Go time: Woods announces return at WGC-Bridgestone

By Doug FergusonJuly 29, 2011, 12:02 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tiger Woods returns to golf under a new set of circumstances.

He no longer has the caddie he employed for the last 12 years, having fired Steve Williams a month ago. He no longer is among the top 20 in the world, his lowest ranking since Allen Iverson was an NBA rookie. And he might not even be eligible to play on the PGA Tour after a couple of weeks.

After missing two majors during an 11-week break to make sure his left leg was fully healed, Woods announced Thursday evening on Twitter and on his website that he would return next week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

“Feeling fit and ready to tee it up at Firestone next week. Excited to get back out there!” he tweeted

By missing three months – but only four tournaments he would typically play – Woods has gone from No. 81 to No. 133 in the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 125 players qualify for the opening round of the playoffs at The Barclays, likely leaving him only the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship next week to make up ground. Otherwise, he would have at least five weeks off without being able to play on the PGA Tour.

This was the third-longest layoff of his career, and there is as much uncertainty as ever about his future. He has gone more than 20 months without winning, and was last seen in golf shoes on May 12 at The Players Championship when he hobbled off the course after a 6-over 42 on the front nine and withdrew.

He already has had four surgeries on his left knee, and the left Achilles’ gave him just as much trouble. He hurt both of them during the third round of the Masters, although the injuries were described as “minor” when he first mentioned the pain in May.

Along with his health, there has been change off the golf course. Woods left IMG when the contract of longtime agent Mark Steinberg was not renewed. The only endorsement deal for Woods since he returned from a devastating sex scandal was with a Japanese company to promote a heat rub.

Then came the firing of Williams, who caddied for Adam Scott at the U.S. Open, then angered his boss by working for the Australian again at the AT&T National without seeking permission.

Golf Channel reported Thursday night that Bryon Bell, a childhood friend and president of Tiger Woods Design, would caddie for him at the Bridgestone Invitational. Bell has caddied for Woods a no fewer than six times, including wins at the the 1996 U.S. Amateur and 1999 Buick Invitational.

Steinberg declined to confirm Bell would be on the bag, saying in a text message that “no long term been discussed yet as he just decided tonight he was fit and ready to go next week.”

Bell would bring a level of familiarity to Woods, although Bell was implicated during Woods’ sex scandal as allegedly arranging travel for one of his mistresses.

Woods has plunged to No. 21 in the world – his lowest ranking since Jan. 26, 1997 – and he could not get back to No. 1 even if he were to win his next three tournaments.

During his absence, Luke Donald rose to No. 1 in the ranking and 22-year-old Rory McIlroy shattered his scoring record in the U.S. Open at Congressional. Woods had said in July, when he appeared at the AT&T National because it benefits his foundation, that he learned his lesson and would not play again until he was fully healed.

Swing coach Sean Foley said he has talked with Woods twice in the last few weeks, although he has not been with him on the practice range. Woods said on his website that he only recently began practicing.

At least he is returning to a friendly course – Woods has won seven times at Firestone, matching the most he has won on any course as a pro. However, he was at his low point on the course in the Bridgestone Invitational last year when he finished 78th in an 80-man field with the worst 72-hole score of his career. Before that, Woods had never finished out of the top 5.

Woods missed the second half of the 2008 season following reconstructive knee surgery, then sat out five months after crashing his car into a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving night in 2009, changing his career on and off the golf course. His image tarnished, he lost four major corporate endorsements and still has not found an endorsement for his bag. He was divorced in August 2010 and shares custody of his two young children.

On the course, Woods has lost the aura he built while becoming the sport’s most dominant figure in the last 40 years. He remains stuck on 14 majors – the last one was in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines – and he nearly missed the cut the last time the PGA Championship was played at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.