Woods curious as everyone else about his return

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
LOS ANGELES ' Tiger Woods has been on the golf course every day, either practicing or playing, hitting his full array of shots without fear of pain shooting down his left leg or bones sliding out of place.
 
The next step is taking that inside the ropes. And not even Woods is sure what to expect.
 
Im as curious as you, Woods said Friday during a conference call. The feeling of adrenaline, the rush of competing and playing again, all that I havent done in a while.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is trying to prepare for the Masters Tournament. (Getty Images)
Woods will have gone more than eight months ' 253 days to be exact ' without hitting a shot that counts when he returns from reconstructive knee surgery next week at the Accenture Match Play Championship just north of Tucson, Ariz.
 
His goal is to win. That hasnt changed. The surgery in June was to repair his knee, not his heart or his mind. But as confident as Woods feels about his game, his main concern is how sharp he will be in his first tournament since the U.S. Open last June.
 
Its one thing to do it in a practice environment at home against my buddies for a little bit of cash, Woods said. Its a totally different deal to do it at a PGA Tour event against the best players in the world. Im excited to get out there and experience that.
 
But at least hell be doing it on a healthy knee, saying its been years since he was without pain.
 
One of the great things coming back is my bones arent moving anymore, Woods said. Its a very comforting feeling hitting a golf ball without your bones sliding all over the place. Thats been very exciting to play that way, and Im looking forward to the season.
 
Swing coach Hank Haney said the only change in his swing will be the finish, noting that Woods finally has a strong left knee that will not give way and flop all over the place.
 
The only noticeable change might be his golf bag.
 
Woods ended his nine-year endorsement deal with Buick because of the automakers financial problems. He said he will have AT&T on his bag as an extended partnership with the telecommunications giant. AT&T is the title sponsor of his PGA Tour event in Washington and a major sponsor of his foundation.
 
He also has an endorsement with Accenture, although Woods said that wasnt behind his decision to return.
 
The knee has felt strong enough that he could have played earlier. All he waited on was the birth of his son, Charlie Axel, making sure his wife and baby were healthy before he went back to work.
 
It was making sure the family was all good with the birth of Charlie and making sure Elin was OK, Charlie was OK, everything was safe and sound on the home front, he said. Then the focus was on playing again.
 
Woods offered some insight on the name of his son.
 
He said there was a slight connection to Charlie Sifford, the first black to join the PGA Tour, but more than anything, We thought it sounded good. Axel, which has Swedish origins, is the name of his wifes brother.
 
It will be remarkable if Woods can continue the pace he was on when he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines for his 14th career major, one he called probably the best ever because of his wounded knee.
 
That was his ninth victory in 12 official tournaments around the world, and he finished no worse than fifth in the other three.
 
I know when he left he was hitting it awfully good, Haney said. He feels like hes getting close to that. Expectations with him are off the chart. You would think that people would cut him a little slack for a couple of weeks. But Im sure it will start right in.
 
Woods is the defending champion at the Accenture Match Play Championship, with a career record of 31-6. But even last year showed how much luck is required. Woods was 3 down with five holes to play until rallying with long putts to beat J.B. Holmes. In the third round, Aaron Baddeley twice had putts inside 12 feet to win, and Woods escaped with a victory in 20 holes.
 
The format could help ' match play is about winning the hole, not what kind of score goes on the card.
 
Hopefully, Ill get into the flow of the round quickly, he said. It helps that it is match play. It helps that each hole is a match. It pays to get off to a quick start.
 
The tournament moves up the road on Dove Mountain to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Woods doesnt know the golf course, but neither does the rest of the 64-man field.
 
All that matters to Woods, not to mention the rest of golf, is that he will be playing again.
 
Woods has not watched much golf during his absence, except for a few holes of the British Open and PGA Championship (both won by Padraig Harrington) and the Ryder Cup, when he was busy texting his teammates.
 
He has missed the competition, no doubt, and spent the last several months looking to satisfy that.
 
I had to find competition in different ways, Woods said. What I did was really focus on my rehab. That was my open personal competition each and every day to get better. Because I couldnt do it in the golfing arena anymore, I turned my competitive juices to a different area. That made my workouts more productive. And here we are.'
 


 
Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
 
Related Links:
  • The Roar is Back
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
  • Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “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.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

    Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.