Billion-Dollar Question

By Jason SobelJuly 5, 2011, 8:07 pm

If you’re surprised by Tuesday’s announcement that Tiger Woods will miss next week’s Open Championship due to lingering injuries, you’re likely surprised by other recent occurrences, too.

Sunrise every morning. Traffic at rush hour. Water in the ocean.

All of ‘em are about as shocking as Woods making his most recent declaration.

It was only a week ago when the 14-time major champion maintained during a press conference that there is “no timetable” for his return. Woods often keeps the public in the dark when discussing his injuries, his schedule and, well, just about everything else, but he just may have been telling the truth here.

Which leads to the million-dollar – or based on his earnings, maybe billion-dollar – question: When will he return to competitive golf?

I can safely report that I absolutely, positively have no idea.

But I don’t feel bad about it, because I’m not alone. You, dear reader, don’t know when he’s coming back, either. Nor do my colleagues in the golf media. Or Woods’ fellow players. Or his doctors.

Or Tiger himself.

That’s right. Woods isn’t saying when he’ll return for one simple reason. Like the rest of us, he, too, has no idea.

That will be considered bad news to those who wish to see the world’s 17th ranked player return sooner rather than later, but really, it should be viewed in a more positive light. Instead of rushing back to action as he’s done in the past – including nine holes before withdrawing at The Players Championship two months ago, a move which he claims set back the recovery process – Woods now maintains that he will wait until he’s fully prepared to compete once again.

“I am only going to come back when I'm 100 percent ready,” he said through a statement on his personal website. “I do not want to risk further injury. That's different for me, but I'm being smarter this time. I'm very disappointed and want to express my regrets to the British Open fans.'

Of course, we can debate what the translation of “100 percent ready” really signifies. Does that mean he won’t play until the leg injuries are fully healed? Or does it mean he won’t play until he is mentally prepared to compete with such injuries?

Truth be told, no professional athlete is ever really “100 percent” – and yes, that includes golfers. Walk the practice range at any PGA Tour event and you’ll find players with every sort of ailment imaginable, often playing through pain.

If Woods is indeed waiting until he is 100 percent healthy, it may be a long wait. Earlier this year, when asked the last time he wasn’t hampered by an injury, he intimated, “It was about six years ago, to be honest, so it's been a while. I've been hurt quite a bit over that period of time.”

And so we’re left with only speculation as to when we will see Woods on the golf course once again.

The next tournament on his usual schedule is the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational four weeks from now. Though he finished in a share of 78th place in an 80-player field last year at Firestone, it’s a course on which he’s very comfortable, having won the event seven times since 1999.

It would be a logical place to return, considering that success rate and the event’s placement on the schedule, directly preceding the PGA Championship.

If he’s still not “100 percent ready” to play in Akron, but can give it a go one week later at Atlanta Athletic Club, it wouldn’t be a precedent-setting move. Three years ago, Woods took two months off prior to a major, only to win the U.S. Open; last year, he ended his self-imposed leave of absence at the Masters, finishing in a share of fourth place.

Should Woods not come back at either the Bridgestone or PGA, though, all bets are off as to when we may see him swing a golf club.

He likely won’t be eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs, as he currently sits in 116th place on the points list. He won’t play any Fall Finish events, because, well, he never does. And then there is such overseas tournaments as the HSBC Champions in China.

The smart money might be on the Chevron World Challenge, which not-so-coincidentally counts Woods as host, though he would have to remain inside the world’s top 50 in order to gain a sponsor’s exemption – something that shouldn’t necessarily be considered a given right now.

It may be a long time before Woods is playing competitive golf or it may not be very long at all. What we do know is that his return is still an unknown – not just for us, but for him, as well. If we are to believe what he says, it won’t happen until he is finally “100 percent ready.”

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.