Even with a lead, Woods no longer intimidates

By John HawkinsJanuary 29, 2012, 10:18 pm

When the cameraman moved in close for the obligatory post-round interview, you could really see the age. Tiger Woods looks five years older than he did two years ago, as if his complicated life has forced Father Time to pick up the pace. Fire hydrants and failed marriages can shorten a man’s youth and rob him of his smile, but so can losing, which takes us back to the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but Robert Rock? The Englishman’s victory while playing in the final group with Woods provided additional evidence: the Dude in the Red Shirt isn’t the same intimidating beast he once was on any given Sunday. As invincible as Tiger looked in firing a third-round 66, there were several others who had moved to the top of the leaderboard with similar scores. A day later, with the game on the line, Woods looked a lot like any other tour pro.

I have downplayed the theory that Eldrick Almighty no longer scares his opponents into competitive submission, but Abu Dhabi has me second-guessing myself. Rock looked utterly unfazed during his battle with the 14-time major champion. If his body language wasn’t quite as aggressive as that of Y.E. Yang, who knocked off Woods at the 2009 PGA, the final result and how it came about were very much the same.

Neither was a bloodbath and neither was a shootout – Rock and Yang both shot 70 to claim their crown. Tiger helped Yang more with a closing 75, but he failed to make a birdie on the final nine against Rock and trailed the rest of the way after bogeys at the third and fourth. Woods had three hours to catch a guy who would shoot even par on the back. Not only did he come up short, he wound up T-3.

My anti-intimidation philosophy prior to Sunday was based on mathematics and probability. Woods’ success at holding 54-hole leads over the years was astonishing, but sooner or later, he’d be beaten – roughly half of all third-rounder leaders on the PGA Tour go on to win. Tiger had done it 14 consecutive times at the majors, meaning he’d demolished the odds, so one could see how Yang’s triumph was bound to happen.

What couldn’t be seen (or measured) was the effect. Heath Slocum outlasted Woods and Steve Stricker in Tiger’s very next start, the Barclays. Although none of the three led after 54 holes and Slocum was paired with Stricker in the group behind Woods, Slocum’s composure down the stretch left some thinking Eldrick’s vest was no longer bulletproof.

Enter the hydrant and more than two years out of the real Sunday heat. Woods did perform nicely to beat K.J. Choi last month at the Chevron, but unofficial events with 18-man fields are what they are. As Rock proved, the Chevron wasn’t an omen, but that doesn’t make it an aberration, either. At least not yet.

Overall, Tiger made significant progress in Abu Dhabi. He swung the club wonderfully for most of the week and claimed a share of the lead with another superb Saturday. The fact that Rock beat him was just as much a product of Rock’s coping with the pressure as it was Woods’ inability to hit greens or make putts. Yes, Woods parked his final two drives in the left rough and hit a rather squirmy fairway wood from an awkward lie on the 18th, but most of the doubts about his return to form focused on his swing, not his skill and mental toughness down the stretch.

Greatness breeds the highest of standards, and to many who consider Woods the greatest they’ve ever seen, their perspective is forever rooted in his decade-plus of dominance. So guys like Robert Rock no longer lie awake on Saturday night suffering from a severe case of Red Shirt Insomnia. Abu Dhabi was a step forward, but Woods still hasn’t done anything to leave them tossing and turning, either.

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: