Woods readies for important two-week stretch

By Ryan LavnerJuly 28, 2014, 6:00 pm

How did Tiger Woods recover from his worst 72-hole finish in a major? By going on vacation with his kids and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn.

“We toured a little bit and even played a little putt-putt, which I won every single time,” he said Monday on a video conference promoting the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship, the FedEx Cup playoff event that benefits his foundation.

Woods also opted for some R&R after he missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National. Cynics will read those remarks and wonder why Woods wasn’t grinding on the range to improve, or assume that his desire to be great has vanished.   

Not so, he says. 

When asked Monday what keeps the competitive juices flowing after all of these years in the spotlight, he replied, “Winning more. I thoroughly enjoy that. That’s why I played from a very young age. … To me the satisfaction of that, being able to prepare and be able to go out there and get it done, it does feel good. I haven’t lost that. I certainly don’t foresee that ever happening.

“I’ve got a little 5-year-old right now (Charlie) that is really pushing me pretty hard. He wants to beat me in everything. That said, I was able to kick his butt in putt-putt. I’ve shown him how to get it done.”

This is an important stretch for Woods, beginning with this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he is the defending champion and an eight-time winner.

The former world No. 1 likely has to average at least a top-3 finish at Firestone and next week at Valhalla just to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was in a similar situation in 2011, after missing nearly three months with various injuries, and he wound up outside the top-125 bubble. 

“Hopefully I can do a little better than I did last time,” he said.

Making matters even more pressing is the Ryder Cup. At No. 70 in points, Woods likely will not qualify for the team automatically, but a few encouraging performances might be enough to convince captain Tom Watson to burn one of his three wild-card picks on him, similar to what Corey Pavin did in 2010.  

“In the end it’s what can you do for your team?” Woods said. “Are you able to contribute?”

That much is still unclear, however, after Woods shot rounds of 69-77-73-75 to finish 69th at the Open Championship – 23 shots behind winner Rory McIlroy. 

A five-time winner and PGA Tour Player of the Year last season, Woods was plagued by a back injury earlier this season, went under the knife March 31, missed two majors and is now all the way down to 10th in the world.

With the consistency of Adam Scott at the top, and the reemergence of three-time major winner Rory McIlroy, many men with a microphone have suggested that there is a new world order, that the so-called Tiger Era is over.

Not surprisingly, Woods isn’t buying that talk.

“Unfortunately I’ve had my share of breakdowns,” he said of his injuries. “I’ve had to rehab and I’ve had to come back. And through all the years I’ve been able to do that.” 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.