Bunker Shots Tiger news looms large South Africa looks to repeat
Tiger Woods isn’t playing the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla., but he’ll be the big news yet again this week.
He’s guaranteed to do one of two things that will irritate his PGA Tour brethren.
He’ll either commit to playing next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, or he won’t.
The deadline for committing is Friday, though Woods will likely commit earlier if he’s going to play.
If Woods commits, fellow PGA Tour pros will be annoyed because it will detonate a news story that will dwarf anything that occurs at Innisbrook. They know it will set into motion plans for the hostile invasion of their world, a raid by paparazzi, supermarket tabloid reporters and entertainment news media. But it’s what they don’t know about who or what’s coming that they really dread.
If Woods commits, somebody may as well pitch a big-top tent over Bay Hill because the circus is coming to town.
“I think we’re all looking forward to having him back,” Jim Furyk said. “He’s our best player, and we need him back. We’re just looking forward to when it’s business as usual, not the circus.”
If Woods doesn’t commit, it will prolong speculation about when he’ll finally return, speculation more and more PGA Tour pros are finding as tolerable as a skin rash.
Of course, there’s the possibility Woods commits to playing the Tavistock on Monday and Tuesday at the Isleworth development where Woods lives outside Orlando. That news still dwarfs the action at Innisbrook while prolonging speculation as to when Woods will play a real tournament.
Stance: Woods has never played in the Transitions Championship, but his shadow’s there this week.
Takeaway: A strong field takes to Innisbrook this week with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh and Stewart Cink scheduled to tee it up. There’s also a nice contingent of under-30 talent looking to make headlines with Dustin Johnson, Sean O’Hair, J.B. Holmes, Adam Scott, Ryan Moore, Michael Sim, Ryo Ishikawa, Rickie Fowler, Andres Romero and Justin Rose in the mix. David Duval and John Daly will be among the most popular draws as they continue to work on returning to their best forms.
Bunker shot: Retief Goosen goes for a rare double-double this week. He’ll be looking to make it two victories in a row on the PGA Tour for South Africans after Ernie Els’ victory last week at the WGC-CA Championship. Goosen is also the defending champ looking to repeat.
And around the world . . .
European Tour: After a solid tie for 14th at the WGC-CA Championship, Italy’s Francesco Molinari leads the field at the Trophee Hassan II tournament in Morocco. Paul McGinley, the former European Ryder Cupper, is the other notable news there. He’s making his first start in more than three months after undergoing knee surgery.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18