Tiger From Another Perspective
What would your answer be?
Mine is a no-brainer. Id rather be John Rollins.
I use Rollins in this example because hes fresh in our minds given the first round match we all saw at La Costa Resort and Spa. Rollins not only is a member of the worlds best tour, but as a Tour winner hes among the best players out there. And he does it all in relative peace.
Rollins isnt being bombarded each and every day by requests. He isnt under pressure to deliver a spectacular round, with cameras watching his every move. Last I knew Rollins is still striving toward the same goal as Woods. And last I checked Rollins has earned more than $3.5-million in the last two years. Not bad.
Dont get me wrong, everybody dreams of living with the view from the top for perhaps a day or two and I wouldnt mind having that chance. I have a whole lot of respect for Tiger and what he does, and how he handles most things.
That said, if you dont follow my line of thinking, this story Im about to tell just might give you some new perspective.
Jay Williamson is a 37 year-old PGA Tour professional who calls St. Louis, Missouri home. He had his best tour season last year by earning $627,132 and finishing 101st on the money list. He finished in the top 125 for the fourth consecutive year.
You want a telling stat about Jay? He finished fourth on Tour in 2003 in sand saves. Point being: Jay is good at dealing with the ups and the downs. And his career has mirrored that as well. Williamsons navigated three successful trips through the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, and spent 11 years on a pogo-stick between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour striving to make both a living for his young family and a name for himself.
Before I continue, you need to know that Jay Williamson is a very good friend of mine.
Last weekend, Williamson spent Rd. 3 of the Nissan Open playing right along side Tiger Woods. And for good measure, he played Rd. 4 with Woods as well.
The thrill of a lifetime! said Williamson who had not yet had the honor of playing with Woods.
Williamson candidly admitted that when Friday night rolled around at Riviera and he found that his Saturday included a date with the most sought-after athlete on the planet, he was nervous. Both began the weekend at 4-under par.
Saturday, Woods shot 72. Saturday, Williamson shot 72. And thus another round was assured for Sunday. Woods did what was expected, shooting up the leaderboard with a 7-under par round of 64. Williamson shot 64 as well.
Perhaps the best round of my life, for a lot of reasons, Jay said. And let me tell you something, he treated me with the utmost respect from the moment we shook hands Saturday morning on the tee.
While some might think Woods is in his own world, with not a care about anything but the road to the next victory, Williamson tells a far different story.
He could have big-timed me if hed wanted to, but he made me feel important, Williamson said. And as my round of 64 was progressing on Sunday, Tiger was right there supporting meHe said things like great shot, great putt, and you ought to just carry a sign that says great shot and hold it up as you play!
Williamson is a realist. He takes none of his perks for granted. He is truly proud to play the Tour that Woods has made more popular than ever.
Obviously hes the number one player in the world, Jay said. But hes a class act, hes a great guy, and you know what, he does so many little things to respect the game and those who play it. People need to know that. Hes as good as advertised and then some.
Jay Williamson is a working mans professional. Hes never finished inside the Top 100 on the money list. And hell play 32 events each year if necessary to keep his place among the Tours fully exempt. He appreciates his challenge, grinds just as hard as any of the Tours elite, and has never once told me he deserves better than what hes achieved.
I looked at the PGA Tour media guide today. It says Williamsons career best round prior to this year was 64. Three times hed done it. Someday hell go lower, but something tells me itll never match the 64 he shot playing at the highest level with the Tours highest profile player.
And to hear Williamson tell it, the Tours greatest player is just that, for more reasons than just the number that precedes his name in the World Golf Ranking. Dont take it from me ' take it from Jay - Tiger critics should make a mental note of that one.
And keep an eye on Williamson. Because of a weekend with Woods, his career may be headed to heights he never dreamed hed reach.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open
The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)
What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.
Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.
Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.
Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.
Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.
Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one
Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.
Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia
SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.
Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.
''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.
But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.
In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.
''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.
The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''
NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.
Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long
Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.
Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.
"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"
The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.
Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.
"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."
Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.
"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.
"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.
"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."