Tigers return official on Wednesday

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods has been ahead of schedule since he first began rehabilitation for reconstructive knee surgery.
 
Only when he returned to the PGA Tour did he fall hopelessly behind.
 
He wasnt even the first player to warm up Tuesday morning at Dove Mountain. That honor went to Phil Mickelson, who had never seen so many photographers on the range at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods finally is back out on the course, ready to compete.(Getty Images)
What will happen Wednesday is a mystery to all ' including Woods, who finished his practice round about an hour later than he expected, and walked into his press conference with an apology.
 
Sorry Im late, Woods said. I forgot how long it takes to play 18 holes walking.
 
It was the first time he had walked a round of golf since the Monday playoff at last years U.S. Open, where he beat Rocco Mediate for his 14th major, then shocked the golfing world by announcing he would miss the rest of the year after having surgery on his left knee.
 
The next question is how many holes he walks at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.
 
Woods is fit enough ' one caddie thought he belonged at the NFL combine ' appears to be swinging better than ever and says his left knee is stronger than it has been in years.
 
But in this fickle format, not even good golf is enough to assure anyone ' Woods included ' of advancing to the next round.
 
You have to be on your game right away, he said. You have to make sure you bring the intensity and bring your game from the very first hole. Because if you dont, then Ill be going home.
 
This is the 10th time Woods has competed in the Accenture Match Play Championship, and he has reached the weekend only four times. Even when healthy ' the year he won the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year ' he lost in the first round to Peter OMalley.
 
For now, hes simply thrilled to be playing.
 
Oddly enough, the last time he played essentially was match play. After 90 holes at Torrey Pines ' four rounds and an 18-hole playoff against Mediate ' they had to go to sudden death, and Woods won on the next hole with a par.
 
He raised hardly any questions about his game during his 18 holes on the Jack Nicklaus design, which features firm turf and greens with too many contours to count. On the eighth hole, caddie Steve Williams was about to suggest a 3-wood until Woods pulled off the cover of his driver and said he would chip one down there. It was hit plenty hard, prompting Williams to say, Beautiful.
 
Even so, there is sure to be rust when he faces Brendan Jones of Australia in the first round.
 
Ive played one tournament in 10 months, Woods said. Ive simulated tournaments the best I possibly can, but its hard to get the adrenaline up to where its going to be tomorrow when I play. Im trying to get into the rhythm of the round as fast as I possibly can.
 
And hopefully, it will happen quickly for me.
 
Even those who have not taken eight months off are leery about this format.
 
Robert Karlsson is the No. 7 player in the world, yet he has never made it out of the first round in his previous three starts. Geoff Ogilvy has an 11-2 record in this tournament and won the season-opener at Kapalua, but he faces Kevin Sutherland, who has an 8-2 mark.
 
A year ago, two reporters looked at the bracket and tried to pick one match that would be a sure thing. Both settled on Vijay Singh over Peter Hanson, and sure enough, the Fijian won ' in 19 holes.
 
Sometimes you can play poorly I remember one of the guys at La Costa one year shot 79 and won his match. So that can happen, Woods said. But the reverse can happen, as well. The only thing you can control is what you do on the golf course yourself.
 
So far, there have been no complaints.
 
Woods says he had about 20 percent of his ACL five years ago, and none of it after stepping into a hole while jogging after the British Open two years ago. But after reconstructing the ligament, and going through a patient but rigorous rehab, he is feeling stronger than ever.
 
I feel a lot stronger in my left leg, Woods said. Both legs have been stronger than they ever have been. Stability is something I havent had in years. So its nice to make a swing and not have my bones move. Its nice to hit into it for the first time.
 
Swing coach Hank Haney was pleased with what he saw.
 
He looked great, Haney said. Im very pleased with how he did today. Its slowly coming around, and hes getting more consistent. His knee is not flopping all over the place. Its nice to see him not in pain, not hurt when hes playing.
 
It felt good to be back among his colleagues, and it was good to be back at work. When he pulled into the parking lot just after dawn, it felt like he had never been gone, just another day at the office. He changed his shoes in the clubhouse, went to the range, grumbled about photographers and played 18 holes without anyone in front of him.
 
But that was practice.
 
Every shot counts when he tees off against Jones.
 
Im looking forward to the rush tomorrow. I really am, Woods said. Waking up tomorrow, and getting ready for my round, and getting focused, and coming out here, warming up and getting fired up. Im really looking forward to that more than anything else. Because I havent had that in a long time.
 
Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."