Day 12 Tiger Becomes a Father

By Brian HewittDecember 10, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's note; In the holiday spirit, the GolfChannel.com Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 12
 
Day 12Tiger Woods golf game sure went to hell in a hand basket after the birth of his first daughter. It was inevitable, wasnt it?
 
Thats what certain uninformed critics were predicting anyway.
 
The worlds best golfer, they said, would lose his focus. The game wouldnt be important to him anymore, they said. Hed never win another major.
 
So along comes daughter Sam Alexis Woods on Monday, June 18, 2007. And sure enough Tiger stumbles to a sixth-place finish three weeks later at his own new tournament near Washington D.C. Then its off to the Open Championship at Carnoustie and Woods mails in a T12.
 
Tiger Woods, Sam Alexis Woods, Elin Woods
Tiger and Elin welcomed Sam Alexis into the world on June 18th.
See? See?
 
But where, exactly, were those same critics when Tiger returned from Scotland and won the WGC-Bridgestone?
 
Where were their strident voices when he followed that up with a resounding victory at the PGA Championship in the searing heat of Tulsa?
 
Yes, Phil Mickelson outdueled him Sunday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. But Tiger bounced right back with wins at the BMW Championship near Chicago and the TOUR Championship in Atlanta. In the process $10 million in deferred monies got wired into his retirement account for winning the inaugural FedExCup. Not a bad little start for little Sam Alexis trust fund.
 
OK, lets be serious about this for a second. Not too many really believed being a father would impede Woods' inexorable march to becoming the greatest golfer, with the greatest record, of any player who ever lived.
 
Now he just has a little more balance in his life. And hes the first to admit it. Here are a few of his own words on the subject:
 
I cant describe how wonderful it is to be a father. This is something I dreamed about and I am enjoying every minute. Its a good thing I dont need much sleep.
 
Something that Elin (Tigers wife and Sams mother) and I talked about on the first night was how can you love something so much that didnt exist the day before. We had never experienced anything like that. ... Its something we want to experience again.
 
Jack Nicklaus, somebody pointed out to Woods, won all 18 of his major championships after being a father.
 
I havent quite experienced what he experienced, Tiger said of Jack, and how its going to be when we start traveling together. But for him to do that throughout his entire career and raise great kids, just great kids'I mean Barbara (Nicklaus wife) is fantastic. Shes the best. And to have as close a family as they have, because a lot of times, when people are traveling a bunch, theres a disconnect.
 
Thats certainly not apparent in the Nicklaus household. Thats something that, you know, I want to have as well, because my mom and dad were always there for me, and I know I cant physically be there all the time. Thats something thats going to be frustrating because you want to be there, and unfortunately I cant be there physically all the time, but Ill try and be there as much as I possibly can.
 
There were, Tiger said, complications in the final stages of the pregnancy. Elin was admitted to the hospital on a Thursday and didnt deliver Sam Alexis until Monday. But mother and baby were resting comfortably by the end of the week.
 
So we can add the birth of Tiger Woods first child to those lists of things that happened On This Day June 18.
 
Beatle Paul McCartney was born on June 18. So was film critic Roger Ebert. And on June 18, 1928 aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean when she flew from Newfoundland to Wales.
 
Sam Alexis Woods, meanwhile, is already famous for putting the lie to the myth that fatherhood would derail the career arc of Tiger Woods.
 
And for that, everybody in golf can be thankful.
 
Related Links:
  • News: Elin Gives Birth to a Daughter
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown
  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

    Getty Images

    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

    Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.