Tiger Has His Win and the S Word is Forgotten
I dont know who said Tiger was in a- shhh now - S-L-U-M-P. I failed to see it anywhere. I have seen plenty of stories from journalists who tried to cozy up, ridiculing those of us for daring to mention that something might be a little wrong with the man who was so nearly perfect last year.
Yes, some of us did have the temerity to point out that, compared to last year, he certainly hasnt played as well. We are comparing him, of course, to the magnificent standards he set the past 18 months. As far as I know, no one said that he has s-l-u-m-p-e-d compared to your average everyday pro. If that is the standard Woods wants to be compared to, fine. He definitely has not been in a s-l-u-m-p. But compared to his performance last year when he won almost 50 percent of the time he teed it up, well...
But of course, I dont 'know golf.' Im not really sure what Tiger meant by that. Does he mean that I dont know what it feels like to hit a wedge 185 yards? Hes right, of course. Does he mean I dont know golfs heritage, all about Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen and Wild Bill Melhorn? I confess its probably true. Does it mean I cant read, that I cant read nine wins in 20 starts - Tiger Woods record last year? Just what does he mean? The media surely doesnt know golf, whatever that means.
Question: Does it bug you that the media is ' that we make it a story line that, My God, hes gone six events and he hasnt won, whats wrong with the guy?
Tiger Woods: Well, it's annoying because of the fact that if you think that way, then you really don't understand the game of golf. And obviously, some of the media ... '
Anyway, thank goodness thats over with. His second shot to No. 18 at Bay Hill put an end to his troubles of the past six months or so.
This defensive posture was actually something of a surprise. He was the picture of politeness and good grace last year as he mopped up on everything in sight. He won over everyone with his easy manner and his humbleness, in spite of his brilliant play. 'The media,' whom he later criticized for their lack of golf knowledge, swooned appropriately. And they should have ' what they were seeing was an undeniable demonstration of something never before seen by journalists. It was perfection. Pure perfection.
Then came the last three tournaments of last year, and Tiger didnt win. He includes three events in the offseason, the Johnnie Walker in Thailand and a couple of others which werent really tournaments, the World Cup and the Grand Slam. The World Cup he teamed with David Duval, and Duval was really the Main Man. But Woods won the Slam against three others, and he played well in doing it.
This year, five tournaments had gone by without a victory, six if youre generous and count Dubai. Yes, some of us are worldly enough to know about Dubai. Its a European Tour event. It draws a pretty good field of Europeans. But not even Europes best would term it equal to Bay Hill. Anyway, Woods lost with a meltdown on the 72nd hole. Not bad, certainly, but it certainly wasnt last year.
Tiger doesnt have the par-3 bugaboo to worry about now. Hes No. 27 on par-3 birdies, way up from his former rank of 135. The par-4 birdie percentage has gone down, from No. 4 to 85th, but that still is a little better than average. His putting is still a problem ' he ranks 121st now compared to 140th. He said the putting would come down once he gets on reliable greens, and it has. Memo: how did everyone else manage the thin greens? Tiger was raised out West, where the greens were a problem. Nonetheless, he said the putting would improve, and it did.
Most of all, though, Woods is still the master of the do-or-die shot. That one at 18 absolutely, positively had to be near-perfect ' and it was. You can argue all you want about the ball going out of bounds if it hadnt hit the man standing it front of the cart path. But hit him it did, and Woods got a break that he hasnt been getting lately. And then to follow the good break with an absolutely perfect iron to 12 feet was so remniscent of the PGA of 99. Or the unbelievable bunker shot over the pond that he hit to win last years Canadian event. Those might be once-a-year shots, but Woods does it far more than anyone else.
Tiger at Bay Hill was brilliant in stretches, merely adequate in others. But that was the situation in several of his wins last year. He did what he had to do to win Sunday. And he won against an extremely strong field ' dangerous Phil Mickelson was the man waiting for a playoff had Woods not birdied 18. He was one clear of Sergio Garcia after three rounds.
So Tiger has won again, and things should change now. No one will write that he is in a s-l-u-m-p. Hes broken through again ' thank goodness. Maybe this was what Greg Norman was referring to when he said wait and see what happens when he has a down period. But Tiger has won, and even those of us who dont know about golf can see that it was incomparable.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
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