Whats Next for Woods

By Randall MellApril 12, 2010, 2:50 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods isn’t sure what’s next.

After tying for fourth in his return to golf Sunday at the Masters, he left Augusta National leaving no clue where his next step will lead.

Will we see him at Quail Hollow in three weeks? The Players Championship in a month? The Memorial in two months? Or is he going to limit himself to major championships in his newly crafted competitive life? Is it possible we might not see him again until the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 10 weeks?

And when we do see him again, who are we going to get? The humbled champ who at week’s start seemed so eager to redeem himself and win back the respect and affection of golf? Or the frustrated champ who at week’s end seemed annoyed when questioned on national TV about how the changes he’s making to his temperament might adversely affect his game?

After signing his scorecard Sunday, Woods was asked if he has any idea when he’ll play again.

“No,” he said. “I’m going to take a little time off and kind of re-evaluate things.”

Who can blame him?

Woods’ seven days in the public eye at the Masters must have felt like a lifetime.

For a guy who so rigorously guards his privacy, the intensifying scrutiny must be grating as he makes his way back from the public disgrace of his sex scandal. This, after all, is a guy who hated the excessive analysis of his golf swing. Imagine what the probing analysis of his character, integrity and very soul must be doing to him.

The compelling question Woods’ return to tournament golf raised at the Masters this week wasn’t over how he’ll meet new challenges inside the ropes. His tie for fourth, his ability to contend with rust on his game after five months away, bodes well for a speedy return to his best form. The compelling question is how he’ll meet the new challenges between his ears. It’s how he’ll keep the relentless new scrutiny from penetrating the fortress of personal space he so fiercely guards. It’s whether his desire and motivation will wane with the assault.

That’s what made Woods’ interview with CBS-TV’s Peter Kostis so revealing at the end of the tournament. We got a glimpse of how the scrutiny might ultimately wear on Woods when he bristled over a reasonable question. Kostis asked Woods how managing his temperament might have adversely affected his game in his poor Sunday start.

“I think people are making way too much of a big deal of this thing,” Woods said. “I was not feeling good. I hit a big snipe off the first hole, and I don’t know how people can think I should be happy about that.

“I hit a wedge [at the second hole] from 45 yards and basically bladed it over the green. These are not things I normally do. So I’m not going to be happy. And I hit one of the worst, low kind of quack hooks on five. So I hadn’t hit a good shot yet. I’m not going to walk around there with a lot of pep in my step.”

It was a reasonable question piled onto a grueling week for Woods.

On Monday, Woods stepped in front of the public for the first time at Augusta National looking like a radically different man in his return to golf. He looked nervous about re-appearing in the wake of his marital woes, uncomfortable in his attempt to connect with a public he’s practically stiff-armed in the past. The certainty of purpose he always carried himself with was missing in that first practice round.

Watching him, you couldn’t help wondering: Who is this guy?

In his news conference Monday, his first since the scandal broke, he was humble and contrite and more open than anyone has ever seen him. He spoke about showing more respect for the game and about toning down his emotional outbursts, both the exuberance and the anger.

On Wednesday, Woods endured being publicly chastised by Augusta National chairman Billy Payne in a State of the Masters address.

“He forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune come responsibility, not invisibility,” Payne said of Woods. “It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grand kids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”

After hitting the ceremonial first tee shot Thursday, Arnold Palmer said he supported Payne’s stance.

The scrutiny on matters beyond Woods’ game continued in Saturday’s third round when an angry Woods let loose a profanity on national TV after a wayward shot. There was another later in the round. It made an issue of Woods’ pledge to show more respect for the game.

Come Sunday, at the end of this long, grueling week for Woods, Kostis’ asked his reasonable question about how Woods was going to manage his cool without losing his fire. It was the perfect question linking Woods’ competitiveness with his larger life and its challenges. Maybe that’s why it irritated Woods.

For Woods, every week’s likely to be a grueling week with too many reasonable questions.

Woods’ response wasn’t unreasonable, but his tone reflects the challenges that lie ahead.

In his Monday news conference, Woods was asked what temperament he’ll be striving to achieve in his return to the game.

“I think how I was earlier in my career, I was at peace,” Woods said. “I would be more centered, more balanced, and that's where I'm headed towards. That's what I'm working towards.”

Peace? The work promises to be hard in the meditation Woods says he’s taking up again in his return to his Buddhist roots.

Bobby Jones retired from golf back in the ‘30s because of the pressures the game brought. He played before the National Enquirer, the Internet and paparazzi existed.

Woods quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional majors has resumed. Sunday night, at Masters’ end, Woods’ game appeared near enough to believe he’ll meet the challenge, but you can’t help wondering how long his heart will be up for it.

The challenges won’t relent for Woods. That’s not the problem. It’s that the questions that won’t relent.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.