Water Cooler Fodder

By John HawkinsSeptember 16, 2010, 8:07 pm

The mathematics lied in 2008, at which point the buzzword/solution became “volatility.”

Despite winning the final two FedEx Cup playoff events that September, Camilo Villegas never had a shot at claiming the overall title, which Vijay Singh had locked up in Boston the week before. It didn’t seem right, didn’t seem fair, but most of all, it didn’t make good business sense. Why lead anyone to believe the Tour Championship was just another well-paid vacation?

So the PGA Tour tweaked its playoff system. Again. More leapfrogging, a lot more 'What Have You Done Out Here Lately,' with virtually no importance placed on what players did in the regular season. Anyone with a clear grasp of the competitive element could see the changes were overreactive and ill-advised, dangerously oblivious to the downside of theoretical possibility. Tiger Woods could win eight events in 16 starts, three of them majors, and have no better a chance of winning the overall crown than, say, Kevin Streelman. Talk about being careful what you wish for. If there are five great players, 25 really good players and 75 OK players, the OKs have the numbers, and therefore the power, to control all legislation not meted by the commissioner’s office.

That, in a half-cracked nutshell, is the problem with pro golf in the modern era. It caters to a bloated, over-compensated middle class – a contingent of guys who live off the fat of the land, excess generated by the superb play of a precious few. You don’t have to sing for your supper anymore. All you have to do is open your mouth.

Steve Stricker, a good man and an outstanding player who never complains about anything, wondered aloud about the balance of the playoff formula last week in Chicago. Stricker shows up at the weak-field tournaments, the ones Tiger never thinks about playing in. He’s a back-to-back winner of the John Deere Classic, which is held the week before the British Open, but here we are in September, and Stricker doesn’t see how that victory in July has any bearing on his position heading to Atlanta.

If you’re Charlie Hoffman, by the way, you owe Tim Finchem a Christmas card.

As for Streelman, the only thing he’s beating is the system. Having finished 102nd in the regular-season standings, Streelman qualified for the playoffs with but a few whiskers to spare and has just one top 40 in the postseason – a tie for third at the Barclays. Here he is, however, No. 29 and East Lake-bound, which translates into all kinds of super-duper bonus perks, most notably, a berth in the 2011 Masters.

Go ahead, ship me off to the funny farm, but I just don’t think a T-3 at Ridgewood should punch your ticket to Augusta National. Not when a victory at one of the Tour’s little-fish events doesn’t even get you a spot on the sidewalk next to Martha Burk. Camp Ponte Vedra wants the Tigers and Phils to play more, then throws out everything they’ve done for eight months so guys like Hoffman can afford a haircut?

Somebody get me a doctor.

Try as it might to get things right, the PGA Tour operates with an innate smugness that can be hard to rationalize when it comes to reaching the American public. The truth? This playoff thing isn’t working. It’s not making a splash – I challenge anyone to prove that more than a few drops of water have left the swimming pool. It’s not working because it’s not built correctly. It’s not built correctly because the wrong people are laying the bricks and hammering the nails.

It’s just four nice tournaments at the end of the summer. There is no connection between the plugged-in sports fan and the purpose of those four events, which makes the concept, at least to this point, an institutional failure. Another billboard for title sponsors, another paycheck for Sammie Softspikes. Another reason to thank Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer for helping to clearly identify golf’s four major championships.

God bless, the doctor has arrived. His diagnosis isn’t grim, but the road to recuperation will take some effort.

– The top-3 finishers on the season-long money (or points) list automatically qualify for the Tour Championship. Never mind how many events they show up for – so what if the big boys don’t play Memphis? Tiger’s absence translates to Omar Uresti’s presence. The little fish have to eat, too.

– If you’re among the top 3, then skip a playoff event, you lose your free pass to Atlanta. That doesn’t mean you’re out – see the next proposal for clarification. Missing a postseason tournament is a bad thing, but it isn’t a felony. Let’s not forget that.

– Only the top 60 make the playoffs to begin with. That number is cut to 20 (including automatic qualifiers) for the Tour Championship. From there, the top 4 receive byes. The other 16 compete for four spots in a 54-hole, stroke-play format.

– Once we’ve determined the eight finalists, they are seeded and bracketed for a match-play showdown. In each match, the higher seed gets to decide whether the match goes 18 or 36 holes – golf’s equivalent of the home-field advantage so crucial in other sports.

I don’t care how much they play for. I don’t care about politics or petty contract clauses. I just want something people will talk about over the water cooler, even if somebody ends up kicking that water cooler to the curb.

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.

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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