Tiger a silent host with a mediocre field

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
BETHESDA, Md. ' Tiger Woods is 33 and already has more PGA Tour victories than Arnold Palmer. One of these days, he might have the kind of influence on players that the King can wield with a mere glint in his eye.
Consider the case of one player, whom every tournament would love to have in its field. He had no intention of playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year, for no other reason than he wanted to change up his schedule leading to the Masters. The young star was at Seminole in early March when he ran into Palmer, who greeted him with a smile, a firm handshake and a question.
Are you coming to my tournament? Palmer asked him.
Strangely enough, his plans changed that moment.
As far as anyone can tell, Woods never had that kind of moment with any of the big names who were somewhere other than his AT&T National last week. Only four of the top 12 players showed up at Congressional.
Would it have helped if Woods had done some recruiting?
Ive never asked anybody to play, Woods said. I dont I feel awkward doing that. If the guys can find time in their schedule to play, wed love to have them.
Congressional managed just fine without them.
The golf course, which will host its third U.S. Open in two years, is a classic that rivals any on the PGA Tour.
The tournament honors the military over the Fourth of July holiday outside the nations capital. Kids not only get in free, one marshal named Ron Fitzsimmons plucked a dozen of them out of the gallery each day and parked them behind the seventh tee so they could see. Proceeds will go toward building another Tiger Woods Learning Center, this one in the Washington area.
In three years, the AT&T National has become a model event.
Along with those trappings, it was quite a show inside the ropes. Woods played in the final pairing with the dynamic defending champion, Anthony Kim. He wound up beating another rising star, Hunter Mahan, who threw down a 62 in a final round that some 40,000 fans didnt want to see end.
To no ones surprise, the overnight TV rating was up 200 percent from last year.
Youve got Tiger and Anthony Kim in the last group, Fred Couples said. Does it really matter whos not here?
Even so, it was clear Couples was perturbed by the no-shows, and he wasnt alone. There was plenty of grumbling going on outside the Beltway as tournament organizers quietly took roll.
More than 100 players earned over $1 million last year, and most of them owe that to Woods.
Was it too much to return the favor by playing his tournament?
None of the no-shows would have sold any more tickets. The crowd was estimated at over 160,000 for the week, and that doesnt include Wednesdays pro-am when Woods played with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in Redskins territory.
In a twist of fate, perhaps it was only fitting so much attention was paid to absentees.
Strength of field has been a debate since the days of Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, into the era of Couples and Greg Norman, yet no one has brought more attention to it than Woods.
Ask tournament directors if they would rather have nine of the top 10 players in the world without Woods, or only one player in the top 10 as long as that one was Woods. If they take Door No. 1, its only because they dont have Tiger.
The perception is that if Woods plays, its a great field, even when it really isnt. And when he doesnt play, golf is irrelevant.
Four PGA Tour events that Woods missed this year had a higher-rated field than he attracted to the AT&T National, yet there was a story every week, in Los Angeles and Houston, in Fort Worth and Phoenix, about why Woods wasnt there.
Remember, the only reason the AT&T National exists is because Jack Vickers folded his tent at Castle Pines after spending a decade trying to lure back Woods to the International (ignoring that he had Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia every year).
The AT&T National has everything a player could want, much like Quail Hollow and the Memorial.
So why dont more top players show up?
A strong field starts with a great course and a good spot on the schedule. What once appeared to be a great date ' a week involving the Fourth of July ' is starting to look suspect.
Sure, the Western Open rarely suffered when Woods, Nick Price and Tom Watson were winning against a strong field. However, that was when the PGA Tour season ended in early November, not the middle of September in the FedEx Cup configuration. A contracted schedule means more choices, and good events get crammed together in the summer.
Plus, more Europeans are in the top 50, and this is when their schedule actually takes them to Europe ' France last week, the Scottish Open this week, then the British Open.
Dont be surprised to see the AT&T National move to May if a spot in the schedule opens up in 2012, if not sooner.
In the meantime, Woods said all the right things Sunday night.
For the guys who have come here over the last three years and played, he said, hopefully theyve enjoyed their time.
Thats all he can ask.
And as long as Woods is host of the tournament, thats all it needs.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm