An important Ryder Cup for Tiger Woods
Corey Pavin sat at the head table on the seventh floor of the New York Stock Exchange and announced his four captain’s picks to reporters and PGA of America dignitaries. The players, so thrilled to be chosen you could almost see them beaming as they listened via a conference call, were introduced one by one and asked to say “hello” to their captain.
This was new for Woods. He has led the Ryder Cup standings every time since turning pro.
“Tiger Woods, are you with us today?” PGA spokesman Julius Mason said from the podium. “Say ‘good morning’ to your captain and everybody else in attendance today.”
An awkward silence followed.
Mason turned slightly nervous when he called out his name again, and for the briefest moment, some in the room wondered if Woods didn’t bother calling in or had hung up. Mason looked relieved to finally hear Woods’ voice.
The only time Woods is ever on a conference call is to accept PGA Tour player of the year or to speak to local media at a tournament where he is the defending champion. On Tuesday, he was no different than Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Rickie Fowler – even though he is very different.
Woods has won twice as many majors as the rest of the U.S. team combined, and nearly as many PGA Tour titles. He has been No. 1 in the world longer than seven of his teammates have been on tour.
But he still needed to be a captain’s pick to play. And there’s a reason for that.
True, Woods got a late start on the year when he tried to salvage a marriage that was shattered by his infidelity. He didn’t play until the Masters and has competed only 11 times this year. That still should have been enough for him to qualify for the team, except that Woods had trouble finishing in the top 10.
He no longer looks invincible on the golf course.
The American team no longer can be perceived as Tiger Woods and 11 other guys wearing the same uniform. At the moment, he’s not playing any better than them.
It could be the best thing that ever happened to him.
Woods is not the loner on tour that some make him out to be. At one tournament this year, he bet one of his playing partners who would shoot the lowest score over 36 holes, and the loser had to buy tickets to the movies that afternoon.
And while he privately rolls his eyes at black-tie dinners and opening ceremonies at the Ryder Cup that can feel more like a presidential inauguration, the best times of the year are spent in the team room with his fellow Americans.
“What nobody understands – it doesn’t matter if it’s you or my son or a fan on TV or Tiger’s mom – you don’t get it unless you’re in the team room,” said Davis Love III, an assistant captain this year. “Tiger is great in the team room. He’s a smart guy. He’s a talented player. He wants to do everything he can to win. He’s learned how to be a quiet leader and a vocal leader. He’s learned to say the right things. It’s just hard to describe.”
Woods makes it sound as if this Ryder Cup is no different from the others.
“I’m part of the team, and honored to be part of the team,” Woods said. “Whether I was a person who was picked or a person who earned their way on the squad, it doesn’t change the overall goal. It’s still the same. And that’s to go over there and win.”
But it is different.
Woods still gets the bulk of attention because of who he is and what he has done. He will get most of the questions, and while queries into his divorce have tapered off, they are sure to come up again in the British tabloids.
Even so, he is closer than ever to being one of 12.
His relationship with Pavin is surprisingly strong. A month ago, without prompting, Woods referred to Pavin as one of the greatest players ever in golf considering his limited length in an era of power.
The day before the PGA Championship, TV reporter Jim Gray pointed his finger toward Pavin’s face and chest during a dispute over an interview. Woods found out about it the next morning during a fog delay at Whistling Straits. After finishing his first round, when Gray asked a question, Woods offered a terse answer and turned his head to find the next question.
It was a not-so-subtle message that Woods had the captain’s back.
Woods spent the last two days at the Deutsche Bank Championship going over the captain’s picks as if he were going to be in room with Pavin and his assistants trying to decide who to take.
The only time he bristled Tuesday is when a British reporter suggested he had been indifferent about the Ryder Cup.
“I don’t know where the perception of indifference is, because I’ve always loved it,” Woods said. “The team bonding that occurs, getting to know the guys and everyone there that’s associated with our team, are experiences that you’ll never forget. And I’ve created some great friendships because of it.”
This will be the seventh Ryder Cup team for Love, his first as an assistant, so he knows what to expect when 12 individuals get together, no matter how good they are, no matter how much they’ve been through.
“He’s a welcome addition,” Love said, “because we want to wrap our arms around him and bring him back to us.”
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.