Woods to answer questions via Twitter, Facebook

By Jason SobelApril 29, 2012, 3:01 pm

Boy, that Tiger Woods is a swell guy.

He obviously knows how overworked we in the golf media are on a week-in, week-out basis. He undoubtedly understands our difficulties in trying to ask and re-ask new, exciting interview questions in hopes of writing and rewriting new, exciting pieces about him.

(Your sarcasm detector should be beeping feverishly by now...)

And so what has Tiger done for all of the hardworking members of the press focused on his every move? He gave us the day off.

On Monday, Woods will eschew interview questions from the media in advance of his appearance at the Wells Fargo Championship, instead answering Twitter and Facebook queries from fans.

All kidding aside, this is a positive PR move for a guy who desperately needs one -- or a few dozen. It should help get fans more involved on an interpersonal level and will serve as a de facto community outreach program for an adoring public that has largely stood by him during times of personal and professional strife.

It would be an even better idea if Woods chooses to answer more than just softballs. Over the past few years, the media has been criticized for not asking him the “tough questions,” although every time I’ve countered that theory with a query of my own about what constitutes such an inquiry, the resulting response is usually a question that’s been asked many times over already.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what question remain unanswered for a guy who annually leads the PGA Tour in most answers proffered without actually saying anything.

I suppose I’d like to hear him address why, exactly, he acted so petulantly at times during the recent Masters Tournament. I’d like to know whether he believes he should be fined or suspended. I’d even like to hear someone invoke his own words from two years earlier, when he explained, “I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.”

Other than that, there aren’t many lingering issues for Woods to address right now. He certainly isn’t playing the best golf of his career, but he’s only a month removed from winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes, so it’s difficult to pan him for poor performances.

Should fans choose to dredge up the past, they can ask whether he still embraces Buddhism and meditates every day, or whether he’s ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, or what really happened on the night of Thanksgiving in 2009, however there’s less a chance of him answering those questions than of an 18-handicap beating him straight up in match play.

The fact is, Woods and his PR team will be able to handpick which questions they’d like to answer and it’s difficult to imagine they will veer very far from the likes of, “How do you think Stanford will do without Andrew Luck next year?” and more statement-oriented proclamations, such as, “Dude, your new video game rocks!”

Of course, even if Woods decides to answer the so-called “tough questions,” he’ll respond in a way that only he can, by giving indirect, abbreviated responses to legitimate queries. That’s not a knock against him; in fact, his evasiveness is something for which many unrestrained athletes should be striving for.

I once wrote that Tiger handles all questions “as if there's a media coach with a direct line to his inner ear canal, producing answers that are informative without ever revealing too much.” He has a propensity to mow down provocative inquiries like a series of uphill two-foot putts.

It would be terrific to see and hear him answer the fans with a thoughtful, direct approach, but the reality is that we’re more likely to hear an amalgamation of his greatest hits album:

“It is what it is…”

“… more than anything, I’m working on my traj…”

“… I’m trying to peak four times a year…”

“… if you don’t have butterflies on the first tee, then you don’t care enough…”

“… the goal has never changed, I’m here for a W.”

It’s all part of the plan, either premeditated or instinctual. Woods simply won’t allow any information or opinion that he doesn’t want you to know. And since he’s so well versed in the art form of the interview and is rarely taken aback by a single question, he always remains in full control of those responses.

That is one reason why my best advice for anyone interviewing Tiger is to counter many of his answers with a quick follow-up. Asking either “Why?” or “How?” gets him thinking about his response rather than dialing up the automated version and usually produces the most human reaction.

Sadly, that likely won’t be an option for fans when Woods answers their questions on Monday. It’s an innovative move to deal directly with the public and forgo the media and I’m excited to witness the end result. Let’s just hope a few of those “tough questions” get mixed in amongst the softballs.

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm