The emotion in watching Tiger's video

By Mercer BaggsJune 1, 2017, 1:45 pm

If there’s a lasting image of Tiger Woods, one, at least, you want to be a lasting image, it’s of him smiling. A big smile, full of big teeth. Dimples raised and eyes engaged.

Not that image. The mussed hair. The lifeless stare. Shame and sobriety slowly overcoming whatever had overwhelmed him.

And not that image. The one of him nearly falling while trying to tie his shoe on the hood of a police car. Or the one of him wavering like a barely tethered and tattered flag. Or the one of him unable to comprehend basic instructions, staggering like a punch-drunk former champion, barefoot because he never could get those shoes tied.

We have to get that video up ASAP.

That’s understood. Not everyone will agree, but clicking on a link or pressing play is done by choice. It’s not a forced action. Protesting and apathy can sometimes be one in the same. It’s OK not to look.

This, however, is news. And we are a news outlet.

So why, then, did posting this feel like putting down Lennie?

Just watching the many clips felt soulless. Exploitive. Regretful. Yes, you might have asked to see it, but when you did … that sickness in your stomach. It can’t be unseen.

There’s something about bearing witness that words and descriptions can never equal. You can speak and speak and speak about anything and everything, be as eloquent as Martin Luther King or as bombastic as Don King, but a solitary image can change a million perspectives. A moving one, complemented with agonizing audio, can be even more impactful.

The eyes are the window to the soul. The Bard gets credit for that one. But he meant it observationally. It’s more than that. What a person sees can shake them, wake them, break them.

Seeing Tiger Woods placed in handcuffs … you stand there watching, inches from a large-screen TV. The shoulders immediately slump. Your body, unknowingly rigid and tense, deflates.

Son of a bitch, you think. I can’t believe I feel this bad for this guy, you think.

Why? Because he’s a hero? No. Because of who he is? Not really. Because of what he used to be able to do? Yes. Because he’s a father? Certainly.

Imagine your children’s eyes, fixated on that image: one of you, hands behind your back, two officers on each side. Your son or daughter or both watching the person they adore and idolize, sing-songing the alphabet – “X, Y aaannnd Z.”

Of course they will forgive you. And that, above all, means the most. But it’s there. And they’ve seen it. And they will be forever reminded of it, as will you.

Damn the public life.

Would you want it? Nearly 10 figures in wealth to give up all privacy outside of your house? Sounds like an easy trade. But one misstep and …

People lament that today there is no middle ground. You stand for one side or you stand against it. It’s long been that way in relation to Tiger: You’re an apologist or a hater.

It’s easy not to like him. It’s easy to love him.

But, regardless of side, if you can watch that video and laugh … damn.

Years from now, when someone says “Tiger Woods,” wonder what you will see? Hugging Earl off the 18th at Augusta in ’97. Exalted at the U.S. Open in ’08? Disoriented in the dashcam video of ’17?

It’s all relevant and all Tiger.

But, if you haven't already, take a moment. Watch a clip of that most recent video.

It’s all his doing, you might say. There is no doubt. But don’t you feel it? Sympathy? Maybe, even, empathy? Like you just want to put an arm around him, walking out of custody, and tell him, we’ll get through this.

Maybe that’s a sap talking. A father talking. Maybe you’re harder than that. But if you can watch that and not feel, at least, pity, then where does your window lead to?

Tiger could emerge from this stronger than ever. Or, broken forever. Hopefully, it’s the former. Because if he does, that may be his indelible image.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.