Tiger saga dwarfs plenty of 09 memories

By Doug FergusonDecember 23, 2009, 5:31 am

For some golf fans, Feb. 19 effectively marked the start of the season.

It wasn’t because Phil Mickelson finally got his game on track with a 63 at Riviera, rather it was the day Tiger Woods posted a statement on his Web site that filled golf with optimism it had been missing for eight months.

“I’m now ready to play again,” Woods said, announcing his return from knee surgery.

What followed were plenty of memories in 2009. The fairy tale that turned into a heartbreaker at Turnberry when 59-year-old Tom Watson failed to make par from the middle of the 18th fairway and lost the British Open in a playoff. Henrik Stenson making more news for stripping down to his skivvies than for winning The Players Championship. Michelle Wie winning more tournaments than Vijay Singh.

Too bad so few people will remember.

Because the year effectively ended Dec. 11 with another statement Woods posted on his Web site.

“After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf,” he said.

Mark those two dates as the alpha and omega of the 2009 season, and allow yourself to soak up some of the moments in between.

It wasn’t the best year in golf – it can’t be, not with as much focus on the runner-up as the winner.

Angel Cabrera won the Masters at the expense of Kenny Perry, at 48 trying to become the oldest major champion. Lucas Glover’s magnificent 8-iron to the 16th at Bethpage Black was overshadowed by Mickelson missing two short par putts. Stewart Cink denied the golf world one of its greatest stories by beating Watson in the playoff. And Y.E. Yang made more news for whom he beat (Woods) than what he won (the PGA Championship).

With a putt here and a chip there, the major champions could have just as easily been Chad Campbell, Ricky Barnes and Chris Wood.

Watson might have been the most celebrated runner-up in history, trumping Greg Norman’s collapse in the 1996 Masters. Even five months later, it all seems so impossible that a player past his prime even by Champions Tour standards could crouch over an 8-foot putt with a chance to put his name on the claret jug again, 34 years after it first was engraved.

A devastating loss? It apparently was for reporters, but not for the man.

“This ain’t a funeral, you know,” Watson said with that gap-tooth grin as he walked into the media center.

Mickelson also found perspective in defeat after another amazing tale that lacked only the happy ending. His world rocked by his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, Mickelson again found himself on the cusp of an elusive U.S. Open title. The long birdie at the 12th. The eagle on the 13th. Bethpage already was flooded by a week of rain, and the tear ducts were starting to leak.

Then, he missed par putts from 3 feet and 8 feet over the final four holes, and made history as a runner-up for the fifth time.

“Now that’s over, I’ve got more important things going on. And … oh, well,” Mickelson said.

Perry showed golf is a game for the ages by winning twice and finishing No. 5 on the money list. The teenage infusion came from Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who cracked the top 10 in the world ranking by the end of the year, and from 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, the youngest player to win the money title on a recognized tour (Japan).

Woods showed again why he is measured by a different standard. Despite seven victories worldwide, the FedEx Cup, another PGA Tour money title, Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average and every award for player of the year, he had to explain why it was a great year without a major championship.

Instead, he won a different kind of Grand Slam – a victory in his final start before every major.

For all the grousing about the FedEx cup, it delivered the ultimate Cinderella in Heath Slocum, who qualified for the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, then won the opening event over Woods, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els. The last three playoff events were won by the top three players in the world ranking – Woods, Mickelson and Stricker. So something is working.

Wie, meanwhile, might have the best of two worlds. She appears to be loving everything about college life at Stanford – something hardly any of her peers ever experienced – and she had a blast on the course, too, winning for the first time and playing a key role in the Americans’ victory in Solheim Cup.

Arnold Palmer turned 80, and while this doesn’t count as a present, it was announced a few weeks before his birthday that Jack Nicklaus would be joining him for the ceremonial tee shot at the Masters next year.

Golf was not without a scandal. The tour announced Doug Barron became the first player to test positive for a performance-enhancing substance. This didn’t make a lot of news because so many fans didn’t know who Doug Barron was.

And by the end of the year, there was only one scandal.

The way the last month has gone, there was really only one story.

It was Tiger Woods.

And it had nothing to do with his golf.

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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.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm