Punch Shot: Will Woods be ready for British Open?

Although Tiger Woods' first start since back surgery ended with a missed cut at Congressional, some saw it as a step in the right direction. GolfChannel.com writers debate whether or not he'll be ready to resume his major quest in three weeks at Hoylake.

By JASON SOBEL

Yes, of course Tiger Woods is going to be ready for the Open Championship in three weeks – even with a scheduled vacation thrown in beforehand.

This latest debate is like the ugly stepchild of one that’s been argued for years. Anytime Tiger – or Phil or Rory or any other world-class player who gears his game toward four weeks each year – doesn’t “peak” prior to a major championship, there are questions as to why and how and it hasn’t happened. When in reality, they’ve done exactly what they’ve set out to do: Build some continuing momentum, without playing their best golf on a non-major week.

Same thing here. Tiger made what was essentially a rehab start at Congressional last week. He admitted he was rusty and admitted he probably wouldn’t have his best stuff. And he didn’t. So now the narrative is that he somehow failed to prepare properly for the upcoming major?

Nope, I’m not buying it. If anything, his missed cut should still be viewed as successful, because he accomplished his main goal. He played a few rounds of competitive golf and felt fine afterward. That’s a win, even if it didn’t come with a trophy.

Three weeks from now, a win will only come if, well, he wins. That might not happen, of course, but it won’t be because he doesn’t have his game ready for Hoylake.


By RYAN LAVNER

This obviously violates Rule Nos. 1, 2 and 3 when it comes to Tiger Woods – never underestimate him – but it’s difficult to express any sort of optimism that the former world No. 1 will be a contender in three weeks’ time.

Since March 31 back surgery, Woods said that for months all he was able to do was chip and putt. It sure didn’t look like it at Congressional, where he got up and down just three times in 16 chances. Worse, he blamed the type of grass – rye, not the Bermuda he has in his backyard – for his poor performance around the greens. Perhaps he should have spent a few more minutes at the chipping area, rather than going straight from the range to the tee.

Even at significantly less than 100 percent, Woods was still able to average 300 yards a pop in his rehab start, but he was characteristically erratic with the big stick (57 percent). At Congressional, that meant slashing out of thick rough. At Hoylake, that’ll mean taking a machete to knee-high rough.

Though Woods has made a career out of proving people wrong, this back issue has already been different than previous injuries. The Open likely will be just another step in a long journey back.


By WILL GRAY

While I realize that Tiger is not Phil, and Phil is not Tiger … haven’t we just been through this exercise? Didn’t we spend the better part of the spring trying to figure out when Mickelson would get it in gear for the U.S. Open, only to watch him ultimately not factor at Pinehurst?

Tiger is still a great player when at his best, but he’s far from that right now and likely won’t find the answer in a fortnight. When he won at Hoylake in 2006, he was in complete control of his game from tee to green. Just days ago, he was a man beaten up by a difficult golf course, one whose swing appeared rusty and whose short game was nowhere to be seen.

Tiger still has time to salvage this season, and the two-week stretch of Firestone and Valhalla next month certainly holds promise. But any expectation that he will contend or even win at Hoylake is optimistic at best.


By REX HOGGARD

There was little to be gleaned from Tiger Woods’ short work week at the Quicken Loans National that would suggest the former world No. 1 will be game ready when he tees it up next at the Open Championship.

He missed fairways (16 of 28), he missed greens (20 of 36) and he missed every putt that mattered (61 putts for two rounds).

But those who would contend that Woods’ 36-hole rehab start at Congressional is a sign of things to come at Royal Liverpool haven’t been paying attention.

With a limited window to recover from back surgery on March 31, Woods returned four weeks earlier than he expected and was pleased, not with his game but with his health.

There were no spasms or soreness after two hot days in the nation’s capital and now he has two weeks to work on the things that failed him at the Quicken Loans National, particularly his short game.

For a healthy Woods, two weeks is an eternity. It’s how he used to prepare for majors when he was winning them at an alarming clip, and it’s why he can right the ship before shipping out to Hoylake.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


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.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.