Predicting Tigers Return

By Brian HewittFebruary 1, 2009, 5:00 pm
Isleworth Country Club, where Tiger Woods lives, practices and plays golf, is the games version, these days, of the old Kremlin.
Situated amid the spring-fed Butler chain of lakes of southwest Orlando, Isleworth is one the prettiest places in Central Florida. And comparisons with the center of the Communist world back in the height of the Cold War have nothing to do with diametrically opposed ideologies.
Its just that the information coming out of Moscow in the old days was very guarded. The experts at deciphering that information were called: Kremlinologists.
Similarly Tigers camp keeps its own, close, careful counsel. Rarely does anything newsy emerge from Woods inner circle unless it has first been released on There are no Tigerologists.
But there are Tiger sightings. And people do talk. And right now the entire golf world hangs on every scrap that might hint at when Woods will return from the reconstructive surgery he underwent last June after capturing the U.S. Open in a playoff over Rocco Mediate.
Recently word leaked out of Isleworth that Woods was not only playing more holes on a regular basis, but that he had adopted a new, much wider stance. This development came from a reliable source, who had watched Woods hitting balls at length and actually played a few holes with him.
Could this mean Woods was experimenting, as many had predicted, with a new swing that would put less pressure on his knee and produce less torque as a safety measure? The source also said Woods was looking incredibly buff.
So I ran it all past Hank Haney, Woods swing coach and the pair of eyes he trusts most when it comes to his game. Haney patiently responded without revealing any trade secrets. He is fiercely protective of a student from whom he freely admits he has learned more than he has taught.
Yes, Tiger is playing more holes at Isleworth, Haney said. And of course he is looking buff. He has been working out for about four hours a day for, like, six months.
As for Tiger looking different with his swing and working off a wider stance to be more protective of the knee? No.
How about this analysis: Tiger has played one tournament in nine months. One. The result of that is a lot of rustiness in his game.
He has had a lot of little things that have been different over the course of his working to get his game back on track. But to assume that everything that is different is by design is a wrong assumption.
Remember, assumption is the mother of all screw-ups. I was down last week (mid-January) to Isleworth and his stance was fine. I came down the next week and noticed that his stance with the driver was very wide. That has since been corrected. So that blows the theory of the new wide stance.
He is just practicing mostly, started playing a little recently and working to get the rust off. It is a slow process when you havent played in nine months.
I have no idea when Tiger will be ready to play. I do know that before he left the game for his surgery he had won 10 of 13 tournaments with two seconds and a fifth. So it might take a little while to get his game back to that level and I know that he isnt just looking to participate.
So what does all this mean and how should we best interpret it?
For starters, Woods is human. Like all golfers, he develops a bad habit every now again. Thats why Haney monitors him.
One teacher said the wide stance could have been a temporary device on Woods part until the knee is 100 percent. But the Isleworth source said Woods showed no trace of a limp and was taking his usual aggressive lines on shots that required long-distance carries.
We know Woods is as desperate to play in the Masters in April as we all are to have him in the field. We know he would like at least one tune-up before Augusta National. We also know that Woods doesnt want to return to competitive golf unless he feels like he can win immediately. He told us as much at his own tournament in December in California.
We also know his wife, Elin, is due to deliver the couples second child sometime this month. That anticipated event is an even higher priority than the knee and the comeback.
So there are a lot of moving parts here and a lot of variables. Haney is correct to assert that assumptions are dangerous.
Last month the Associated Press reported that it was likely Woods would make his 2009 debut at the WGC Accenture Match Play later this month near Tucson. Nobody from the Woods responded. And, to repeat, Haney doesnt know when Woods will be ready.
But the Match Play makes even more sense now for several reasons: Accenture is one of Woods sponsors. He is the defending champion. The galleries at the event arent historically huge. So an appearance at the Match Play would give Woods a relatively hassle free opportunity to check back in with his fellow players and the media. The circus there wouldnt have as many rings.
This much we know for sure: Tiger Woods will tell us where and when his next tournament will be only when he decides the right time has arrived.
So actually there is a Tigerologist out there. His name is Tiger Woods.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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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, 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.