A Question of Character

By Mercer BaggsAugust 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' My professional career and that of Tiger Woods have paralleled one another. At least in respect to service.
 
He left college early to join the PGA Tour in July of 1996. I did the same thing a few months later to join The Golf Channel.
 
Unfortunately, for me, thats the brick end to this comparison. The only thing I have on Tiger is that I eventually obtained a college degree.
 
Over these last nine years, Ive had the opportunity to observe Tiger on a fairly regular basis. And Ive come to respect him more and more.
 
Thursday was another example of why.
 
Throughout the early part of this week, Woods appeared loose and casual, and yet still focused and controlled. More than anything, he appeared ready to win.
 
A victory at the 87th PGA Championship would be monumental. It would be historic.
 
No man has ever won three majors in the same season on multiple occasions. Woods performed the Triple task in 2000. And having already captured this years Masters and Open Championship, he entered Baltusrol with designs on doing it once again.
 
But a 5-over 75 in the first round has him nearer the cut line than the lead, meaning he may be headed back to Orlando long before I return ' not that hes planning on giving me a ride anyway.
 
Woods has only once shot over par in the first round of a major championship and gone on to win, doing so in this years Masters, when he opened in 74.
 
But thats the Masters, a tournament which he had won three times before on the same course. He can afford to give a little rope in the first round and not hang himself. In his six combined victories in the other majors, however, Woods has only once opened in the 70s and has never entered the second round more than four strokes off the lead.
 
Tigers day began with great expectations; his round, though, began with a bogey. It would take 17 holes before he would finally make his first birdie of the day. By that time, he was already 6 over. In response, he made an exaggerated, mock bow to the crowd. They loved it.
 
After putting out on the ninth hole, his 18th, he signed a scorecard with more squares than a room full of Al Gores.
 
But following a very difficult and trying day, he talked. And he smiled. And he politely explained everything that went wrong.
 
He was a professional.
 
And thats one of the reasons I most respect Woods.
 
Woods is the most scrutinized golfer of all time. Everything he does is under a microscope. Everything is examined to extremes. Hes either the super greatest golfer in the history of all of golf. Or hes a bum in a slump.
 
Some adorn their walls with his likeness. Others throw darts at his picture.
 
There seems to be no happy medium in relation to Woods, which makes it all the more difficult for him to remain professional, and not lash out at the public or boycott the media or doing anything to tarnish his image.
 
Everyone has something to say about Tiger, and Tiger always has to have something to say.
 
Woods always has to speak. Always. Hes the only player today who must provide some variance of a press conference before the start of a tournament and at the conclusion of each and every round. It doesnt matter if hes leading or 14 shots back after Saturday. He has to speak.
 
Vijay doesnt have to do it. Phil doesnt have do it. Ernie doesnt have to do it. Retief doesnt have to do it.
 
Woods has to. Whether or not he really wants to. Because he knows that regardless of his score or his position in the tournament he is still either THE story or hes 1B.
 
Singh loves to blame any negative perception cast his way on media bias. And in certain cases he's right in doing so. But after losing this year's Honda Classic in a playoff, he stormed off the course without giving his side. He then did the same the following week when he lost the Bay Hill Invitational on the final hole of regulation.
 
If he doesnt want to talk before a tournament, thats his prerogative. The same for if hes not in contention and doesnt wish to speak. But when he finishes runner-up and is an integral part of the story, he most certainly should. Its the professional thing to do.
 
Tiger talking might not seem like much, but it is. There are over 200 press members in the media center alone, and every publication and every TV show needs a Tiger story.
 
Whether or not you consider yourself a Tiger fan, you want to know how he fared. You want to know what he said.
 
Early in his career, there was almost a certainty that Woods would bypass at least one of these five-to-10-minute media encounters every tournament. Hed shoot something in the 70s or bogey his final hole and hed walk past everyone who had anything that would record sound or video and head straight to the practice range or to his rental car.
 
But somewhere along the line, he learned that dealing with the press is a part of his professional obligations. Its just a part of being Tiger Woods.
 
So even after he shoots 75 in the opening round of a major championship, Woods composes himself, manages a smile, and expresses his thoughts in a concise and relatively genial manner.
 
And even at times like when the entire free world thinks youre a dope for changing your swing, you have to address it, and tell them politely that you disagree with their opinion. Because you know that the more heartfelt your challenge or denial of conversation, the more heated the discussion will grow.
 
Perhaps Im overly impressed with Woods actions. Were roughly the same age, so its possible that I respect his composure because I know how very difficult it would be for me to behave in the same manner.
 
Plus, Im a member of the working media, so it benefits me for him to be somewhat accommodating.
 
I know there are legitimate gripes concerning Woods, like his use of vulgarities during the course of a round.
 
For me to condemn Tiger for his cussing or club slamming on a golf course would be more hypocritical than a politician reprimanding a lawyer for his ethics. So while I agree that he should temper himself in that regard, someone more even-tempered than I should be the one to do it.
 
Winning major championships means the world to Woods. His legacy will be defined by his performance in these four events, and he knows it.
 
Imagine if you had the chance to do something that no one in history had ever done. And then you screwed it up. Would you want to give a press conference and tell everybody why? And if you did, would you be personable and affable in doing so?
 
Woods may not have lost the tournament already, but history is against him. Woods knows history. And he knows his history.
 
Tiger Woods had every reason Thursday to take a cart straight from the scorers tent to the parking lot. He didnt have to stop and stand in the oppressive heat and give his thoughts on a crummy 75.
 
But he did. And by doing so, he said more about his character than he did about his round.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.