Another setback for Woods' back

By Rex HoggardFebruary 5, 2015, 11:46 pm

SAN DIEGO – Animosity toward success is a natural part of the sport DNA and perennial winners are rarely universally adored  think the 2000 New York Yankees or 2015 New England Patriots.

Tiger Woods was not immune to this phenomenon when he was winning everything with a trophy and closing in on Jack Nicklaus’ all-time majors mark like a coastal express headed for Los Angeles. While he enjoyed plenty of fan support, there were those who would annually question if golf wouldn’t be better off if there were more parity.

But like all dynasties, there comes a time of diminishing returns, when rancor gives way to reality. Times like Thursday at Torrey Pines as Woods slowly, gingerly made his way up the steep second fairway.

He’d just sent another drive off line, this time to the right which makes sense because he missed his drive on the previous hole to the left, and he was grimacing his way off the tee, some 20 yards behind his playing companions for the day, Billy Horschel and Rickie Fowler.

Timeline: Woods' injuries | Photos: Tiger's back injury at Farmers

The hushed tone of stunned fans was broken only by a single sympathetic comment from a member of his dwindling gallery: “Man, it’s sad when a guy’s career is ended by an injury.”

It’s actually been a litany of injuries that have dogged Woods, and the ailing back that sent him packing is nothing new.

He would tee off at the par-3 third hole, pushing his iron shot to some 45 feet before flipping his ball mark to caddie Joe LaCava and heading for the parking lot to post his ninth career withdrawal on the PGA Tour.

It’s a familiar scene, repeated in recent years from Firestone in Ohio to TPC Sawgrass and Doral in Florida. The difference now is how the hordes who have tracked his every move sense a foreboding future for the former world No. 1.

“It’s frustrating that it started shutting down like that,” said Woods, who was 2 over par when he walked off the course. “I was ready to go. I had a good warm-up session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again.”

But if a 2 1/2-hour fog delay was the culprit on Day 1 it felt more like an apropos backdrop to what has become a baffling standard in recent years.

Cold and coming off his worst round on the PGA Tour as a professional last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (82), Woods did little to build confidence or dispel an undercurrent of concern that he’s been beset by the chipping yips.

Woods’ chipping woes surfaced early on Day 1, with the seven-time Farmers Insurance Open winner short-siding himself at his opening hole (No. 10 on the North Course) and roping his chip some 35 feet past the hole for an early bogey.

It marked the fifth time in Woods’ last six starts he began a week on the wrong side of the ledger and further solidified what some have started referring to as “yip-ageddon.”

“I’m not sure he has the yips, but if I hear ‘release point’ one more time I’d suggest he change the vocabulary,” said one longtime Tour swing coach, referring to Woods’ take on his short-game problems.

But as concerning as the yips may be, a recurring back injury following surgery last spring is a much greater fear.

Although it’s far too early in the Chris Como era, not to mention the season, to claim defeat, there would be little Woods could do from the disabled list to change his competitive fortunes. It’s likely why he seemed so upbeat late last year at the Hero World Challenge when he went on the record saying he’d followed all of his “protocols” and was cleared for duty. But it’s never that easy when it comes to Woods. Not now.

“This is ... usually [I] don’t have to wait like this,” Woods said when asked if Thursday’s ailment was the same condition he had surgically repaired last year. “When I’m at home practicing I keep going, keep going. This is different.”

Fred Couples can relate. Throughout his career Couples has been beset by back injuries. When he showed up on Wednesday to walk the pro-am round with Wood, one got the impression it was less about paying off Super Bowl bets, which Freddie said was his reason for being at Torrey Pines, and more about giving his friend some moral support.

“He did have surgery. I’ve never had back surgery, but I know how it feels. He’s got a lot of speed and he’s hitting it a mile but he really hasn’t played much golf in a year and I’m not sure how good anyone would be after that,” Couples said. “I can speak for a back and a lot of things feel differently.”

“Differently” certainly covers another withdrawal for Woods. It was, after all, on these same seaside hills seven years ago that Woods penned what is arguably the greatest chapter of his legendary career, winning a U.S. Open on one leg in overtime.

The guy who fought through that pain is nowhere near throwing in the proverbial towel. Still, there was no ignoring the fact that on Thursday he couldn’t make it 12 holes on a bad back and the dramatically declining juxtaposition wasn’t lost on anyone.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.