Major confusion

By Jason SobelSeptember 16, 2011, 9:41 pm

LEMONT, Ill. – The year was 1990. Titanium head drivers were all the rage, Jack Nicklaus debuted on the Senior Tour, governing bodies settled on a standardized golf ball and a young whippersnapper named Phil Mickelson was cleaning up on the amateur circuit.

It was also the year when the PGA Tour first introduced its Player of the Year award.

Beverage of your choice at the local 19th hole if you can name the inaugural winner of that honor.

No? Got nothing?

It was none other than Wayne Levi, who won four tournaments that year to claim the hardware, despite only two other top-25 finishes for the entire season.

Such was life back in the olden days, where no singular dominant player existed and it was up to someone to separate himself from a pack of fellow talented professionals.

Sound familiar?

For the second straight year – not coincidentally, ever since Tiger Woods’ SUV crashed into a fire hydrant – there is no clear-cut winner of this prestigious award with a tournament-and-a-half remaining in the regular season.

Webb Simpson is the current favorite, thanks to two wins in his last three starts and two other runner-up finishes so far. But five other players have matched his multiple-victory mark, including rookie Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship.

If there’s a sense of déjà vu, it’s because this is virtually the same exact scenario as last year, when Jim Furyk claimed the season-ending Tour Championship for his third title to not only clinch the FedEx Cup, but the POY award, as well.

And so this year’s race remains wide open, which leads to this question of the day: Why not Mark Wilson?

The veteran pro has enjoyed a very Levi-like season, having won two of his first three starts – at the Sony Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open – but with only two top-10 results and no serious title contentions in his ensuing 20 appearances.

Until now.

Thanks to opening rounds of 65-66 at the BMW Championship, Wilson finds himself in position to break the logjam atop the PGA Tour victory table, tied for the lead at Cog Hill entering the weekend.

“That would put me with the most wins of anybody,” he said after the round, “and then going into East Lake if I can get another one there, I think I'd have a good argument.”

When told that sounds like a lot of ifs, Wilson responded, “Should I say when? The game is fickle, you never know. I've played great so far. There's a lot of great players out here, but I feel like I'm playing very close to the same form I had when I started the year out. My mind is in a better place, and I'm just kind of accepting the results; whatever happens, happens. But yeah, I would definitely put myself in there. Certainly not right now, but I need at least one more win, two more wins to probably be in that discussion.”

Don’t think it can’t happen.

Despite only two wins in his first 236 starts on the PGA Tour, Wilson has proven this year that he has goods to hold up in the final-round heat. Needing only a par on the final hole at Waialae, he made birdie to clinch the victory; a few weeks later, he outlasted Jason Dufner in a Monday playoff in Phoenix to win again.

Of course, there’s comfort and there’s comfort. No player ever feels complete ease under the glare of the spotlight, but if Wilson is to ever enjoy anything close to that feeling, it would be here at his de facto home course, not far from his place of residence.

“I don't feel like I've played it a ton, but just enough that I don't really have to look at the yardage book too much,” he said. “But yeah, I know how to get here in the morning, and it just is very simple. Yeah, I know if there's construction there or a hold-up on the bridge I know another way to go. So yeah, I feel very comfortable. Probably the most of any tournament during the year.”

Besides, there’s no pressure here. You want pressure? Try being a Green Bay Packers fan while living in the heart of Chicago Bears country – which is exactly what Wilson is right now.

That alone should garner some kind of award, but for now he’ll be content to battle for the Player of the Year title. Like he said, he isn’t in that discussion right now, but two more great rounds on this course could solidify his place in that debate.

Wilson certainly wouldn’t be the most famous nor popular player to ever win the postseason hardware, but his name on the trophy would hearken back to the days when it was first introduced.

As if he needed any more karma on his side, there’s this little tidbit, too: When Levi claimed the first-ever POY award, he was helped by winning this very tournament, too.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving

Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

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Article: Woods back to making full swings

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Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

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Woods out and about in 2017

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm