Another Detour for Tiger

By Rex HoggardMay 12, 2011, 9:56 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With a swing straight out of cold storage, on a knee in desperate need of a cold compress, Tiger Woods grimaced his way to another early exit at The Players Championship on Thursday and sent a chill down the collective spines of the PGA Tour hierarchy.

For the second consecutive year Woods didn’t put in a full week at TPC Sawgrass, done in this time by an ailing left knee and Achilles that he injured during last month’s Masters.

On Tuesday Woods said he didn’t know what to expect from his injured left leg. It took him just one swing to find out on Thursday.

“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,” said Woods, who withdrew after nine holes at 6 over par, 14 strokes behind first-round leader Nick Watney and lost on a leaderboard that featured 78 scores of par or better. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods speaks with the media after his WD. (Getty Images)

At the fourth hole the chain began unraveling. From the left rough he hit his approach into a water hazard, from the drop zone he found the same water hazard and needed an 18 footer to salvage a triple bogey-7.

From there his game, and his health, seemed to deteriorate with each shot. There was a grimace when he pulled his approach shot left of the fifth green and a pained knee flex following his drive at No. 6.

Woods, who didn’t play last week’s Wells Fargo Championship while he rested his assorted injuries, said the wayward tee shot at No. 4 was related to his leg and by the time he chipped his third shot into a bunker at the par-5 ninth he was done.

All that remained was the paperwork and another surreal snapshot – this time of Woods climbing into his white Mercedes-Benz for the long, lonely drive back down Interstate-95.

He briefly visited the Tour’s fitness trailer, but that was more a formality than a form of treatment. Tour regulations require a player provide the circuit documentation for a withdrawal within 14 days. “Since 99 percent of the time the player has been working with our physio team they usually stop in there afterward and this note is provided by them,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s vice president of competitions.

Last year Woods withdrew seven holes into his final round at The Players with a previously undisclosed neck injury. By comparison this year was almost predictable.

A man who once lived by the mantra that he never showed up unless he was ready to win, rolled into north Florida this week having not touched a club since Augusta National. He played just nine holes on Tuesday and another nine on Wednesday and seemed out of sync from the outset of his opening round.

He was slow, almost sluggish. To put it in context, Kevin Na moves faster. To put it in perspective, he looked like a man doing Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a favor.

That he was playing TPC Sawgrass was a bigger surprise than his early exit. It’s now been a decade since he won the “fifth major” and a player who has etched out a Hall-of-Fame career by outworking his competition has become something of a part-time player, the byproduct of injury and off-course turmoil.

The mind may be willing, but not the body.

Asked if he was advised by his doctors not to play TPC Sawgrass, Woods said he was not. “They said I could play,” he said “The more rest the better it would be, obviously. It’s a big event.”

The tournament that is, not Woods’ withdrawal. Although the latter certainly qualifies as a happening. One source with knowledge of the injury said the bigger concern is the Achilles ailment, which are historically slow to heal and easy to reinjure.

A Tour trainer said it would take a “normal person” about eight weeks to fully recover from a similar injury. But, of course. Woods doesn’t have that kind of time, nor is he a “normal person.”

He now has three weeks before his next potential start at the Memorial, and just over a month before the U.S. Open. Make no mistake, the man who dismissed doctors’ orders to play the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg will be at Congressional the second week of June.

The only question is what will he bring to the season’s second major? Or even if he will be able to play Congressional?

The camp’s plan now is to wait. Asked if Woods intended to have a magnetic resonance imaging test done on his ailing left knee or Achilles his manager, Mark Steinberg, said via e-mail: “That is not the case. We are in the evaluating phase right now and will determine the next steps.”

For all the concerns that were born from Woods’ off-course missteps in 2010, it was his slowly deteriorating health that should have concerned the powers in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the most.

Scandal, it now seems, he can deal with. A chronically ailing left leg and a swing that takes a toll with every turn, however, may be a different story.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'

Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'

DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal

This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf

Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'