Woods to Skip Season-Opener

By Associated PressDecember 29, 2006, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Maui -- The PGA TOUR's 'new era in golf' will begin with an old question.
 
Where's Tiger?
 
Tiger Woods decided Friday not to play next week in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, the second straight elite tournament he has skipped. The Mercedes is only for PGA TOUR winners from the previous year; Woods also sat out the season-ending TOUR Championship in November for the top 30 players on the money list.
 
And it takes some of the sizzle out of the tour's launch of its new FedExCup competition, which it has dubbed a 'new era in golf' in print and TV advertising campaigns over the last month.
 
Woods, who went skiing in Colorado with his family after winning the Target World Challenge on Dec. 17, said he did not have time to get his game ready and wanted to spend more time on vacation.
 
He ended last year winning six consecutive PGA TOUR events, a streak that will remain on hold until Jan. 25 at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, where Woods is the two-time defending champion. He said on his Web site that the extra three weeks off 'will give me much-needed extra time with my family.'
 
'I considered playing in next week's Mercedes-Benz Championship, the official launch of the new FedExCup, but I just haven't been able to prepare,' Woods said. 'I usually spend at least one week working on my game before a tournament, and have been unable to do that this year.'
 
It was the second straight year Woods will not play the winners-only tournament. He missed last year to spend time with his father, whose health was rapidly deteriorating from cancer. Earl Woods died May 3. The only other time Woods did not go to Kapalua was in 2003, when he was recovering from knee surgery.
 
'Hopefully, everyone will understand,' Woods said. 'Obviously, this was a tough decision because Gary Planos and his staff at Kapalua Resort always do such a great job with the event.'
 
Planos, the vice president of operations at Kapalua and tournament host, looked for bright spots on a day of gathering clouds off the west coast of Maui.
 
'Obviously, we're disappointed, but we've got a championship to run next week,' he said. 'Players and weather are risks in this business that I wish I had better control of.'
 
Woods' absence, however, is a setback to PGA TOUR officials trying to build momentum for its new FedExCup competition.
 
The tour revamped its schedule to feature a points race that starts at Mercedes-Benz Championship and concludes with four 'playoff' tournaments at the end of the season, with the winner getting $10 million in deferred compensation.
 
The season starts Thursday without two of the most popular players in golf -- Woods and Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who has not played at Kapalua since 2001. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen did not win on the PGA TOUR last year, meaning the field at Kapalua will have only one major champion from '06 (Geoff Ogilvy) and only eight of the top 20 players in the world.
 
'We understand that when Tiger chooses not to play, fans and sponsors are disappointed,' PGA TOUR spokesman Bob Combs said. 'It's important to remain focused that the Mercedes-Benz Championship still has a great field and there are lots of great story lines, including Stuart Appleby going for his fourth win in a row.'
 
As for the FedExCup, Kapalua is the first of 35 tournaments in the points race for spots in the four-event playoffs. Combs said someone will earn 4,500 points next week 'and that person will be the first FedExCup points leader.'
 
Woods will not have played on the PGA TOUR for nearly four months when he returns at the Buick Invitational. His last tour event was the American Express Championship outside London, where he won by eight shots for his eighth victory of the year.
 
Woods has said his winning streak only applies to PGA TOUR events. He lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England two weeks before the American Express, and he was runner-up in two Asian tournaments in November.
 
He has never played more than 21 official PGA TOUR events a year, and hit a career-low 15 this year, mainly because of his father's death. Woods has picked up more off-course interests in recent years, such as scuba diving, tennis and skiing, and he got married in 2004.
 
In an interview last month, he said he wasn't sure how the FedExCup would affect his schedule, but indicated he might play seven of the last nine weeks, including the Presidents Cup.
 
His decision not to play at Kapalua also is a blow to The Golf Channel, which will be televising the first two rounds of every PGA TOUR event this season (except the majors), and will provide four-day coverage of the first three tournaments, starting with the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
TV ratings typically double whenever Woods is in contention, but the cable outlet probably won't get another chance this season to televise Woods on the weekend. Most of its four-day coverage is for tournaments after the FedExCup ends.
 
The Golf Channel, which only reaches about 90 million homes, ran a full-page ad Friday in USA Today with a photo of Woods rising tall over Appleby, the three-time defending champion at Kapalua, and Vijay Singh.
 
'As we've said all along, it's going to take a good part of the year to see how the FedExCup and playing schedules relate to one another,' Combs said. 'That's a little bit of a work in progress. But the key point is this is a season-long emphasis on competition. The tour is not one particular week, it's one year.
 
'I think we're going to have a great launch, regardless.'
 
Related Links:
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry