After Further Review: Injuries could plague Woods

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Tiger Woods' back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic, the finish that tripped up Rory McIlroy and several others at PGA National and favorites for the Masters.


Here’s what we know about Tiger Woods’ withdrawal because of a back injury on Sunday: He can’t blame it on the hotel bed this time. Other than that, everything else is open to interpretation.

Leaving his hometown Honda Classic with five holes to play, I instantly recalled an interview room back-and-forth that I had with Woods prior to last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship. At the time, I asked him if he was worried about the long-term effects of a lingering back injury. After all, he was still receiving daily treatments and was just days removed from gutting out a runner-up result at The Barclays after suffering a similar injury.

He stared me down and offered a one-word answer: “No.”

He then elaborated, but I still didn’t believe him. Anyone who’s ever felt a back tweak has worried about its aftereffects. When that anyone is a man chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major record, there isn’t a chance his real answer could have been no.

After he walked off the course Sunday, he gave a few quick comments to his personal media liaison, but didn’t stick around for questions from the press. When he finally does, I’d like to ask him again – six months after the last time I asked him – whether he’s worried about the long-term effects of a lingering back injury.  Jason Sobel


In case we had forgotten, Sunday’s final round at PGA National served to reiterate that golf is, at times, a rather humbling game. Over the last two hours of the Honda Classic, no shortage of players appeared in position to potentially win, only to backpedal one after the other. Chips were flubbed, par putts missed and balls appeared to have a magnetic draw to the various water hazards on the Champion Course. All four of the playoff participants made it to extra holes despite shooting 2-over 37 or worse on the back nine.

More often than not, these guys make it look easy. Two-shot leads through 54 holes tend to become two- (or three-) shot victories. Every now and then, though, the game with which most amateurs are familiar plays out live on television among even the best players in the world.  Will Gray


With the Masters a little more than a month away, Bubba Watson and Jason Day look like they ought to be the favorites.

With all the tight-throated failure that transpired at the end of the Honda Classic Sunday, Watson's 64-64 weekend finish at the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago looks even more impressive. It wasn't just the winning there. It was seeing Watson driving the ball so well and hitting the draws and fades and towering iron shots required at Augusta National.

Day looked equally sharp mowing down everyone who lined up against him at the Match Play Championship last week.

Two months into the new year, Tiger Woods looks lost or maybe just hurt. Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson are still searching for form. Rory McIlroy is searching for better Sundays. The clock is ticking for all of them with the year's first major swiftly approaching.  Randall Mell


Despite a wraparound schedule that has made the PGA Tour’s once anemic offseason non-existent and a West Coast swing that, at least in theory, should be stronger than ever, the circuit’s unofficial opening day has set up shop in South Florida. Last week, before he blazed a trail to the weekend at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Graeme McDowell acknowledged as much. “I was really looking at next Thursday (at the Honda Classic) as the beginning of my season,” he said. This week’s Honda Classic had seven of the top 10 players in the world and a leaderboard to match. Officially we may be 15 events into the 2014-15 schedule, but Sunday felt like the real beginning.  Rex Hoggard

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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.”

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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. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”