Woods closes chapter on California childhood

By Doug FergusonDecember 3, 2013, 6:34 pm

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Of all the memories from Tiger Woods' roots in Southern California, it's easy to overlook the time he made an appearance in the Tournament of Roses parade.

OK, so he wasn't the grand marshal. And he had just turned 18.

Woods, coming off his first U.S. Amateur title, rode on the Chiropractic Centennial Foundation float that required seven tons of flowers to build. He wasn't the only celebrity on the float on Jan. 2, 1995. Also riding were singer Lee Greenwood, Hall of Fame baseball player Joe Morgan and Olympic champion speedskater Cathy Turner.

The majestic float was toward the end of the order, trailed only by the Icelandic Horse Adventure Society and the International House of Pancakes.

For sure, there were far greater moments with a golf club in his hand.

Woods was only a toddler when he first went head-to-head with Sam Snead. It was only two holes, and Woods made bogey on both of them. Now, he is only four victories from breaking Snead's record for career PGA Tour victories.

Woods made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera in the 1992 Nissan Open when he was a 16-year-old junior in high school. He might have made the cut if not for a growth spurt during the week that made the shaft in his driver too short. More on that later.

He never won what he often referred to as his ''hometown event'' at Riviera. He made up for it by winning five times at Sherwood Country Club, and that doesn't include his win over David Duval at the illustrious ''Showdown at Sherwood'' in what amounted to Monday Night Golf.

Woods returns to Sherwood this week, in effect closing a chapter on golf in the area he always called home.

The Tiger Woods Learning Center, a superb complex that recently received a Golden Bell Award for excellence in education, remains his tie to Southern California. And the Tiger Woods Foundation headquarters will stay in Irvine.

But he stopped playing Riviera in 2006 after he narrowly made the cut. The only regular event in California that Woods still plays is in Torrey Pines, a two-hour drive from his hometown of Cypress in Orange County. The only time Los Angeles area golf fans could see him play was the World Challenge, a holiday event that attracts an 18-man field of players from the top 50 in the world.

This is the last year at Sherwood. Woods is moving the event to Isleworth, his old home in Central Florida. Then, it could be headed to the Bahamas.

When he won the Canadian Open in 2000 with that 6-iron out of a bunker and over the water, his late father, Earl, said that day, ''In every tournament, he'll hit shots that people will be talking about for 30 years.''

One thing is certain - Woods leaves a trail of stories behind. Here are five from his time in Southern California.

TIGER VS. SLAMMIN' SAMMY

Woods was just starting kindergarten when he was invited to join Snead at Calabassas Country Club just north of LA. They played two holes, starting with a par 3. Woods hit into a creek fronting the green, and Snead suggested he just pick it up and drop it.

''That kind of ticked me off, so I decided to play it out of the water,'' Woods once recalled. ''I knocked it on the green and two-putted for my 4.''

THE DEBUT

Woods missed his first seven cuts on the PGA Tour, starting with the 1992 Nissan Open in his debut at age 16. He opened with a 72 and was in reasonable shape to make the cut until what his father said was a growth spurt. Woods shot 75 the next day and headed back to high school.

''I was hitting the ball good the first few days of the week, but then I suddenly outgrew my club shaft,'' Woods said a year later.

His father said they didn't figure out what happened until the tournament was over.

''He was in a growth cycle, and those teenage muscles just grew overnight,'' Earl Woods said.

THE END OF RIVIERA

A beautiful afternoon off Sunset Boulevard turned nasty without warning, and Woods was on his back nine at Riviera without rain gear in 2006. He bogeyed two of his last three holes for a 74 to presumably miss the cut - until three more players dropped shots coming in and Woods made the cut on the number.

He was to be paired Saturday with J.B. Holmes, a big-hitting rookie who had just smashed his way to victory in Phoenix. The next morning, Woods was a no-show. He withdrew because of the flu, and he has not been back to Riviera since.

THE POWER MOVE

It was baking hot in August for the ''Showdown at Sherwood'' in 1999, a nationally televised exhibition against David Duval, who had returned to No. 1 in the world. Because it was not an official PGA Tour event, the caddies wore shorts.

A PGA Tour rules official ordered them to change into pants. Duval's caddie complied. Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, did not. The rules officials made it clear to Williams that if he did not change into trousers, it would be the last time he caddied on the PGA Tour.

Woods, listening to this conversation, interrupted by saying, ''Guess I'll be playing in Europe next year.''

Williams wore shorts. Woods won the match. And it wasn't long before shorts were approved for caddies on the PGA Tour.

THE WIN

Of the five wins at his World Challenge, none was more meaningful than in 2011. One shot behind with two to play, Woods birdied his last two holes to beat Zach Johnson. It was his first win since his personal life came crashing down, a span of 26 official tournaments over 749 days.

''If he steadily progresses, keeps getting confidence and moving forward,'' Jim Furyk said that day, ''he's going to return and be one of the best players in the game again.''

Woods won three times the following year, five times this year. For his swan song at Sherwood, he is No. 1 in the world.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."