In Sickness and In Health

By John HawkinsApril 27, 2011, 6:22 pm

He has missed tournaments in every year but one since 2005. Not just because of recurring knee problems, but the death of his father (2006) and the personal issues that altered the way so many people look at Tiger Woods. Even while battling through the worst stretch of his career, however, he has remained the most noticeable and compelling golfer on earth. Plenty of others have shot lower scores over the last 18 months. Nobody has come close to commanding the same amount of attention.

The game desperately needs Woods, preferably the one who hoists trophies on a regular basis, but that guy hasn’t surfaced since late 2009, and now it appears we’ll have to suffice without the flawed version as well. No question, the competitive element suffers without him around, but then, we’ve grown accustomed to Tiger’s absences, which takes us to the latest malfunctions of his left leg.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open in 2008 with a bum knee. (Getty Images)

Maybe he’ll only miss next week’s gathering at Quail Hollow. Maybe he’ll be out longer. One thing is certain: When a particular part of an athlete’s body continues to break down, there is no such thing as a minor injury. The Man Upstairs only gives a man so many golf swings – we’re talking about a guy who was hitting balls on national television at the age of 2.

There were a few smirks in the newsroom yesterday regarding the timing of Woods’ latest trip to the disabled list. Quail Hollow is a place where he has won before, but his performance there last year, when he missed the cut by several miles and looked inept for most of his Friday back nine, might leave some to believe he’s not interested in going back anytime soon. From there, Woods would head straight to The Players Championship, perhaps his least favorite event of the 15 or 16 that remain on his schedule.

Again, Tiger is a past champion. Again, his play at TPC Sawgrass in recent years has been below his standards. To those who believe Sir Eldrick picked a convenient time to feel a twinge in his knee, I would point out that he hasn’t played well enough anywhere since the fire hydrant to feel comfortable skipping tournaments. He needs to play. He needs to keep score against premium competition to find his way back from the morass he’s been in, and nobody knows this better than Woods himself.

Besides, if Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy can skip The Players, why would the dude with fourteen majors feel so obligated? Still, my sense is that Woods won’t return until the Memorial in about a month. Surely, he recalls the problems that arose when he pushed his knee rehab too hard in 2008, which led to his gimpy-legged heroics at the U.S. Open and 8 1/2 months on the sidelines. It’s understandable that he would be overly cautious about playing if his knee wasn’t functioning at full strength.

The question isn’t whether he’s hurt, but how severely, and whether it will affect him at the year’s final three majors. Given how he’s sprayed the ball all over the park throughout his not-quite-airborne comeback, maybe Woods should consider playing with that soft cast/boot on his bum leg. Anything to find the fairway. Anything to get back on track.

At the beginning of the year, I called 2011 the most important season of Tiger’s remarkable career, which wasn’t exactly a blind leap – his attempts to reclaim the form that made him the most dominant golfer of all-time never came to fruition. Here we are, four months later, and nothing has changed. Woods has continued to struggle, amplifying doubts about his chances of breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major titles, and 2011 is still a big, big deal. This latest health issue may mean nothing, or it may serve as another point of reference on golf’s most infamous fall from greatness.

In good and in bad, you never really know with Tiger Woods. And that’s why we can’t stop wondering.

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.