As the World Turns

By Jason SobelJuly 21, 2011, 12:03 am

I believe Tiger Woods when he continually maintains that he doesn’t know when he will return to competitive golf. I trust him when he contends that he wants to ensure his injuries are 100 percent healed before he next tees it up.

I don’t, however, think for a second that Woods fired longtime caddie Steve Williams recently without already having a plan in place for the future.

While the entire world has been left to guess as to the identity of Tiger’s new looper once he comes back, there’s little doubt that the world’s 20th-ranked player could be sitting at home and twiddling his thumbs, waiting for the offers to start rolling in.

Sorry, caddie-wannabes. There will be no posting for this job. There will be no open auditions on the range at Isleworth. There will be no reality television series during which Woods hands out roses to potential candidates, like those guys on “The Bachelor.”

Woods doesn’t make knee-jerk decisions in his professional life and there’s no doubt this one had a strategic thought process behind it.

Despite serving as his right-hand man for more than a dozen years and a baker’s dozen worth of major championship titles, Williams apparently angered his employer by not only temporarily caddying for Adam Scott beginning at the U.S. Open, but remaining on his bag for the ensuing AT&T National, as well.

The faux pas – even with permission from the boss – was likely viewed as Williams overstepping his boundary, but it’s difficult to believe that Woods would come to this decision without first hatching a contingency plan. He isn’t the type of guy to pay a day rate to a willing high school kid in the parking lot each time he pulls into a PGA Tour event.

And so now, the names are dropping, one by one, fueled by rumors and speculation.

One oddsmaking website shows Billy Foster as the early favorite. This was a much-rumored move a half-decade ago when Foster was on the bag for a struggling Darren Clarke, but it’s hard to believe he would leave world No. 2 Lee Westwood for a guy who isn’t even playing right now.

Next on that list is Tiger’s original bagman, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, but he’s in the same boat, already caddying for Jim Furyk. Besides, a switch back to Fluff would be an admission of a poor decision on Woods’ part, something which doesn’t happen very often, if at all.

Joe LaCava would have been an intriguing name a few months ago, but since getting Fred Couples’ blessing to leave for Dustin Johnson’s bag, he’s likely out of the mix. It just doesn’t make sense for a caddie to leave a 27-year-old in his prime who’s coming off a T-2 finish at the Open Championship.

Perhaps, though, much like the Couples-to-Johnson job switch, there’s an older friend of Woods – Mark O’Meara, John Cook or Mark Calcavecchia each come to mind – who would let their buddy “borrow” their man in an act of chivalry.

Two other potential candidates are Ricci Roberts and Tony Navarro, longtime loopers who currently don’t have jobs, having been canned by Ernie Els and Adam Scott, respectively, in recent months. Either of those guys would seem to make sense, but Woods’ decisions aren’t always perfectly sensible.

Another intriguing name is Brett Waldman. The former caddie for Camilo Villegas is currently playing the Nationwide Tour, where he's earned just $1,678 so far this season. When I contacted Waldman and asked if he's been called by Woods, though, he said simply, 'No.'

There’s a rumor that the head of Tiger’s design team, childhood friend Bryon Bell, could replace Williams on the bag, but it’s tough to think he wouldn’t want a professional on the job for what amounts to as much enforcer, traffic cop and Sherpa as caddie.

I’ve always believed that more players should take the route of Jason Day, whose caddie, Colin Swatton, is also his swing instructor. I approached Woods’ coach Sean Foley with such an idea, but he denied any interest, instead maintaining, “The bag is too heavy.”

Instead, we’re left guessing as to whom may be lugging the sticks next time Woods tees it up at a competitive event. That doesn’t mean everyone is guessing, though.

Somewhere, someone is sitting back, watching and reading all of the speculation about the next sidekick for the game’s most prolific player and secretly knows the job is all his.

We’ll soon find out, too – whenever Woods feels like telling us.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'

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

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

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

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing

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'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'

Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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