Rosaforte: Good chance Tiger returns at Quail Hollow

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 22, 2016, 3:41 pm

Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour may not be too far away afterall.

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte said Friday on “Morning Drive” that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Woods tee it up as soon as the Wells Fargo Championship May 5-8 at Quail Hollow.

It would be Woods’ first start in about nine months. He hasn’t played in Charlotte since 2012.

“Not saying it will, but at the same time, don’t be surprised if it does,” Rosaforte said. “This is the logical choice.”

Mark Steinberg, Woods’ manager said: “Nothing has changed as of now. There is no timetable.”

Woods has been at Sage Valley in South Carolina the past two days speaking to players at the Junior Invitational. Woods and Notah Begay held a clinic for participants on Thursday and Woods was on the first tee Friday as a spectator.

Begay told that Woods is in the “back half of his progression” in his return from back surgery, and that Woods is getting closer to a return to the PGA Tour.

“It's mostly the ball speed and the clubhead speed,” Begay said. “That's a gauge. Every player knows where they should be heading into the season. Everybody else's season started in the fall. We don't know when Tiger Woods' season is going to start, but the physical attributes you would look for are starting to materialize.”

That ball speed, per Begay, is above 170 mph. Woods worked through his bag during his clinic Thursday, shaping the ball with each club, hitting some 2-iron stingers, and even trying out a new driver, which he quickly dismissed.

No matter how good Woods’ TrackMan numbers look, Begay said that practice alone will not be enough. At some point, Woods has to test his back in competition, round after round. It's the only way he'll really know where he stands.

“You have to play tournaments,” Begay said. “You have to put in the reps on the range, probably 300-500 balls a day, and just have to play tournaments. The combination of walking, swinging slightly faster in tournaments, and the stress and all of the focus you need in a tournament week.”

The 40-year-old hasn’t played since Aug. 23 at the Wyndham Championship, where he recorded his best finish of the year, a tie for 10th place. Prior to that, he had missed the cut in three consecutive majors for the first time in his career.

Last September, he underwent a second microdiscectomy and a third procedure to alleviate discomfort in his lower back.

Updates on his recovery have been scarce. When he appeared at his World Challenge event in early December, Woods said that he had “nothing to look forward to” and any other accomplishments in his career would be “gravy.”

Woods skipped the Masters for the second time in three years, but he didn’t announce his intentions until the Friday before the tournament, leading to speculation that he was close to a return but not quite ready.

Ryan Lavner and Nick Menta contributed to this report.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.