Woods hobbles into the offseason and the unknown

By Jason SobelAugust 9, 2014, 1:06 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tiger Woods gingerly limped up a hill to the 13th green Friday afternoon, an 8-foot birdie putt awaiting him. Here, even at 7 over for the tournament, even incapacitated by a lingering back injury, the gallery swelled around him, showering him with cheers.

These cries of support were different than years ago, when throaty outbursts longing for dominance would create a frenzied atmosphere. Instead, these were encouraging requests, like enthusiastic parents trying to boost a forlorn little league team.

As Woods strained to read the putt, the gallery grew silent. A lone voice pierced the humid late-afternoon air.

“Come on, Tiger!” it pleaded. “For old time’s sake!”

For old time’s sake! That could have been Woods’ rallying cry throughout the season, a rallying cry that was never answered.

Symbolic of everything that has gone wrong for him, he missed the birdie attempt.

After five more inconsequential holes, he shuffled toward the Valhalla clubhouse, still saddled with all of the doubt that shrouded his performance throughout the year, but now at least carrying some finality along with it.

This is where Woods’ season unceremoniously came to a close, whether he’ll admit it or not.

“I don’t know,” he answered three times during a brief five-minute interview session after a second straight 3-over 74 left him on the wrong side of the PGA Championship cut line.

In regard to when he’ll play again: “I don’t know.”

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In regard to what he’ll tell U.S. captain Tom Watson about competing in the Ryder Cup: “I don’t know.”

In regard to whether he came back too soon: “I don’t know.”

In terms of Woods’ unending pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major championship victory record and Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour victory mark, this will forever be remembered as a lost season.

He won’t tee it up at next week’s Wyndham Championship and failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which means the next time we see him is anybody’s guess. The Ryder Cup? He’d need a call from Watson. Something called Americas Golf Cup, a two-man event in Argentina in late October? Don’t laugh; he’s signed up. Not until next year, giving him time to rest his injuries? In the words of Woods, “I don’t know.”

What we do know is that this was the worst year of his career. Worse than the scandal-riddled season of 2010. Worse than its delayed aftermath of 2011.

Woods played a total of seven PGA Tour-sanctioned events, withdrawing twice, missing two cuts and finishing no better than 25th place. For a man who’s earned more than $100,000,000, he cashed a comparably paltry $108,275. That’s less than he’s made in 176 individual tournaments throughout his career.

Following his round on Friday, he fluctuated between speaking about the past and the future.

On the past - his miserable season, the months lost because of back surgery, the unsuccessful return – Woods was resigned to disappointment: “I tried as hard as I could … no doubt it was sore … just had to play through it … I'm not exactly a non‑stubborn person.”

On the future – his impending schedule, what he needs to do to get healthy, how this impacts him long-term – he painted an optimistic picture: “I need to get physically stronger … hoping as fast as I can … we'll see from there.”

Maybe not any of the supporters swelling his gallery on Friday afternoon, but some observers have proclaimed that Woods is done. They’ve already stated that at the age of 38, and wrought with injuries, he is not only done dominating but done winning.

Only time will prove those observers right or wrong, but there’s no denying this was a different Tiger who hobbled into the offseason and, yes, into the unknown.

Like all mortals – and Woods showed once again this year that, even in golf terms, he is indeed mortal – he is undergoing the eventual ravages of age. It happened to the most legendary legends of each generation in this game. It’s happened to every one of the seemingly ageless wonders who played other sports.

Woods understands that. Even while boasting long ago that he wanted to break Jack’s record and sail past Slammin’ Sam, he never considered himself immortal. He’s always known that a demise would happen at some point.

“I felt old a long time ago,” he said Friday when asked if this latest struggle made him feel old.

Those words offered a brief window of reflection, a quick bit of contemplation from a man who doesn’t often provide such insight.

As for the rest of the future, it all remains in doubt. His season is over, we know that much. But as far as the Ryder Cup and when he’ll play again and how he’ll return, Woods could only submit an honest appraisal of what’s to come.

“I don’t know.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.