Players react to Woods announcement

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2009, 11:37 pm
Golf Channel’s Inga Hammond roamed the driving range at the Shark Shootout before the second round on Saturday morning getting reaction to the news that Tiger Woods is taking an “indefinite break” from golf to address personal issues in his life.

Here are some of the things players had to say:

Steve Stricker

“Who am I to say, but I think it’s a good move on his part to try to get his family organized and get that going. That should be his first priority. Golf is always going to be there. He’ll always be welcome out here on Tour, and we will miss him while he’s gone, but hopefully he gets everything taken care of at home ...

“We will feel the impact, no doubt. There is definitely a difference when he’s at an event and when he’s not at an event. We’ll manage, though. There are a lot of other great players in this game and a lot of other great storylines, but we will definitely miss him ...

“I’m hoping for the best for him. It’s sad to see what they’ve been going through the last couple weeks ... The bottom line is we need him out here, but we need him out here mentally right and happy for everybody to make it work. Hopefully, it all works out.”

Mark Calcavecchia

“I was thinking about his schedule, and I really didn’t think he was gong to show up at Torrey Pines, or anything soon. Indefinitely? How long does that mean? I don’t know. I’m a fan of his just like everyone else. He definitely needs to take time, and I think he’s doing the right thing, take time and get things straight with Elin and his family and just come back whenever he’s ready ...

“Obviously, it was a tough situation to try to handle, and he didn’t know how to do it and his people who work for him didn’t really know how to do it. I think they are on the right track ...

“I think enough is enough. It’s been a couple weeks, and now let him be, and let him work on the things he needs to work on ...

“I’m a big fan of his, a friend of his, and I miss him. I love watching him play like everyone else. The good news for the rest of us is it’s going to be a lot easier to win tournaments without Tiger playing. But we need him out here. What he’s done for our Tour and golf over the last 13 year is unparalleled, really. Whenever he comes back, hopefully it’s smooth sailing and he’ll be better than ever.”

Brad Faxon

“There is so much speculation about what’s going on in his world and obviously there’s such a huge trickle-down effect to what he does and how everything goes forward. Hopefully, he takes care of what he needs to take care of ...

“It would be hard for me to believe he could stay away for a year, but he has some work to do, I guess, to fix some stuff. We are all speculating where it’s going ...

“I think the statement was a good statement. You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. If the rumors are true, it’s going to be hard to come back and make everything work, but it’s been done before and things are quickly forgotten in this world, that’s for sure ...

“It’s unfortunate, because we pretty much have had no blemishes, really. Every once in a while, there is a little thing that’s no big deal. This has affected a lot of people in the world. It’s on the front page of the New York Post and US [Weekly] Magazine. We’ve never really had anyone transcend to Hollywood like Tiger.”

Nick Price

“He’s got a lot of wounds to heal. I think it will be a good thing for him to consolidate his time with his family and just try to start anew from here ...

“Golf will miss him, there’s no doubt about it, over the last 10, 12 years. He’s been the focus of the game. The fact he did not win a major championship was a surprise to most of us. Hopefully, he will come back, get his house in order and start playing golf the way we know Tiger can play golf ...

“I think once he gets his mind focused again, and he gets back totally into this, it may be something that fires him up even more. We all want to see him beat Jack’s record. Probably the only one who doesn’t want to see him break Jack’s record is Jack. This may make him even more focused and a better person.”

J.B. Holmes

“I think it’s a good decision for him to get his family back in order. It’s going to be a big loss for golf, but it’s his decision and I wish the best for him and hope everything works out ...

“It’s different from last time [when he was out with a knee injury]. We don’t know when he’s coming back. With the knee we had an idea, but you just never know. I wish him the best and hope everything works out for him.”

Dustin Johnson

“The first thought is what’s it going to do to our Tour. He’s the best player in the world. He’s been golf’s idol. It’s sad not being able to see him play. Obviously, it’s best for him and his family. My prayers go out to him and his family and hopefully he comes out as soon as possible ...

“We don’t know how long he’s going to be out. We don’t quite know what it means. But obviously he’s not going to be there at the start of the season. Hopefully, things work out well enough that maybe he can be back halfway through the season or maybe even before then.”

Jeff Sluman

“It’s obviously his decision. Whatever he decides, I’m all for him. We just want him to be ready when he comes out. More importantly, golf is not even important right now in his life. I just wish him the best with his family situation, with Elin and the kids, and I hope it works out the best way it can possibly work out ...

“If it’s the right move for him, it’s really none of our business. It’s the way I look at it. Only he knows what’s going on within his family circle. If he needs to take time off, I’m 100 percent for it.”

Boo Weekley

“I’m proud of him. I think it’s a good thing he is going to take the time and spend it with his family and try to get his life together. That’s what you need to take care of first . . .

“Tiger is a big asset to the Tour. He brings a lot of different characters and a lot of different sponsors to help us make the money we’ve made, and we are happy to have him out here with us ...

“The Tour isn’t all about Tiger. There are 200, 300 guys out here playing to make a living like he did. It ain’t just about one player. He ain’t bigger than the game. Unfortunately, he won’t be with us to make things run a little smoother, but I think we can survive without him. We have in the past, and we look forward to his return when he does come back out.”

Graeme McDowell

“There was all the speculation without Tiger saying much, so it was good to hear him come out and give a bit of closure. Unfortunately, it will be a bit of a blow to have him out. How long is it going to be? Is it going to be three months? Is it going to be six months? Or is it going to be more? So everyone of the players will be looking forward to him coming back. Tournaments are going to be easier without him in the field, obviously, but we certainly need him in the field. He gives events such a big boost. We hope he gets things sorted out and comes around quick. Golf needs him ...

“At a time when the world is having a tough time economically, we don’t need any more blows to our sport. With Tiger out, it’s definitely going to have an impact. I hope he can come back quick and give the game a big boost again. There are plenty of young players, not taking over for him, but certainly, coming in to give the game a huge boost. I think the game’s never been healthier, but we certainly need him back.

Chris DiMarco

“Sad for the tour a little bit, whenever you take the biggest name out, the biggest draw out ... Tiger’s got to take care of Tiger and Elin and his family and that’s always No. 1. We’ll support him, and we are all behind him. We just wish him the best. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1