Will he or won't he?

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2011, 11:09 pm

Yes, Tiger Woods will find his mojo again. He will return to No. 1 in the world rankings and rule over the game again.

Or . . .

No, forget it, Woods won’t rediscover the edge that made him so special. He has lost his swing and his magic, and he’ll never find them again.

History tells us Woods could go either way on this one.

If you believe Woods will rebound, here are five reasons to believe you may be right. If you’re expecting the worst, here are five reasons to believe you know best.

Here’s a look at five players who lost their edge but enjoyed a return to glory, and five players who lost it and never got it back . . . or haven’t so far:

FIVE REASONS WOODS WILL REBOUND:

BEN HOGAN: If Hogan could survive a head-on crash into a Greyhound bus, if he could rebound from a double fracture of his pelvis, a broken collarbone, a chipped rib and life-threatening blood clots and go on to win six more major championships, why can’t Woods find a way to rebound from his personal trauma?

DARREN CLARKE: Clarke fell off the golf map in a slump that saw him endure four winless years and sink to 143rd on the European Tour Order of Merit in 2007 while failing to record a single top-10 finish that year. It’s no coincidence Clarke’s troubles came with his wife, Heather, dying of cancer in ’06. Clarke put the pieces of his game together this year to win the British Open, his first major championship title.

LEE WESTWOOD: After cracking the top 10 in the world rankings in 1998, Westwood lost his swing. His game slumped and he spiraled out of the top 100 in the world and then the top 200, sinking as low as No. 264 before putting his game back together. Westwood took the No. 1 ranking from Woods late last year.

STEVE STRICKER: With three PGA Tour titles to his credit, Stricker lost his swing and his confidence, then lost his PGA Tour card in 2003. He completely overhauled his swing, rebuilt his confidence and has won seven PGA Tour titles in the last three seasons. He’s the highest ranked American in the world today.

JOHNNY MILLER: His career derailed by the putting yips, Miller found a way to overcome them and win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1994, seven years after what most fans believed would be his last PGA Tour title. Yes, Miller’s return was brief, but he found his magic in a short burst nobody thought possible. He showed how great players can find ways to overcome great obstacles.

FIVE REASONS WOODS MAY NEVER FIND HIS MOJO AGAIN:

IAN BAKER-FINCH: After winning the British Open in 1991, Baker Finch’s powers left him. His slump was mysterious. He could look brilliant on the driving range and totally lost on the course. He never righted what was wrong with his swing or game.

SEVE BALLESTEROS: The winner of five major championships, Ballesteros’ game left him when his erratic driving became so short and crooked he began struggling to break 80. Back problems hindered his bid to find his winning form.

RALPH GULDAHL: A dominant player in his time, Guldahl won the U.S. Open in 1937 and ’38 and the Masters’ in ’39. He completely lost his swing after writing a book titled 'Groove Your Golf.' His wife and son claimed he lost his game overanalyzing his swing. Guldahl insisted he just lost the desire to win.

DAVID DUVAL: Winner of the British Open, No. 1 in the world rankings, Duval severely slumped with swing woes. Why Duval lost his game remains something of a mystery. Duval didn’t seem driven to remain atop the world after winning the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2001. Lost desire seemed an issue. Back, wrist and shoulder problems also hindered him. So did vertigo. Duval continues to search for the magic that helped him shoot 59 once and become a rival to Tiger Woods.

CHIP BECK: Though Beck never won a major, he was a quality player, a four-time PGA Tour winner who played on three Ryder Cup teams, won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average in ’88 and shot 59 in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational. He inexplicably lost his swing and missed 46 consecutive cuts in the late ‘90s. Though he later found some success on the Champions Tour, Beck never regained his form on the PGA Tour and took to selling insurance.

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.