Will injuries rob Woods of going the distance?

By Associated PressApril 2, 2014, 1:00 am

Maybe we were just focused on the wrong body part.

Ever since Tiger Woods' SUV veered off course at the end of his driveway in Florida nearly six years ago, the questions have been about his head. And all the while, it's the rest of his body – the left side mostly – that's been breaking down before our eyes. Maybe, like Icarus, it turns out Woods just wasn't built to go the distance.

He broke into big-time golf at 20, thin as a 2-iron and swinging with all the abandon of a kid. He putted without nerves, hit the ball farther and passed so many career signposts so breathtakingly fast, and with such ease, that his future seemed to be on cruise-control already.

But Woods is 38 now, and despite sparking the fitness craze that revolutionized professional golf, he's falling apart like a used car.

Woods announced Tuesday he would skip the Masters for the first time in his career to begin yet another rehab from the latest of at least a half-dozen surgeries. For all the comparisons to Jack Nicklaus, in light of this latest breakdown, it might be more apt to look at Mickey Mantle.

A chain-reaction series of injuries hobbled the Yankee slugger through the final few seasons of a career that should have been even better – not to mention longer. Mantle's bad luck, as one writer memorably put it, was to be ''a million-dollar talent propped up on dime-store knees.''

At this point it's worth noting that Mantle had a drinking problem. And that he contributed to his own demise as a ballplayer by staying out late too many nights, something to which Woods has already pleaded guilty. But the way the injuries dogged Mantle at the end, sapping both his power and speed, may turn out to be the more instructive parallel.

Woods' latest surgery, called a microdiscectomy, was to relieve the pain from a pinched nerve in his back. Problems with his back first surfaced last summer, then resumed this spring, culminating in Woods' withdrawal from the Honda Classic and a final-round 78 a week later at Doral, where he looked visibly weakened.

A bad back is worrisome enough. That it arrives at the end of a string of injuries to Woods' left leg, knee and elbow, as well as both Achilles – and almost all within the last half-dozen years – makes you wonder whether it's part of a larger pattern.


Tiger vs. Snead and Nicklaus

Check out Tiger's road to catching Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus' victory records


In a statement on his website, Woods called the setback ''frustrating'' but ''something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health.''

The website also pointed out that swinging a golf club could have caused the pinched nerve, and as anybody who's ever swung one for a couple of rounds can attest, it can damage plenty of other body parts as well.

Woods has been doing that since age 3, and until the surgeries began piling up, it seemed as if he could go on doing it long enough to win more major tournaments that anyone had. But he's been stuck at 14 since the 2008 U.S. Open, and suddenly it's relevant that he's playing a game that has knocked just about every other great champion off his pedestal by the mid-to-late 30s.

Woods certainly knows the litany: Bobby Jones retired at 28; Tom Watson and Byron Nelson never won another after 33; Arnold Palmer, 34; and Walter Hagen, 36. Gary Player won only one after 38 and Nick Faldo his last at 39. Ben Hogan was an outlier, winning into his early 40s.

Nicklaus, the one that always mattered most to Woods, won all but one of his by age 40, covering an 18-year span. And the last one, the 1986 Masters at age 46, was what people mean by the phrase, ''catching lightning in a bottle.''

Woods may still be good for one of those, as well as a few more regular Tour events, which he's continued to win with some regularity. More important, perhaps, he isn't conceding anything. He needs four more PGA Tour wins to pass Sam Snead and five more majors to go by Nicklaus.

''There are a couple (of) records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break,'' Woods said Tuesday on his website. ''As I've said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine.''

Even if Woods is right, this much is already different. A lot of those kids he inspired to take up the game blow their drives past his, and they don't spit up leads the way Woods' peers used to the second his name popped up on the leaderboard. The last time some of them saw Woods make a putt that mattered in a major was on TV.

So it matters less, at the moment anyway, where Woods' head is at than how quickly – maybe even whether – the rest of his body heals. Deep as that bunker he was standing in looked before, his shot looks a lot tougher now.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.