Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 1
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike G-5 jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore - a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
This was our itinerary:
Monday, November 27
Arrival of various WST participating media ' The Golf Channel interviews Bob Wood at Nike HQ
7:00 ' 10:00 pm Dinner with WST media, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast and Tom Stites
Tuesday, November 28
6:15 am Group meets in Portland hotel lobby for transfer to Hillsboro airport
7:00 am Corporate jet departs for Los Angeles
7:45 am Breakfast on the plane
8:45 am Arrive L.A. ' Hawthorne Airport
9:05 am Product presentation and Tiger Woods press conference in hanger
9:45 am Tiger hits Sumo driver on airport runway
9:55 am Media hits Sumo and Sumo drivers on runway
10:20 am One-on-one interviews with Tiger Woods (Golf Channel 12:05 ' 12:15)
1:00 pm David Duval arrives at Hawthorne Airport
1:30 pm Nike jet departs for Scottsdale with WST passengers and David Duval
3:20 pm Arrive in Scottsdale ' ground transfer to TPC Scottsdale
3:30 pm Product presentation and David Duval press conference
4:00 pm David Duval hits Sumo driver on driving range
4:30 pm Media hits Sumo and Sumo on driving range
4:45 pm Golf Channel interview with David Duval
5:30 pm Hotel check-in, Scottsdale
6:45 pm Jason Gore meets WST passengers in hotel lobby, group transfer to dinner
7:00 pm Group dinner
9:00 pm Return to Scottsdale hotel ' end of scheduled day
Wednesday, November 29
6:30 am Group meets in hotel lobby for transfer to airport
6:45 am Nike jet departs for Teterboro Airport, New Jersey
8:00 am Breakfast on the plane
9:00 am Interviews on the plane (Jason Gore, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast)
12:40 pm Nike jet arrives at Teterboro Airport
12:50 pm Group transfer to World Financial Center, New York City
1:30 pm Group arrives at World Financial Center, New York City
1:45 pm Group lunch
3:00 pm Product presentation and Jason Gore press conference
3:30 pm Jason Gore demonstrates Sumo driver in hitting cage with launch monitor
3:45 pm Media and general public invited to hit Sumo and Sumo driver in hitting cages
4:45 pm The Golf Channel interviews Tom Stites
5:00 pm WST conclusion
5:00 pm Hotel transportation
5:40 pm Hotel check-in / end of scheduled day
Thursday, November 30
WST participants who stayed over Wednesday night depart for home destinations
The assignment given to me by The Golf Channel ' create a reporters video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible with three cameras. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
For me the WST tour started Monday at 4:00 am in Orlando en route to Portland, Oregon. My initial task was to interview Nike Golfs president, Bob Wood, at Nikes headquarters in Beaverton, Oregonjust a fifteen minute ride from Portland airport. Well, its usually 15 minutes. In this case, however, it took 40 minutes. Bad weather was the culprit. What started off in sunshine turned to rain, turned to freezing rain, turned to snow, turned back to rainturned back to sunshineall in the span of 10 minutes. Kind of like New England; if you dont like the weather just wait a minute.
We were warmly greeted at Nike by Beth Gast, Nike Golfs public relations director in charge of the Whistle Stop Tour. In fact, the tour was Beths idea to begin with, hatched some eight months earlier. We interviewed Bob Wood without incident ' focusing half our questions on Nike Golf business, Nikes two new drivers and the Whistle Stop Tour itself. The other half of our questions centered on his thoughts in connection with Tiger Woods 1997 Masters championship. This in preparation for a special The Golf Channel will run next year commemorating Tigers record setting victory.
I noticed several things about Bob Wood while talking to him, interviewing him, and later that Monday evening, dining with him. His 26 year history with Nike ' the last eight or nine years running Nike Golf ' are filled with pride, passion, commitment, belief, and, a true sense of team. Not at the expense of, however, having fun and living a normal life. As normal as life can be in his position. His passion for and belief in Nike are as earnest as the day is long. The same is true for the people he has working on the team around him.
Bob Wood is opinionated; robustly so. What might strike someone initially as over opinionated or over confident would be an incorrect assessment. Yes, Bob Wood is opinionated, he is confident; but these are traits in the man that you quickly gravitate towards, not shy away from. The more he talked, the more I wanted to listen. Not just about Nike, not just about golf, not just about Tiger. Rather, about all kinds of things: life, music, wine, current affairs, business in general, family, outside interests, likes and dislikes. Hes got quite a few of those, come to think of it. I think it was the conversation about Tiger that so completely and involuntarily captured my attention. Bob has gotten to know Tiger quite well over the years. His insights were enlightening, clever, revealing.
This was of particular interest to me and for good reason. Come tomorrow at noon, I was going to have my first one-on-one interview with Tiger Woods.
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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