Lost in the Woods

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2010, 10:26 pm
Tiger Woods lost more than consciousness after hitting that fire hydrant and tree in his neighbor’s yard a year ago.

The scandal the accident exposed, the tales of marital infidelity it shook loose, led to one staggering loss after another. The accident led to losses of treasures both tangible and intangible.

It will be remembered as the year the greatest winner of this generation was humbled by all he lost.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has had a rough year both on and off the course. (Getty Images)
Woods lost his No. 1 world ranking and a 14-year streak of winning at least one PGA Tour title.

He lost his swing and his clutch putting stroke.

He lost millions of dollars in endorsements.

He lost the favor of much of sports fandom. His Sports Q Score as measured by the research firm Marketing Evaluations showed his fall from the top of its list of most “likable” athletes for the first time in a decade. Woods plummeted to 25th in the rankings.

Woods also lost his wife and his marriage in a divorce.

“I feel for him, I really do,” three-time PGA Tour winner Chris DiMarco said. “What he did, I’m disappointed. From a moral aspect, I feel disappointed. But for him to have to go through it like he’s going through it in the public eye, it’s tough. I don’t think anyone deserves that. He’s a great asset to the PGA Tour. He kept this train rolling for years and years. He’s made a lot of us a lot of money. There’s no doubt that when he’s at his best, he drives everything, ticket sales, TV network ratings, everything.”

Woods’ losses didn’t just change his life, they changed golf.

At his best, Woods left little room for the opposition to thrive.

His giant shadow darkened the careers of so many of his foes, stunting growth and choking possibilities.

Woods didn’t just beat his would-be rivals. He beat them down. He won majors by 15, 12 and eight shots. Where might Sergio Garcia be today if Woods wasn’t there blocking so many pathways to major championships? How many more majors might Ernie Els have won?

Nobody since Jack Nicklaus possessed a game as intimidating as Woods.

That’s changed, dramatically.

While Woods appears to have lost the confidence that made him so formidable, his competition’s gaining it.

We’ve heard it in the boldest terms the last few months.

“I would love to face Tiger,” Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy said in the weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup. “Unless his game rapidly improves, I think anyone in the European team would fancy his chances against him.”

While expecting Woods will come back and win more majors, PGA Tour veteran Scott Verplank followed up last week on the bravado he’s sensing from fellow tour pros.
 
“All I know is that the world’s a lot different than it used to be,” Verplank said. “As talented as Tiger is, I would suspect he’s going to find his golf game. But I think his shield of invincibility has been dissolved. I think it’s been dissolved some on the golf course, too. I don’t think guys are really all that worried about him.”
 
This Thanksgiving holiday will mark the one-year anniversary of Tiger Woods' SUV accident and when his personal and professional lives unraveled. We take a look back on the past year in this photo timeline:  Tiger's Year in Review
DiMarco, Els and others say they fully expect Woods will regain his winning form, but he’ll have to beat an emboldened opposition to do so.
 
When Woods veered into his neighbor’s yard a year ago, he was No. 1 in the world with a ranking of 15.937 average points. Phil Mickelson was a distant second, almost seven points behind. The point differential between Woods and Mickelson back then was the same as between Mickelson and the 70th ranked player in the world.

What Woods lost, others are lining up to gain. The territory Woods once occupied is now open to the challenge of new dominions.

England’s Lee Westwood took over at No. 1 in the world rankings last month with Woods’ latest streak at the top ending after a record 281 consecutive weeks.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open), South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (PGA Championship) won the last three majors of the year.

Without Woods carrying the banner for the PGA Tour, the European Tour is thriving on the verge of what could be its new golden era.

Westwood, McDowell, Oosthuizen and Kaymer all helped the European Tour raise its stature.

At the start of the 2008 season, just two Europeans ranked among the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and England’s Justin Rose. Today, six of the top 10 hail from Europe.

A new youth movement in Europe, Asia and the United States is poised to make its mark without Woods there to squash it.

Kaymer just won his major at 25, Oosthuizen at 27. American Dustin Johnson looks like he could join them before turning 26 next year. The popularity of 21-year-olds McIlroy and American Rickie Fowler is growing swiftly. Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa (19) and Italy’s Matteo Manassero (17) may find more room to be major factors with Woods failing to challenge.

Matt Kuchar enjoyed a career year and is a candidate to win PGA Tour Player of the Year despite winning just once this season.

Jim Furyk won three times this year and claimed the FedEx Cup and will be the PGA Tour’. Player of the Year if Kuchar isn’t.

There was so much more to be won this last year without Woods appearing to win everything, but it’s a year that will be remembered for what was lost. More than anything, it’s a year defined by what Woods lost.
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry