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New version of Tiger-mania hits the PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonDecember 6, 2017, 12:51 am

NASSAU, Bahamas - The latest comeback by Tiger Woods, this one following a 10-month absence from a fourth back surgery in three years, was sure to cause some disruption in the workforce with the weekday television coverage.

That included the commissioner's office at the PGA Tour.

''I would consider myself to be among the highly distracted as Tiger played his first round,'' Jay Monahan said Tuesday.

Monahan was at the Hero World Challenge the day before it began and stayed for the pro-am dinner, where he said Woods spoke from the heart about his foundation, thanked the other 17 players for coming and reminded them they had a chance to compete against a player at No. 1,199 in the world ranking.

''That broke up the room,'' Monahan said with a laugh.

Indeed, it's rare for a player to tie for ninth and move up 531 spots in the world ranking - Woods now is all the way up to No. 668 - but such were the circumstances. The field featured eight of the top 10 in the world, and it included one guy who had earned ranking points at only two tournaments over the last two years.

There's no way to go but up.

That's what Monahan took away from the holiday exhibition, only he wasn't talking about the world ranking.

''We had such a strong year with great, young players stepping forward,'' he said. ''You add Tiger back in the mix, and we all go away from it with a lot of excitement.''

How much Woods is in the mix remains to be seen, although this was as strong as he has looked in four years. Next up is figuring out a schedule that Woods said would be geared around the four majors. He hasn't played all four since 2015, and he hasn't made the cut in all of them since 2013.

Most of the young players at Albany Golf Club - Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger - know more about the legend of Woods than what it's like to have him at tournaments.

Thomas got a taste of it.

He is the FedEx Cup champion and PGA Tour player of the year after winning five times, including his first major at the PGA Championship. He started the new season by winning the CJ Cup in South Korea.

And when he sat down for a news conference, his first six questions were about Woods.

Thomas was paired with Woods for the first and final rounds, and while Woods had the largest gallery, there was rarely more than about 250 fans. It's the Bahamas. So when Thomas was asked if felt the effect of Woods on the golf course or in his news conference, he smiled.

''I would say more of the fact that I just won the FedEx Cup, player of the year, and all I get asked about is Tiger Woods,'' he said. Thomas was not the least bit irritated, even though this was the 10th out 12 consecutive questions he fielded about Woods on that day.

''I thought it was bad the questions I got asked about Jordan,'' Thomas said.

Golf wasn't suffering without Woods, not inside the ropes.

Dating to when Woods had his first back surgery, Rory McIlroy won two majors in 2014; Spieth got halfway to the calendar Grand Slam in 2015; Dustin Johnson fulfilled his potential with his first major in 2016 and was voted Player of the Year. And this year brought the emergence of the 24-year-old Thomas.

No one can draw attention to golf like Woods - not individually, maybe not collectively. That's no surprise.

''The keen golf fans will know Tiger moved the needle and brought people in that might be sports fans, but not golf fans,'' Henrik Stenson said. ''But everyone who follows golf closely, I don't think they've been home thinking, 'Oh, this is not exciting anymore,' when all the guys at the top have been winning. It's been a healthy couple of years, even though he's not been on the scene.

''I don't think he can make it less good, having the old Tiger back and trying to charge through the field,'' Stenson said. ''It would make it even more exciting.''

There's also the danger, especially in today's social media climate, to gush so much over Woods that it seems no one else is playing and tournaments that Woods doesn't play are not worth watching.

This is nothing new. The PGA Tour has been facing questions like this for 20 years.

Monahan sees only an upside now.

''We have such a deep bench of young, international players, combined with a great group of veterans. All have accomplished a lot in their own right, week in and week out. The story lines will be strong,'' Monahan said. ''You take a strong PGA Tour and just make it stronger. And it doesn't just apply when Tiger is playing. The fact he's back is bringing more attention, more eyeballs, and that's going to benefit everyone.

''It's great to be back in that situation.''

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

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.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

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

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

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.