There is More Than Tiger

By John HawkinsMarch 23, 2010, 9:49 pm
When my wife asked what I’d be writing about this week, I gave her the standard, two-word reply (“dunno yet”), which isn’t to say she asks very often. This time, however, she had a suggestion. “You should do something on [Jim] Furyk,” she offered, an interesting proposal from someone who makes a beeline for the same way some of us dive at our morning coffee.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk's win in Tampa was overshadowed by Tiger Woods. (Getty Images)
It got me thinking. If someone who eats tabloid journalism for breakfast is getting tired of the Tiger Woods saga, what about the millions of folks who still think of him as a 14-time major champion? The last two PGA Tour events have been won by name-brand players (Ernie Els, Jim Furyk) who were in serious need of a victory to revitalize their careers. Tigergate dumped a giant pile of buzzkill on both Ws, first with the announcement that he’d return at the Masters, then by agreeing to a pair of five-minute interviews, one of which went to Golf Channel.

In the mainstream-sports universe, the triumphs of Els and Furyk basically vaporized before the trophy ceremonies were over. America’s infatuation with Woods’ adulterous dalliances isn’t the media’s fault, nor could one characterize it as all that bizarre. A lot of people will tell you they’re all Tigered out and have been for a while, but there they are at the water cooler, discussing the latest twist in a mysterious drama that has moved at a maddeningly slow pace, fueled outrageous levels of speculation and grown exponentially because it appeals to those who don’t care about golf.

It is a massive story whether you like it or not, the sheer size of it dwarfing everything that happens inside the ropes, which is both sad and unhealthy. Woods’ dominance as a golfer might have driven the game’s popularity, but it came with a dangerous downside – an alarming shortage of transcendent interest in the non-Tiger product. Golf is a niche sport to begin with. Without its best player, it becomes a struggling niche, and when that same guy is reeling in all the headlines without hitting a shot, you begin to realize the competitive element is doing very little to grab the public’s attention.

Woods will return for the Masters and TV ratings will go through the roof, and for five or six days, golf will thrive in the backdraft of Tiger’s comeback. It’s a sucker pin if one ever existed. Woods probably won’t be seen again until the Players, then perhaps six weeks later at the U.S. Open, and for lengthy periods between his appearances, the PGA Tour will fight to remain somewhat relevant.

There was a point earlier this season when Phil Mickelson was supposed to help us forget all about the fire hydrant and its intense reverberations. Philly Mick’s 2010 debut at Torrey Pines didn’t go as planned, however, and in five starts, his best finish is a tie for eighth. Nobody else moves the needle, not to the point where it will land a Honda Classic or even a World Golf Championship on SportsCenter before the first commercial break.

Els? Nice guy, 61 victories worldwide, including three major titles, and by virtue of his playing the best final round on the Tour this year to win at Doral, he became a really good story for the masses – the father of an autistic child who struggled after his return from knee surgery and has, more than anyone, had his career aspirations compromised by Woods’ greatness.

I wrote about Els the following day for this Web site, but a couple of hours before its schedule Tuesday posting, word of Woods’ plan to return at Augusta National surfaced. I immediately called my editor and asked him if he needed me to rewrite. He was good enough to let me make the call, and after a short deliberation, I told him I wanted the Els piece to run. It was about golf, about a deserved champion of a big tournament, and besides, there would be plenty of others who would weigh in on the Mother of all Comebacks.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

My guess is, the Els story didn’t get nearly as many hits as the latest on Tigergate. I’m cool with that, although I definitely wish that wasn’t the case.

Furyk? Another nice guy, 14 victories on Tour, one of the most down-to-earth, “normal” dudes out there. He’s also one of the most consistent players of his generation, but Furyk’s triumph at Innisbrook last Sunday was his first since the summer of 2007. Right around the same time he was tapping in for a bogey to defeat K.J. Choi by a stroke, Woods was being seen on two networks taking questions for the first time since he smashed up his life Thanksgiving night.

Since he’s clearly in a blame-me mode these days, I suppose we could find Tiger at fault for monopolizing golf’s spotlight for the last four months. Just as the world’s best golfer should have thought twice about his illicit behavior, there are a lot of Tour pros he made wealthy who should have started beating him a long time ago.
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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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.