Promise Not Kept

By John HawkinsFebruary 16, 2011, 9:35 pm
A year ago this week, Tiger Woods returned to public view in the form of a hastily arranged confessional before a room full of close friends and millions of television viewers. His dirty laundry had been hung for all to see, so Woods put on a blazer, looked us in the eye and vowed to change his ways.

On the golf course, things have remained very much the same. Woods’ victory total hasn’t budged, and as he reminded us again last Sunday in Dubai, his competitive deportment leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many. To be fair, Tiger faces a much higher level of scrutiny than other Tour pros. No player is given nearly the same amount of attention during a final-round telecast when he is out of contention, nor does anyone do a poorer job of hiding his displeasure when things aren’t going well. Call it a flammable mix.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods promises to be better behaved on the course during his Feb. 19, 2010 statement. (Getty Images)
No one but Woods would warrant several seconds of camera time while squatting on a green, then turning his head and spitting onto the putting surface, a defiant act by a man whose nature is not wholly compatible with the simplest laws of compliance. Still, it boggles my mind that the incident was picked up by so many media agencies beyond the golf community. Front-page news: Sir Eldrick hocks a loogie.

Having known Woods for the better part of 15 years, having spent considerable time with him on practice ranges and putting greens in addition to a few occasions away from the course, I got to know the guy who wasn’t built for mass consumption. Petulant, definitely a bit sophomoric, but not in a harmful way. Overly sarcastic, exceptionally quick-witted -- Tiger always struck me as the caricature of a man’s man, and if he wasn’t the greatest golfer who ever lived, you might politely describe him as an acquired taste.

I’ve often told those who ask that the Tiger Woods they’ve seen in television ads is a 180-degree departure from the real dude in the red shirt, and for more than a decade, there really weren’t many conflicts. Woods was so good at playing golf and smiling on cue that marketing him as a wholesome, warm-blooded assassin was basically a no-brainer. He sold Buicks, fished off a pier with some unwitting codger and built a foundation that helped hundreds of kids from an educational standpoint.

He did a lot of good, won a lot of trophies, and when he did something bad, there weren’t any cameras around. Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time thinking. If you want to win 19 major titles and stuff every all-time record in your pocket, you have to turn up all the alpha-male dials and leave 'em there. As Springsteen said, 'no retreat, no surrender.' That’s not a gameface, partner. That’s just who I am.

People aren’t ganging up on Woods now because he’s winless since whenever. He got beat up for cussing and tossing clubs when he was hauling in six victories a season, but from the viewpoint of a wide-angle lens, he was a champion without peer, chained to exceedingly high standards, ferocious in his pursuit of excellence and atrocious when it came to controlling his temper. Way back when, Tiger’s conduct was easier to rationalize – you could always point to that great big pile of Ws.

Ain’t no pile anymore. When Woods stepped to that podium on Feb. 19, 2010, I think he really intended to change. I also think he thought he could salvage his marriage, but when that didn’t happen and the victory drought got larger, he realized, perhaps subconsciously, that trying to be Mr. Nice Guy wasn’t working. Better to win golf tournaments and be yourself than to not and not.

So here we are, one year later. Tiger tried to cover up the saliva with his putter, but that didn’t work, either.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.