One-on-One With Tiger

By Kelly TilghmanMarch 22, 2010, 2:05 am
WINDERMERE, Fla. – There I was, sitting by myself in a spacious room in a beautiful Isleworth home, combing over the list of questions I had prepared for this highly anticipated one-on-one interview with Tiger Woods. This is his first interview since the night of the accident that sparked what many have called an athlete’s single greatest fall from grace. While our production crew meticulously prepared the stage, I waited alone and deep in thought. Then he walked into the room.

I hadn’t seen Tiger in person since we were together at an EA Sports launch party in September. I had no idea what to expect. When he turned into the room and looked at me, a warm smile came over his face. I was happy to see that. It indicated that he is in a good place. As we put on our microphones, we had a few small conversations. He said he hadn’t been watching much golf. He expressed that he couldn’t wait to get back to the golf course. He said that with vigor and passion. You could tell how much he has missed it. He said he’d been hitting the gym hard. It has always been a sanctuary for this man. He looked trim and incredibly fit. All in all, he seemed in good spirits and he had a gentle look in his eyes. It was not the vicious competitor that could easily look through you at times. This was a man who was in touch with his heart.

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We began the interview with the simple question of how he, who has controlled everything so tightly his entire life, could let things get so out of control. His answer was honest and contrite. It became obvious to me after a few questions about the night of the accident and his marriage that he was determined to protect those details of his private life. But I could also sense that he wanted to share the pain that he’d been feeling for months. Woods wants the world to know that he’s sorry. He is clearly speaking the language of therapy and it is something he’s prepared to embrace for the rest of his life. I asked him if the therapy that he’s received is similar to an Alcoholics Anonymous program and he said it’s exactly like it. He added that he will be in inpatient and outpatient therapy for years to come, maybe forever.

When you cover an athlete for the better part of 15 years, you get to know everything about his appearance. Before the interview started, I couldn’t help but notice a bracelet he was wearing. I asked him about it. He said it was a reminder of Buddhist principle. He first put it on right before he entered 45 days of therapy in late December. He’ll be wearing it at the Masters and likely for the rest of his life.

I did see the old Tiger emerge when we spoke of him getting back to the golf course. He is hungry for competition. Like the gym, the golf course is a sanctuary for him. That will never change. Tiger admitted that he’s nervous about how the galleries will receive him at the Masters but he’s excited about reuniting with his colleagues and soaking up the memories of his wins there in years past. His mental state might be in question when he tees it up at Augusta National, but physically he’s doing all he can do to assure that he’s prepared.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.