New Tiger looks nothing like the old one

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2010, 4:36 pm

The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Even at his worst, Tiger Woods has never looked this bad.

It was only a month ago that Woods returned to golf with a performance that satisfied everyone but him. He tied for fourth in the Masters, his first competition in five months. And while his personal life was a mess, it appeared his golf game wasn’t about to suffer.

So much has changed in such a short time.

Woods looked lost on the golf course in missing the cut at Quail Hollow last week with the highest 36-hole score of his career. He looked even more distant as he sat in front of his locker Sunday at the TPC Sawgrass with his head bowed, elbows resting on his knees. He failed to finish another tournament, this time because of a sore neck that forced him to withdraw after six holes.

It was the first time Woods, with more than $93 million in career earnings, has gone consecutive weeks without making a dime.

“It’s early,” Paul Goydos said. “What he’s going through is unprecedented. We don’t know what’s going on. At some point, his life will normalize, as normal as Tiger’s life ever gets. And then we’ll see.”

When he looked up to take a few questions, Woods leaned against his locker with his eyes closed as if he were not listening. At one point, he slammed his shoe to the floor.

Tiger Woods swings golf clubThree months ago in the same clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass – down the hallway and up a flight of stairs – Woods appeared in public for the first time to read a statement about the extramarital affairs that shattered his image and fractured his family.

He wore a dark suit then, his Sunday red shirt now.

In both cases, his aura of invincibility was missing.

It is too early to judge how Woods will recover from this scandal, and it doesn’t help that Woods is no more forthcoming about his game or his health than he was even in good times.

Only at the Masters did he reveal he had a torn Achilles’ during 2009. And while he said Friday that his rebuilt left knee was 100 percent, he never said anything about his neck until Sunday, when he mentioned that it had been bothering him before the Masters.

Who knew?

He has received warm receptions, though the praise is not universal. One woman in Charlotte, N.C., gave a thumbs-down when Woods walked by on his way to the tee. The low point might have come Saturday, when a young boy with an autograph from Phil Mickelson yelled out to Woods, “Tiger, say so long to No. 1. Kiss it goodbye.”

Mickelson, who could have replaced Woods at No. 1 with a victory Sunday, was standing only a few feet away.

“He got heckled by a 7-year-old,” Goydos said with wonder. “That’s brutal. He’s got to get used to that. He’s got a lot on his head and the game is hard. And it’s hard for everybody. He made it look so easy, so when he’s not making it look easy, we wonder what’s wrong. He’s going through a tough patch. If he has 80 percent of the people completely idolizing him, that’s still a big drop.

“He hasn’t been playing, and he’s not playing well,” Goydos said. “And he’s never been under a microscope like this before.”

Woods bristled at the media for making a big deal about hitting five balls in the water during nine holes of practice Tuesday. He said he was working on his swing, not overly concerned with the results when he wasn’t keeping score. But when the tournament began, there were shots that didn’t belong to the No. 1 player – or any PGA Tour player.

Woods twice popped up a tee shot so badly that he had to hit 5-wood for his second shot into a par. Another went 45 degrees to the right and landed in the pond on an adjacent hole.

Even the shots that stayed inside the gallery looked ordinary. This hardly looked like the guy who collected his 82nd title worldwide in Australia six months ago, or who has 14 majors going into a year in which he is expected to resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus.

The U.S. Open next month is at Pebble Beach, where Woods won by 15 shots. Then comes the British Open at St. Andrews, where he already has won twice by a combined 13 shots.

“His history is particularly good at those golf courses, “Goydos said. “If he goes through all those places and is not competitive, then you can ask questions.”

So many questions still remain.

Woods will not delve into family matters, although a divorce seems imminent. He spent some of his time at The Players Championship denying speculation that he is about to leave Hank Haney, his swing coach since 2004.

Haney said he had been paid last week for work in the next quarter. Woods followed by confirming that he was still working with Haney, although he didn’t go into specifics and spoke throughout the week about changes to his swing.

Meanwhile, it already is May and Woods is No. 122 on the PGA Tour money list. He is tied for 147th in the FedEx Cup standings. He will stay No. 1 in the world for the next two weeks, at least until Mickelson next plays at the Colonial and gets another shot at him.

Above all, he does not look like the same Tiger – and he’s certainly not playing like him.

“Tiger is facing his greatest challenge,” Hal Sutton said earlier in the week. “Tiger meets every challenge with his head held high and knowing that he will overcome. He’s had better control of his mind than almost any player I’ve ever watched play the game.

“You know, I’m sure Tiger will figure that out,” he said. “He’s figured everything else out.”

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.