Tiger returns to Torrey Pines as a caddie
He didnt have golf clubs, either.
Hopping from a cart, Woods walked up to 59-year-old John Abel, doffed his cap and extended his right hand. Hey, I hear youre looking for a caddie. Im Tiger Woods ' pleased to meet you.
Out of action since beating Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff for his 14th career major, Woods came back to Torrey Pines to deliver on his end of the Tee Off with Tiger online sweepstakes sponsored by Buick.
Showing no signs of his season-ending knee surgery a week after the U.S. Open, Woods wore a green caddies bib inscribed with Abels name as he guided him around the back nine of the South Course, where he has won six times in the Buick Invitational and once in a U.S. Open he called his best ever.
Playing with torn ligaments in his left knee and a double stress fracture in his leg, Woods made a 12-foot birdie on the final hole to force an 18-hole playoff, made a 4-foot birdie on the 18th in the playoff to stay alive and finally won with a par.
Woods checked into the Lodge at Torrey Pines on Sunday night and noticed the pin in the same spot it was during the Monday playoff.
I opened the curtains and saw the 18th green, Woods said. I was like, You know what? That is pretty cool. A different atmosphere. You can actually see. They dont have the grandstands in the way. I saw where the pin was and was thinking, You know what? I remember that putt.
Woods was in character from the minute he drove up to the 10th tee, on cue from a video crew that recorded every one of Abels shots. Reporters and photographers from two media outlets, including The Associated Press, were allowed to watch on the 10th and 18th holes.
Woods drove the cart. He handed clubs to Abel, then wiped them off with a towel and put them back in the bag. He squatted to line up putts and tended the pin. He warned how fast the greens were, then chuckled as Abel five-putted the 10th for a quadruple-bogey 8.
Woods gave the best local advice anyone could ever hope to get on the tough course on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When they finished, a gaggle of onlookers that gathered near the clubhouse had a collective reaction.
It was fun, said Woods, who once caddied for former Stanford teammate Jerry Chang. This was totally cool. Ive caddied before many times. For me to be out here and to be able to do it again, its always fun. Johns a good guy. It was a fun day for me.
Abel, from West Berlin, N.J., said his round went better than expected.
I wasnt as nervous after maybe the third or fourth hole, he said. Nerves come into it, I dont care who you are, and these greens are unbelievable. Tiger was telling me that theyre actually 3 feet slower than what they played for the Open.
It was just such a hoot to play with him, said Abel, who regularly shoots in the 90s. He showed me things I never even thought about. Like when he walks into a sand trap, he feels with his feet. It was just so neat. it really was.
Seriously, imagine handing your fairway wood to Tiger Woods after a shot.
Thats the funny thing, Abel said. Im just so used to taking my club and putting it in the bag, and he keeps holding his hand out. Its like, OK. You dont want to. What else can you say? You just dont think about things like that.
The pin on 18 was moved Monday to where it was during the final round of regulation at the U.S. Open ' front right ' when Woods rapped that 12-foot birdie putt that bumped along toward the hole and swirled into the back corner of the cup without an inch to spare.
After Abel finished his round, Woods gave him a final treat by dropping the ball at the spot of his Sunday putt.
When they asked me, do you know what youre doing? I said, No, Abel said. When I was stepping up to it, they mentioned it. They said, This is his putt.
His putt probably broke another two inches more than what mine did, Woods said. Mine was more down in the valley. Slightly different putt.
Abel sensed that Woods enjoyed being back at Torrey Pines.
This might just be me watching, but he would look at certain spots and I was thinking, I wonder if thats where he hit the ball. A couple of times I was going to ask him, but then to be honest, I wasnt sure what I should ask him.
Abel said the one thing he took away about Woods was how much of a down-to-Earth guy he really is.
Abel said they talked about fatherhood, Woods knee and a couple jokes about how a couple more trophies would be nice, and how he feels he needs another green jacket. It was a little chilly and he said, Yeah, another green jacket would be nice and warm.
As for his caddie skills, It was all good, man, joked Woods, who enjoyed seeing Abel make a 20-foot uphill par putt on 17.
Abel played with a new set of Nike clubs. Woods wrote on the bib: Thank you for letting me caddie for you. Your friend, Tiger Woods.
Woods said his rehab is on schedule but that his return will be dictated by his doctors.
Im able to chip and putt now. I can start doing some more fuller rotational things toward the beginning of next year, he said. I can walk and do all this stuff. This is easy. But rotational stuff is going to be a little different.
Woods would love to be back at Torrey Pines in early February to defend his title at the Buick Invitational, where he has won four straight and six overall. But hes not sure if its realistic.
Thats the most frustrating thing for me, because I dont know, Woods said. I like having things planned out. I like understanding what I need to shoot for, but I dont know. And the surgeons dont know either, because theyve never dealt with an injury like this for a person who plays golf at an elite level. For an amateur, its no big deal, just come back nine months from now or 10 months from now. But for me, I dont know what the schedules going to be.
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.