Punch Shot: Will Tiger play again on Tour?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 11, 2016, 7:30 pm

Tiger Woods withdrew from the Safeway Open on Monday, continuing a 14-month streak without playing a PGA Tour event. Is this another road bump or the end of the road for Woods? Our writers weigh in on if we will see Woods compete in a Tour event again:


Tiger Woods will play another PGA Tour event. Technically, he seems likely to play another Tour-sanctioned tournament this year, his unofficial Hero World Challenge. In his statement released on his website, Woods said as much, “I will continue to work hard and plan to play at my foundation’s event [the Hero in December].”

As surprising as Woods’ announcement on Monday that he wouldn’t play this week’s Safeway Open, after 14 months away from the Tour, it seems more likely that Tiger has more concern with the state of his game than his surgically repaired back. He was, after all, still making his way through a dramatic swing change when he went on the DL in late 2015. To expect his game to be ready for primetime after multiple back procedures was probably not realistic.

If waiting until 2017 to rejoin the competitive fray is what he thinks is best, it’s hard to second-guess either his future or his choices. Besides, for Woods, it’s always been about playing his best golf in April and at the season’s four major championships that mattered. Woods will play again on Tour, it just may take some time and some patience.


Tiger Woods won’t quit like this. That’s what walking away now would feel like, more like waving a white flag than retiring.

Whatever Woods is feeling “vulnerable” about, he doesn’t appear ready to give up fighting it.

“I will continue to strive to play tournament golf,” he wrote on his web site on Monday. “I’m close, and I won’t stop until I get there.”

Woods has done so much for golf and people who make their living in the business. Withdrawing from the Safeway Open because he’s feeling “vulnerable” let down a lot of people after he made his intentions to play public so early, and then committed on Friday, but he is owed some grace from the golf world. We’ll take him at his word on this, that he’s close and won’t stop.


The easy answer is yes, because (in theory) he has another decade to play, but with each delayed return it becomes harder to believe.

And so it seems that by aiming for the Hero World Challenge in December, Woods has drawn a line in the sand. It’s an event he hosts. It’s an 18-man exhibition. And it offers the softest possible landing spot, with virtually no expectations for his performance.

If he doesn’t launch his comeback there, then where? The longer he waits, the harder it gets.

This latest fiasco, and the words he used to describe his game – “vulnerable” and “not up to my standards” – paint a bleak picture about his future. His foremost problem, it appears, is not his body but rather his mind, and a battered psyche is not as easy to rehabilitate.

If Woods doesn’t return in the Bahamas, if after two more months he’s not yet ready to put his diminishing skills on display, if his game is still vulnerable and not up to his standards, then it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever compete again. 


I believe Tiger will be back on Tour, but I’m far less confident in that notion than I was 24 hours ago. The issue with this latest setback is that the malady seems to lie between the ears. Woods reiterated that he feels healthy and strong, but a rebuilt body apparently isn’t enough to resurrect his game.

Anyone that has struggled with consistency at their local muni, let alone in front of every camera against the best in the world, knows how fragile confidence can be on the course. That fragility now seems to be working against Woods, and unlike a knee injury or back surgery there is no set timeline for recovery on the mental side of the game.

It is jarring and sad to hear arguably the greatest competitor golf has ever seen describe his game as “vulnerable,” and it illustrates just how far he has fallen. Many perceived Woods’ rock bottom to be his funereal press conference last year in the Bahamas, but perhaps that wasn’t entirely accurate. Still, the chances are that he will return – hopefully in December, a soft landing spot that could propel him to a more structured schedule in the spring with an eye toward the Masters. It remains the most likely option for a one-time great who is still just 40 years old.

But Monday’s revelation reinforced the fact that Woods doesn’t need another comeback. He has already achieved more than most could in multiple lifetimes, and if his confidence can’t rise above “vulnerable,” we may have already seen him for the last time.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."