Woods, McIlroy forging rivalry in FedEx Cup playoffs

By Randall MellSeptember 5, 2012, 7:59 pm

CARMEL, Ind. – Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods keep crossing each other’s paths in these FedEx Cup playoffs.

It’s a wonderful thing.

It happened again Wednesday in the BMW Championship media center with Woods moving off the stage and McIlroy moving onto it.

With McIlroy winning two big events in the last month, you wondered if there was something compellingly symbolic in this passing, if McIlroy, in a larger sense, is ready to take Woods’ place on the game’s grand stages.

It’s better for the game if they’re both ascending with their forms, if they can keep sharing big moments in these playoffs and beyond.

They had smiles for each other, shaking hands in the media center.

“Good to see you playing so well in the pro-am,” McIlroy cracked after seeing Woods’ team atop the leaderboard.

Video: Tiger Woods' BMW Championship news conference

Video: Rory McIlroy's BMW Championship news conference

“You like that, huh?” Woods said.

Who doesn’t like seeing Woods and McIlroy moving toward top form together? So many crave seeing the game’s next meaningful rivalry develop, but it’s Woods and McIlroy who hold the power to make it happen.

In PGA Tour headquarters, there isn’t a better time for a rivalry like this to emerge.

McIlroy and Woods could re-shape the way we think about the playoffs.

They are in position to make this the best FedEx Cup ever.

After watching McIlroy and Woods put a buzz into the opening of the playoffs with their first- and second-round pairings at The Barclays, and then watching Woods chase McIlroy down the stretch of last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the table is set for the most memorable FedEx Cup finish since the PGA Tour created this postseason format in 2007.

With McIlroy and Woods paired together again this week for the first two rounds of the BMW Championship, the storyline heats up.

McIlroy was asked if there’s an added challenge in being paired so often.

“I think it definitely creates some more interest for the fans and for golf in general,” McIlroy said. “I don't see any challenge in it. I think it's just good fun.”

McIlroy is clearly the frontrunner to win his first PGA Tour Player of the Year honor, but Woods can give his peers pause before casting their votes with a big FedEx Cup finish. McIlroy and Woods each have claimed a Tour-leading three titles this year, but McIlroy has a substantial advantage with his PGA Championship victory, the lone major between them this season.

Still, what if Woods wins the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship and takes home the FedEx Cup? The vote after that would tell us a lot about how much majors really matter to Tour pros and how important these playoffs have become.

The voting matters to Woods, who is looking to add to his 10 PGA Tour Player of the Year awards, his first in three years.

“It’s always nice to get the respect of your peers,” Woods said. “It’s voted on by us. It's not voted on by anybody else. To have a year where the guys that you're trying to beat day in and day out think that you're the best player, that's saying something. It’s a great honor, and it's something that the guys who have won are very proud of.”

Here is a look at how McIlroy and Woods compare this season:

• McIlroy and Woods each have three victories this year with McIlroy claiming the only major between them. McIlroy won the Honda Classic, the PGA Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial and the AT&T National.

• McIlroy is first in FedEx Cup points, Woods is third.

• McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in money ($6,402,192), Woods is second ($5,533,158).

• McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in scoring average (68.869) with Woods second, just two thousands of a point behind.

• McIlroy is No. 1 in the world rankings, Woods is No. 3.

Though the major championship season is over, these playoffs and the upcoming Ryder Cup make for a potential big-bang finish to 2012. With Woods and McIlroy in starring roles, they make September matter.

They both like where their games are at for this big finish.

“I think I've really hit the ball well this entire year, especially this summer on, I've hit it really well,” Woods said. “It was just a matter of making a few more putts and a couple up and downs, here and there. I'm starting to do that now. So that's a good sign.

“The work I've put in with Sean [Foley], it's really coming together. I'm driving the ball probably better than I ever have. I'm hitting it farther, I'm hitting it straighter, which is a nice combo. I think my statistics kind of reflect that, which is great. It goes to show you where I was and how bad I was driving it to now, how well I'm driving it.”

While a McIlroy/Woods rivalry would put a jolt in the game, the sport’s biggest story continues to be Woods’ quest to overtake Jack Nicklaus record for major championship titles (18).

McIlroy was asked if Woods, at 36, looks capable of adding to his 14 major championship titles.

“He’s old, huh?” McIlroy playfully cracked. “I said it at the start of the year. I played with him in our first event of the year in Abu Dhabi, and I thought he played really, really well. He got himself in contention. He didn't quite win, but after seeing the performance there, I expected some great things from him this year. Obviously, he has won three times, and he has played well. He has had his chances in the majors, going into the weekends, and it just hasn't quite happened for him. But, for sure, he's going to keep putting himself up there in positions, and he's going to have a lot of chances to win tournaments and majors.”

While major championships will always be the greatest forum for forging rivalries, McIlroy and Woods hold the power to make the playoffs remembered for where theirs began.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: