In Sweden anger over Tiger pride over Elin
There have been Christmas celebrations in a remote area of northern Sweden in a house owned by relatives of his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren. There have been summer days spent undisturbed in the couple’s luxury apartment in central Stockholm. And his wife recently purchased a secluded house on an island in the archipelago, a short boat ride outside the capital.
But if Woods is looking for somewhere to ride out the media storm surrounding his infidelity, Sweden may no longer be the place to go.
“I think his reception would be rather chilly,” said Billy McCormac, an American who has lived in Sweden for 14 years and heads the prominent think tank Timbro. “I think things are just too raw right now.”
The Woods sex scandal has indeed struck a particularly raw nerve in Sweden, where Nordegren’s transition from being a nanny for golfer Jesper Parnevik to the wife of one of the world’s most famous athletes was long seen as a fairy-tale romance.
Over the last five years, sightings of the couple on the streets of Stockholm or in nearby Vaxholm in the archipelago – where Nordegren grew up – helped create a sense of connection to a man renowned for his reclusive persona.
But like the drop in temperatures that brought a blizzard of snow over the Scandinavian country on Tuesday, Woods’ admitted betrayal of his wife has turned public opinion considerably cooler.
“We have taken him to heart and almost viewed him like one of us,” said Niklas Olovzon, a sponsorship and brand expert who heads the communications agency S&B. “Of course that has made this a much bigger deal. … I don’t think we’ll forgive him as quickly.”
Instead, there is an outpouring of sympathy and support for Nordegren, who has claims to fame in Sweden beyond her marriage to Woods. Nordegren’s mother, Barbro Holmberg, is a well-known Social Democratic politician and former migration minister while her father Thomas Nordegren is a prominent radio journalist.
“She comes from two sort of Swedish houses of nobility, so there is a sense that this is personal,” McCormac said. “I’m not sure how much the Swedish public embraced Elin before this. But now, that sense of ownership and that sense of communion with her has gotten stronger.”
That’s been evident in the country’s newspapers during the last few weeks, where the numerous front-page headlines and articles have focused as much on Nordegren as on Woods.
There has been constant speculation about whether she’ll stay with her husband, advice about how to repair her marriage, and jokes about why she used a golf club to smash the back passenger windows of Woods’ SUV the night of his infamous car crash outside their home in Florida. Local police said his wife told them she did it to help get her husband out.
In a country that prides itself on gender equality and independent women, the image of a golf club-wielding Nordegren is a source of widespread satisfaction.
“For us, it was almost a positive thing that she smashed the car window,” Olovzon said. “We like strong women in a lot of ways.”
Britta Svensson, a columnist in the newspaper Expressen, summed it up like this:
“A week ago, Tiger and Elin were the cutest couple on the globe,” Svensson wrote shortly after the reports of numerous mistresses started seeping out. “Now our Swedish hearts are brimming with pride that our own Elin – not a regular nanny but the daughter of a Social Democratic minister and Swedish Radio journalist – didn’t take any … Elin is our heroine.”
The same can no longer be said of Woods, of course, regardless of golf’s immense popularity in the country.
Despite its short summers, Sweden has nearly half a million golfers in a population of little more than 9 million, including a number of top pros like Henrik Stenson.
But to win the fans back, Woods has to get back on the course and win more titles, said Tommy Jeppsson, the editor of the Swedish version of Golf Digest.
“Time has an incredible ability to heal things like this,” said Jeppsson, pointing out that a number of famous men have been able to resuscitate their careers after sex scandals. “When you think about (actor) Hugh Grant today, you only view his scandal as a bump in the road – he didn’t drive off a cliff. I think this will be a bump in the road for Tiger Woods as well.”
Seeing Woods play in a tournament like the Scandinavian Masters has long been a dream for Swedish golf fans. If Woods does decide to end his indefinite break from golf, Jeppsson said that’s not likely to change.
“He would be very welcome,” Jeppsson said. “I don’t think anyone would miss seeing Tiger Woods play golf just because they’re a bit peeved about what he’s alleged to have done.”
But, as McCormac pointed out, Woods may not want to test his welcome too soon.
“I think the media circus needs to die down first,” McCormac said. “Maybe in six months, or, say, around the summer time. (Swedes) are very used to walking down the street, and say, ‘Oh, there’s the prime minister,’ or ‘There’s that rock star.’ Given a bit of time, given a bit of space, I’d say even (Tiger and Elin) will be able to do that eventually.”
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
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.