
In a typical schedule, he would play two FedExCup playoff events, take a week off, then go consecutive weeks at the time-consuming Ryder Cup and the TOUR Championship.
 
Based on what happened at Torrey Pines, its doubtful he can play four times in five weeks.
 
Under a retooled points system, Woods could not sit out three playoff events and win the FedExCup'not the end of the world since he didnt even bother kissing the cup last year.
 
Does he pour everything into the Ryder Cup?
 
Woods loves the competition of the matches, but loathes everything else about that week. He might have a convenient excuse to sit this Ryder Cup out. Imagine the no-win situation Europe would face playing an American team without the worlds best player.
 
Who knows? Woods might up doing his team a favor.
 
And himself.
 
Related Links:
  • Playoff Scoring
  • Golf Guy Playoff Timeline
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.