Thanks for the Memories

By Mercer BaggsNovember 29, 2009, 10:13 pm
This week in Backspin, we focus solely on the Tiger Woods saga, breaking it down report by report.

News reports around 2:30 p.m. ET Friday say Tiger Woods was involved in a one-car crash outside his Isleworth home. They say it happened about 12 hours earlier as he was leaving his house. It is reported Woods’ Cadillac Escalade struck a fire hydrant and then a tree, and he was listed in serious condition.

BackspinUpon changing the channel while leisurely watching the Alabama-Auburn football game, “Tiger in car crash!” was fonted across the TV screen on one of the local Orlando affiliates. My first thought was, “I really, really hope this was a real tiger driving a car.”

Conflicting reports come in saying that Woods was in a “minor” automobile accident, was treated at a local hospital and released, and aside from facial lacerations he was in good health. Police officials say that the officer who listed Woods in serious condition was required to do so since he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. They also say the accident was not alcohol related.

Backspin It was good to hear that Woods was OK, but there were still plenty of questions, namely: What was he doing leaving the house at 2:30 in the morning? Rumors covered cyberspace like a plague of beetles. ‘Ooh, he had a fight with his wife.’ 'Ooh, he's having an affair.' ‘Ooh, he was drunk and there’s a big cover-up.’ ‘Maybe he was just getting formula.’ ‘Maybe he was going to work out.’ My thought: How the hell is Auburn beating Alabama? issues a brief statement saying Woods is OK and there will be no further comment. Reports then surface that Woods’ wife, Elin, used a golf club to break out the back window of his SUV and drag him out of the vehicle. He was in and out of consciousness and there was blood in his mouth. He was transported to a nearby hospital and 12 hours after the accident occurred an official report was released.

Backspin Umm, I’ve seen Elin in person. She's awful pretty and fit as can be, but unless she has the ability to transform into She-Hulk when she’s angry, she’s not dragging a limp, 190-pound body over two rows of seats. Also, when you look at the photos from the crash, the rear window appears intact. The middle windows are down, so maybe she broke the 'back seat' windows. Still, it's hard to get a clear understanding of what happened without hearing from Tiger and/or Elin.

Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor tells media that the couple requested not to be interviewed Friday night, but instead Saturday morning so Tiger could get some rest. Authorities oblige, but when they return the next day they are told by Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, that the couple would not be speaking to them until Sunday.

BackspinGiving the police the Heisman. Intriguing move. By law, Woods isn’t required to give a statement, only his driver’s license, insurance and registration of the SUV. Still, silence always translates to: You have something to hide [even if you don’t]. Don't know where we're headed with all this but it looks like the road to Tabloid Town.

By now, Woods’ story has well exceeded the golf world. National news outlets and tabloid papers have descended upon Windermere, Fla. The notorious publishes photos from the accident. They also “report” a few other items.

BackspinWe’re not about to jump into their muck, but even The Associated Press addressed a story published two days prior to the accident by the National Enquirer, which said Woods had an affair with New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel. Uchitel, who was said to have been in Melbourne with Woods during the Australian Masters, denied the claim. Unfortunately, rumor and innuendo are helping to form a clearer picture of the crash scene than fact. Woods really needs to speak. And have a really good story. reports Uchitel is meeting with publicity hound/lawyer Gloria Allred.

BackspinFive words never before written: It sucks to be Tiger.

Around 2 p.m. ET Sunday, it is reported that Tiger Woods' lawyer told the Florida Highway Patrol that his client will again not be speaking with them as planned, regarding the accident. No reason for the cancellation was given.

BackspinThis is Lucy and Charlie Brown. They keep running the same trick play and I – and the FHP – keep falling for it. Either Tiger's brain trust really knows what they are doing or they're allowing him to make the worst PR move of his life. You gotta believe it's the former since this guy is worth a bazillion dollars to them, but like 'Casablanca II,' it just doesn't seem right.

Police release audio of the 911 call, which was made by the neighbor whose tree Woods hit.

BackspinThe neighbor was a bit frantic, but the audio was too scratchy to be dramatic. It would have been much better if Woods lived next to the Don LaFontaine. And if Don LaFontaine wasn't dead.

Woods releases a statement on his Web site taking full responsibility for the accident. He says he is embarrassed and sore. He says his wife acted 'courageously' and says all the 'malicious rumors' are 'irresponsible.' He also asks people to respect his privacy on the matter.

BackspinWoods is usually in total control of a situation, especially when it comes to his personal life. But this time is very different. When something this public happens to someone so public, privacy isn't granted by simple request.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.