Woods official return comes during telecast

By Associated PressApril 6, 2010, 9:04 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods has an ideal tee time for his return to golf at the Masters – at least as far as TV is concerned.

After weeks of speculation about his playing partners for the opening two rounds at Augusta National, the starting times released on Tuesday had more to do with “when” than “who.”

Woods is to tee off at 1:42 p.m., Thursday in the penultimate group for the second straight year. Barring any delays, his group likely will be on about the eighth hole when ESPN’s live coverage begins at 4 p.m.

It will be the first time Woods has competed since a shocking sex scandal began to unfold the day after Thanksgiving.

Joining him for two days will be Matt Kuchar, a popular figure in these parts from his All-American days at Georgia Tech; and K.J. Choi of South Korea, which is sure to appeal to Augusta National’s broadcast partners in Asia.

Woods is to start at 10:35 a.m. on Friday, limiting coverage of him to live streaming on the Masters’ Web site.

ESPN executive vice president John Wildhack said every “meaningful shot” by Woods will be shown by the network at some point, whether live or as part of highlights.

“This is the Masters Tournament, and that is THE story line, and we’re here to cover the Masters Tournament,” Wildhack said. “Obviously Tiger and the fact this is his return to golf is the story line in terms of individual players, but not the only one.”

At any other tournament, playing with Woods could be a huge distraction because of so many photographers and reporters tagging along, and fans outside the ropes scrambling for a view.

Augusta National is different.

No one is allowed inside the ropes, and fans walk en masse – there’s no running at the Masters.

“It’s going to be a lot more at ease this week than most weeks,” Woods said Monday before he knew of his starting times. “If there’s one week that you would rather have a pairing with me, considering the circumstances, it would probably be this week.”

Choi sure didn’t mind. He was hoping for it.

Despite some language barriers, they are comfortable playing together. Choi last played with Woods in the third round of the Memorial, which Woods went on to win. This will be his 13th time playing with Woods.

“Even when all this came out and the rumors of Tiger coming back, my friends were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you were paired with Tiger when he played his first tournament?”’ Choi said through his interpreter and agent, Michael Yim.

“It’s funny because I sort of had a feeling when I left Dallas that it would be cool if I was paired with Tiger, and it happened,” he said. “It’s a good surprise.”

Choi found out on the 14th hole from a Masters official.

If it didn’t sink in at the time, there were a dozen reporters waiting for him as he walked off the 18th green after his practice round. Choi can expect a lot more attention when he tees off Thursday.

“I like playing with big crowds,” Choi said. “I will probably play more aggressive.”

The gallery following Woods the first two days of practice this week has been enormous, not to mention polite. Woods has received ovations and the occasional “Welcome back, Tiger,” while playing with Fred Couples on Monday and Mark O’Meara on Tuesday.

Choi expects that to continue.

“It’s important that the gallery realize what’s going on,” he said. “To take what happened outside the golf course and bring it inside the golf course, I don’t think that’s right. I believe they’re educated and will respect the game of golf.”

Steve Stricker will be playing in the group ahead of Woods and doesn’t expect any problems. At other tournaments, players have said that could be the toughest spot as photographers walk ahead to get into position.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal,” Stricker said. “There’s a lot of strict policies here. There’s no running up and down the fairways. It’s pretty calm. Typically, each green is loaded with people, anyway. It doesn’t matter when you go out there. It’s five people deep up at each green.

“I think if anywhere you want to be paired ahead of him, this would probably be it.”

In other groupings:

— Phil Mickelson is with Robert Allenby and PGA champion Y.E. Yang on the opposite end of the draw from Woods—10:35 a.m. Thursday, 1:42 p.m. Friday.

— Kenny Perry, 49, is older than both his playing partners combined – 28-year-old Camilo Villegas and 20-year-old Rory McIlroy.

— Bringing up the rear are Adam Scott, David Duval and Ricky Barnes. Duval and Barnes qualified by tying for second in the U.S. Open.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.