Woods aura still strong outside the ropes
A large photo of Woods, dressed in black shorts and a red Stanford cap, was splashed across the front of The Melbourne Age on Tuesday morning. Imagine what it was like when he actually put a golf club in his hand. Even Woods was alarmed to see an estimated 7,000 fans covering every inch of space available at Kingston Heath to see his first appearance Down Under in 11 years.
Not long after he played nine holes with Craig Parry, the course was virtually empty.
“Nothing more to see for the day,” one fan said as he headed for the exit.
Combine that with a week in camera-happy China, where caddie Steve Williams set the golf bag down to use the restroom, and it was surrounded within seconds by some 50 fans. Just more evidence that Woods’ aura is larger than ever.
At least outside the ropes.
His mystique on the golf course has been a different story over the last three months.
It’s always best to look at the big picture with Woods, and that continues to illustrate his dominance in the game. Eight months after reconstructive knee surgery, unsure how his left leg would respond to practice and play, Woods won six times on the PGA Tour and finished out of the top 10 only three times in 18 tournaments. Even without winning a major, he considers 2009 a success.
The latest snapshot, however, is worthy of attention.
Woods, the best closer in golf, had gone five years without losing a PGA Tour event when he was atop the leaderboard through 36 holes. He has lost his last two tournaments from that spot, both times watching Phil Mickelson pose with the trophy.
The last four times Woods has played in the final group, he has won only one time – the BMW Championship outside Chicago, where he went into the final round with a seven-shot lead.
The latest mishap was the HSBC Champions, and while it’s no shame to spot Mickelson a two-shot lead and fail to win, it was the manner in which Woods so quickly became an also-ran.
With a chance to cut the lead to one shot on the second hole, he missed a 4-foot birdie. With Mickelson safely on the green about 18 feet from the cup on the par-3 fourth, Woods pulled his tee shot into the water and made double bogey. Two holes later, Woods was just about 30 feet from the flag and just inside Nick Watney, giving him a good read on the putt. Instead, he ran it 10 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey.
If not for a 10-foot birdie on the ninth, he would have gone out in 40. Such a score is not unusual with Woods in the final group. It’s just that it usually belongs to another player.
“Just one of those days,” Woods said.
They happen to everyone. They used to happen less frequently to him.
Woods was in the final group of the Tour Championship, two shots behind Kenny Perry, but didn’t have a one-putt birdie until the 16th hole, and by then it effectively was too late to catch up to Mickelson.
It dates to the final round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, where Woods built a four-shot lead going into the weekend, still had a two-shot lead against unheralded Y.E. Yang, and lost for the first time in a major when leading going into the final round.
Woods has won four of the last 12 majors – that’s more than any of his peers have won in their careers. He also has finished runner-up in four of the last 12 majors, this after finishing second only twice in the previous 40 majors.
“You’re not going to win them all,” Woods said Tuesday, noting that Jack Nicklaus was runner-up a record 19 times. “The whole idea is to give yourself a chance in each and every one. I did that three of the four – I gave myself a chance. And unfortunately, just didn’t get it done. You learn from it.”
Even so, his missed chances in regular tournaments – The Barclays, Tour Championship, HSBC Champions – raises the question of whether Yang’s victory at Hazeltine chipped away at Woods’ mystique.
Remember, Woods had lost only one tournament in his career when leading by more than one shot going into the final round, and that was nine years ago in Germany against Lee Westwood. It had never happened in a major, the tournaments that mean the most to Woods.
“He’s normal. He was always going to do that,” Geoff Ogilvy said earlier this year. “I don’t think everybody is going to stand on the tee and say, ‘He’s going to give me a chance.”’
Ogilvy, however, said something could be taken away from Yang’s victory.
“The best thing about it is that the media will stop giving Tiger the tournament after 36 holes,” he said.
Maybe not. But the show still starts with Woods, whose appearance in Melbourne has made his $3 million appearance fee – half of that paid by the government – a non-issue among the Australian media.
The tournament has been a sellout for months, with tickets capped at 100,000 for the week. John Brumby, the Victoria premier, sat with Woods in a press conference Tuesday and said more than 35 percent of the tickets were sold to people either out of state or overseas. He said the economic return would be at least $19 million.
That part of Woods’ appeal hasn’t changed.
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.