Woods Leg will be even stronger next year

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. ' Tiger Woods wore sneakers instead of spikes. He sat next to a bottle of Gatorade Tiger, not the silver U.S. Open trophy. One thing that didnt change at his first press conference in 184 days were questions about his left knee.
But after speaking for a half-hour Wednesday at Sherwood Country Club, covering everything from his rehab to his caddie to his improbable victory at Torrey Pines, the most powerful statement about his health and future required no words at all.
Tiger Woods 08 US Open Knee
Tiger Woods displays his pain during the 2008 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
Does he have any doubts he will be better than before?
Woods turned up the bottom of his lip, shook his head three times and mumbled, Uh-uh, as if that had never entered his mind.
Six months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee to repair a ruptured ligament ' his third surgery in six years ' Woods said he was right on schedule to return, already hitting short irons and excited about playing on a leg that has never been more stable.
Ive just been training and trying to get healthy enough to compete next year, Woods said. Everything has been right on schedule. I couldnt have asked for anything more.
The uncertainty is when he will return, and how his leg will respond when he goes through a full practice.
His plan was to start hitting balls in January, but he already has been chipping and putting, and taking full swings with small clubs, shots that go no more than 100 yards.
I havent hit full shots with my entire bag yet, Woods said. As far as coming back, I dont know. I dont know how its going to respond with repeated practice days and long days of practice trying to get back, and ultimately playing my way into shape. Thats obviously going to take a little bit of time.
He is thankful to be merely the host this week of his Chevron World Challenge ' temperatures felt like the upper 30s even before a light rain fell at Sherwood. Woods won last year by seven shots, and this is the fifth time this year he could not defend a title.
The last meaningful shot he took was a tap-in for par on the 19th hole in a Monday playoff at the U.S. Open, a victory that even Woods finds hard to believe. He played that week with the torn ligament and a double stress fracture, and spoke about a left knee with so much swelling at night that he couldnt see his kneecap.
As Ive progressed through my shorter clubs, hitting fuller shots, you remember what it was like when you hit a full shot, he said. And for me, the last time I really hit a full shot was at the Open. It didnt feel very good.
In the few shots he has taken over the past few weeks, the leg has felt better than ever.
Woods said he has tried not to snap his left leg at impact over the last couple of years, but his knee ligaments wouldnt allow for it. When he had surgery at the end of the 2002 season to drain fluid and clean out cartilage, he said doctors told him he only had about 20 percent of his anterior cruciate ligament left.
The fact I made it this far was amazing without rupturing it, he said.
He made adjustments to compensate, and now is remembering what it was like to have two good legs.
Right now, it feels great to have that stability in the leg, he said. It feels stronger, more stable. Its not sliding all over the place. My bones arent moving. Things that I was dealing with, I dont feel that anymore. Im actually stronger in my legs than I think Ive ever been.
Even so, he remains cautious about the ligament regaining full strength. Thats what makes the timing of his return uncertain.
Woods had surgery a week after the U.S. Open, missing the final two majors won by Padraig Harrington, a Ryder Cup that produced a rare U.S. victory, and the emergence of Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas as potential challengers when he returns.
He missed the competition, but saw plenty of benefits from the time away.
On one level, its been absolutely something Id never want to do again, Woods said. And the on another part, its been just the greatest time in the world. Training every day, its been a little rough at times, but getting through it. But being able to spend time at home with Sam and watch her grow, its something I wouldnt have had the opportunity to do.
Woods turns 33 at the end of the month, already with 14 majors and 65 victories on the PGA Tour.
He is closing in on the hallowed mark of Jack Nicklaus ' 18 professional majors, the one record Woods cares about ' and 2009 sets up well for him. Along with the Masters, the U.S. Open returns to Bethpage Black, where Woods won in 2002, and he was runner-up by one shot at Hazeltine, site of next years PGA Championship.
He has been saying for years that he will walk away when his best isnt good enough to win. But his longest break from golf might have given him a glimpse of what its like to stop playing.
I dont want to play when I know I cant play at this level, at the highest of levels, he said. If you wanted me to go out there and play right now, I couldnt stand to go out there and not be able to fully compete against these guys and not really give them a run for their money. I couldnt handle that part of it.
That definitely gave me a better appreciation for my future and leaving the game of golf competitively, he said. As far as trying to make money off my buddies, I will always do that. But as far as competing at the highest of levels, yeah, I have a better appreciation for when that day comes.
Retirement can wait. Woods now is occupied only with playing again.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''