Woods playing Pebble: Just business

By Jason SobelJanuary 9, 2012, 8:54 pm

Confirming plenty of anticipation and speculation, Tiger Woods announced Monday that he will make his PGA Tour season debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Score one for the rumor mill.

Score one for everybody else, too. It’s a winning scenario all around. Woods gets another much-needed “rep” that he’s been hinting at since returning from injury last year; the PGA Tour gets to promote its biggest star on its most captivating stage; the television networks get a boost in the post-football doldrums; and golf fans get to watch Tiger in old but familiar surroundings.

Playing at Pebble will afford Woods an opportunity to get a West Coast start under his belt prior to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, while once again competing on one of the game’s most iconic settings.

Let’s not be naïve, though: Like nearly every other career choice Woods makes, this one is a business decision.

On the surface, it seems like a head-scratcher. AT&T dropped Woods as a client on New Year’s Eve in 2009 following his highly publicized personal scandal. At the time, the company released a statement which simply said, 'We are ending our sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods and wish him well in the future.'

While that direct partnership remains dormant, AT&T and Woods continue to forge other relationships. The company is a founding partner of the Tiger Woods Learning Centers in Orange County and Washington D.C. and the title sponsor of Woods’ own PGA Tour event, the eponymous AT&T National.

To his credit, Woods conceded the relationship played a role in the announcement on his website, saying in part, 'AT&T is a great partner to my Foundation, and I'm looking forward to playing in this event.”

Of course, he failed to mention how or why his commitment to the AT&T event at Pebble Beach could ensure renewed interest from the company in his own tournament. It is currently under contract as title sponsor through the 2014 season.

Even if that is part of a wink-wink, nod-nod backroom deal, Woods should hardly be scolded for being opportunistic and scratching a sponsor’s back. Though appearance fees are against PGA Tour regulations, there is so much overlap between players and sponsors that they can help each other in various ways that don’t involve simply handing over a fat paycheck.

If you still believe Tiger’s predominant justification for returning to Pebble is such admirable reasons as nostalgia toward the host venue and improving his tarnished image with fans, you need search no further than his other most recent scheduling decision.

Woods grew up playing junior golf tournaments at Torrey Pines, claimed the Farmers Insurance Open on the course a whopping six times and unforgettably won the 2008 U.S. Open there while playing on one leg.

This year, however, he has decided to forgo playing in the tournament, instead opting to begin his season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, an event he has never before played.

His explanation? 'I've always enjoyed playing in HSBC events around the world,” Woods said, “so I have been interested in including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in my schedule for some time.'

As far as scheduling is concerned, Woods is the ultimate creature of habit. Once a tournament is off his schedule, it’s usually off forever – and he rarely adds a new one. So why the sudden interest in this one? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that HSBC “has been the key supporter of international initiatives for the Tiger Woods Foundation,” according to its website.

That’s right – another business decision.

Consider this neither a compliment nor a criticism. It’s just the way things work. When scheduling his tournament appearances, Woods may take into account such factors as where it falls on the calendar or whether he likes the course, but company sponsorships and partnerships take priority above all else.

That goes for the upcoming AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, too. Tiger’s return to the event is a winning scenario for all involved, but rest assured, it’s not happening simply because he needed more reps.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: