Tiger is back in Australia minus some of the buzz

By Associated PressNovember 10, 2010, 1:21 am

JBWare MastersMELBOURNE, Australia – The woman keeping score for Tiger Woods in the final round of the Australia Masters did well to contain her emotions. She looked down at the boy holding the sign with the scores and wanted to make sure he understood his good fortune.

“This,” she whispered to him, “is the holy grail in golf.”

Is it still?

Perhaps the broader question is will it ever be again?

Woods returned Down Under on Tuesday with a slightly subdued reception. There were still media at the airport, although Geoff Ogilvy did not recall the same kind of TV report he heard last year: “The plane has landed, but we haven’t seen him walk out of the plane yet!”

There were no helicopters hovering over the fairways, because Woods did not bother coming out to Victoria Golf Club. And when he tees off Thursday, he most likely will be playing before fewer fans.

The tournament sold out last year six weeks in advance – as much as Aussies love sports, most buy tickets the day of an event. Now, tickets are still for sale. Tournament official David Rollo said 55,000 tickets have been sold for the four rounds, and he would be disappointed if sales didn’t top 70,000. They topped 100,000 last year.

That’s to be expected, and not because of the year Woods had off the golf course.

The world’s No. 1 player had not been to Australia since the 1998 Presidents Cup. Since then, he had won 72 times around the world, 14 majors and was being debated as the greatest golfer of all time.

Now, he is No. 2 in the world and hasn’t won in 51 weeks.

“It’s easier to hype up someone who hasn’t been here for 10 years,” Ogilvy said. “He was here just last year. A lot has happened in Tiger’s life in the last 12 months, but I think if there is any lack of hysteria, it’s probably due to the fact that he was here last year rather than anything else. Don’t you think? You guys want me to say that his aura is all gone and he’s no good anymore. But I don’t buy that.”

It was Australia where the National Enquirer linked Woods to New York nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, and more allegations of infidelity came gushing out in the weeks following Woods’ middle-of-the-night car accident Nov. 27 outside his Florida home.

That scandal is what kept Woods out of golf for nearly five months and ultimately led to his divorce. It didn’t do much for his golf game, either, for this is the longest he has gone without winning.

Woods acknowledged as much last week after he tied for sixth in the HSBC Champions, which for him constituted progress. Reflecting on a summer of finishing back in the pack, he said, “I was dealing with a lot of things off the golf course in that period of time, which was the most difficult. I also was trying to play, which was tough.”

He was talking about constant meetings with attorneys while trying to work out a divorce settlement, which was official Aug. 23.

There has not been much talk about his personal life since.

If the mystique is missing, it has more to do with the scores he shoots than the secret life he was leading.

Cameron Percy played with Woods in the final round at Kingston Heath. Contacted about a month later, after seeing Woods’ image splashed across the TV worldwide for reasons no one ever imagined, Percy was asked what kind of reception Woods could expect if he returned to defend his title in Australia.

“I can’t see this being an issue,” Percy said last December. “Our biggest idol is Greg Norman—not much difference there. The golfing public just loves to watch his golf. We have athletes in trouble for one thing or another. Once they’re on the sporting field, it’s all right.”

That’s the problem.

There hasn’t been much about Woods’ game that has been worth watching.

Woods tied for sixth at Shanghai for the second straight year, with one big difference. Last year he was five shots off the lead; this year he was 12 shots behind. In his last eight tournaments, Woods has finished an average of 13 shots behind.

That’s the significance of the Australian Masters this year.

Woods has been a defending champion every year since he was at least 12, maybe longer. But if he doesn’t win at Victoria, a sandbelt course that he will not see until the pro-am Wednesday, an entire year will have passed without him hoisting a trophy. To what extent he can ever repair his image, it starts with winning.

Some think he is close.

Rickie Fowler played behind him at the Ryder Cup, when Woods played the final seven holes in 7-under par, and said, “It was pretty special. He looked like he was strutting around the course like I used to see on TV.”

Robert Allenby played behind Sunday at Sheshan International and thought he was “super close.”

“I think next year is going to be a great year for him,” Allenby said. “I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll win a major next year.”

Ernie Els played with him two rounds in Shanghai and another round in Boston.

“It looks like he’s in a better place,” he said.

Maybe so, but Woods is not where he wants to be, and certainly not where anyone is used to seeing him.

Fans at the Australian Masters might not turn out in droves because they just saw him a year ago.

Those who do might not recognize him now.

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.