Can a Tiger change his stripes

By Doug FergusonApril 7, 2010, 4:55 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods never felt he had to apologize for his temper.

Perhaps the most infamous moment – and there are many – came at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15 shots.

Finishing off the fog-delayed second round on a Saturday morning, Woods hooked his tee shot on No. 18 into the ocean and screamed a series of profane words captured by the boom mike next to the tee marker. In most homes, it was cartoon hour.

Eight months later, during a practice round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Woods came to the 18th tee and went through a list of more swear words as he tried to remember exactly what he had said. Someone finally helped him out by repeating the phrase, adding, “At least that’s what my kids told me.”

Woods didn’t find this funny. His face hardened. His eyes glared.

“I am who I am,” he said and walked away.

And now he’s going to try to be someone he has never been.

Woods said during his 13 1/2-minute statement at Sawgrass that he needed to be more respectful of the game. He pledged that anew on Monday during his press conference at the Masters when asked how he would show more respect.

“I’m actually going to try and obviously not get as hot when I play,” Woods said.

That should be simple enough for now.

Woods is contrite. He has shown more humility. He also is very embarrassed. This is no time to slam a club.

Equally curious, however, was the second half of that pledge.

“But then again … I’m not going to be as exuberant, either,” he said. “I can’t play one without the other, and so I made a conscious decision to try and tone down my negative outbursts. And consequently, I’m sure my positive outbursts will be calmed down as well.”

Picture this.

Woods has a chip from behind the 16th green late Sunday afternoon at Augusta National with a one-shot lead. The ball scoots up the slope, then trickles to the hole and stops on the edge before dramatically dropping for a birdie as the crowd goes crazy.

Woods tips his cap, nods to the gallery and walks to the next tee.

Right.

Emotion – good and bad – has always been part of his game.

His first fist pump came as an 11-year-old when he beat his father for the first time. All square on the 18th at Navy Golf Course, Woods made a 15-foot birdie putt that broke to the right and “I started upper-cutting the air.”

“It was the greatest thing I ever did in my life, beating my dad,” he said three years ago.

For all we know, cussing and throwing clubs might have started even earlier. It has been part of his repertoire for far too long, and Woods hasn’t been able to do much about it.

He once hooked a tee shot at the Byron Nelson Championship and angrily yelled, “Fore!” – even though no fans were allowed on the left side of the fairway. Woods no doubt was keeping himself from saying another four-letter word.

Aware that he shouldn’t swear after a bad tee shot, he hit one into the trees at Firestone one year. His instinct was to let loose some profanity, but knowing the cameras were trained on him, Woods walked to the back of the tee box, bowed his head and let loose – with a young boy looking up at him wide-eyed.

Woods didn’t say why he had to wait until he got caught cheating on his wife to tone down his temper.

The question is how long it lasts. He might be muted at the Masters, but it is hard to imagine him turning into Retief Goosen the rest of his career, much less the season.

“You can never tell what’s going on in somebody’s head,” Padraig Harrington said. “But in Tiger’s case, he had changed in the last couple of years and was definitely tougher on himself on the golf course.”

Looking back, his recent outbursts make sense.

In the last tournament he played, at the Australian Masters, Woods flung his driver to the turf after a poor tee shot. The club bounced into and over the gallery, and Woods went over to retrieve it as if he were picking up his tee. He said nothing to the fans, a greater sin than tossing the club in the first place.

“I’ve won numerous times the last few years, but I wasn’t having anywhere near the amount of fun,” Woods said. “Why? Because look at what I was engaged in. When you live a life where you’re lying all the time, life is not fun. And that’s where I was. Now that’s been stripped all away, and here I am. And it feels fun again.”

Fist pumps are fun.

Arnold Palmer famously threw his visor into the gallery when he won the U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus leapt when he made that 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole of the 1975 Masters, leaving what became known as “bear tracks.”

There’s no reason he has to stop celebrating to get rid of the cursing.

“Golf is usually played with the outward appearance of great dignity,” Masters co-founder Bobby Jones once said. “It is, nevertheless, a game of considerable passion – either the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul.”

Woods is the explosive type. It’s hard to imagine him any other way.

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.