Cut Line: Tiger taking slow road back from surgery

By Rex HoggardMay 23, 2014, 6:52 pm

High marks this week to Tiger Woods for following doctor’s orders, Rory McIlroy for listening to his own advice and Jason Gore for remembering a truly inspiring summer.

Made Cut

The slow road. If anything could be gleaned from Monday’s Q&A with Tiger Woods at media day for his Quicken Loans National, it is that the often-injured star has turned into the model patient, however reluctantly.

This was, after all, the same guy who told doctors in 2008 that not only was he going to play the U.S. Open on a busted left wheel, but he was going to win. He delivered on both fronts.

This time, however, Woods has replaced his normal bravado with a much more balanced approach if his take on Monday at Congressional was any indication.

“There is no timetable,” Woods said when asked about his recovery from back surgery on March 31. “That’s been kind of the realization through all this. There is no date. It’s not going to be up to me if I play, that’s up to my docs. I’d like to play now.”

It’s good to see that at 38 Woods may still think himself invincible on the golf course, but in the doctor’s office he leaves things up to the experts.

Un-qualified success. Open qualifying for all of the national championships annually delivers a healthy dollop of tales, but this week was particularly interesting.

On Tuesday, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open after shooting 74-68 at Half Moon Bay. It’s the second time this year the youngster has charmed the masses.

In April, Li won her age division at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National.

A day later, 50-year-old Laura Davis followed Li at sectional qualifying, carding rounds of 72-75 to punch her ticket to Pinehurst. It was another victory for golf’s most democratic championship.

A true patriot. Your scribe is bound for the Patriot Cup this weekend in Tulsa, Okla., a tournament that benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation, which supports the families of servicemen and women injured or killed in combat.

The Folds of Honor was founded by Dan Rooney in 2007 to assist those who serve, and the Patriot Cup brings together current service members, supporters and PGA Tour players for a two-day event.

While his work is inspiring, your scribe has to admit the U.S. Air Force major is a tad delusional.

He recently texted your scribe explaining that the “grunts” (U.S. Marine and Army personal) didn’t stand a chance against the “flyboys” (U.S. Air Force and Naval aviators).

Always knew you had to be a little off to be an Air Force pilot.

Tweet of the week: @JasonGore59 (Jason Gore) “It’s been nine years since I’ve been on this awesome property! So glad to be at #PinehurstResort”

During one of the most magical summers in the history of professional golf (non-Tiger Woods division), Gore earned a battlefield promotion with three victories on the Tour, qualified for the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and was three shots back entering the final round before he ballooned to a closing 84.

His Cinderella story still ranks as one of the best in the last decade, and his emotional return to Pinehurst is an indication how much that episode in his life still means to Gore.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Silent Rors. Anyone who watched Rory McIlroy’s news conference on Wednesday had to feel for the young man.

His very public engagement came to very public ending this week when he announced he and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki had broken off their plans to marry.

“There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people,” McIlroy said in a statement. “The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realize that I wasn't ready for all that marriage entails.”

Later that morning, the Ulsterman had to endure a 30-minute “therapy” session with the media at Wentworth and later disclosed he has been keeping his phone off and gave away his laptop to avoid dwelling on the news.

He opened the BMW PGA Championship with rounds of 68-71 and is tied for fifth place, proving yet again that McIlroy is nothing if not resilient.

Missed Cut

Remembering Mac. This week at Wentworth players and caddies honored longtime European Tour caddie Iain “Mac” McGregor, who suffered a heart attack and died while working at the Madeira Islands Open on May 11.

On Thursday at the BMW PGA, players wore black to honor McGregor (#BlackForMac) and European Tour officials apologized for allowing the Madeira Island event to continue in the wake of the caddie’s death.

“I completely understand the views of people who say that we should not have carried on, but it was a terrible situation for anyone to be in and the decision to finish the tournament was not taken lightly, either by myself or by the tournament officials on the ground in Madeira,” European Tour chief George O’Grady said.

Although it was two weeks too late, Mac finally received the honor he deserved.

NFL (No Fun League). The par-3 13th hole at Colonial this week is strangely quiet thanks to a move last year by the PGA Tour to end the annual caddie races on the hole.

The circuit banned the races last year at Colonial and the Waste Management Phoenix Open over safety concerns for the caddies, and given the tragic death of McGregor two weeks ago perhaps it was for the best.

But watching groups trudge from tee to green on the hole in near silence this week is a vivid reminder that entertainment is always in the eye of the beholder.

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Door officially open for Woods to be playing vice captain

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 11:50 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thirteen months ago, when Jim Furyk was named the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, one of the biggest questions was what would happen if Furyk were to play his way onto his own team.

It wasn’t that unrealistic. 

At the time, Furyk was 46 and coming off a season in which he tied for second at the U.S. Open and shot 58 in a PGA Tour event. If anything, accepting the Ryder Cup captaincy seemed premature.

And now?

Now, he’s slowly recovering from shoulder surgery that knocked him out of action for six months. He’s ranked 230th in the world. He’s planning to play an 18-event schedule, on past champion status, mostly to be visible and available to prospective team members.

A playing captain? Furyk chuckled at the thought.

“Wow,” he said here at PGA of America headquarters, “that would be crazy-difficult.”

That’s important to remember when assessing Tiger Woods’ chances of becoming a playing vice captain.

On Tuesday, Woods was named an assistant for the matches at Le Golf National, signing up for months of group texts and a week in which he'd sport an earpiece, scribble potential pairings on a sheet of paper and fetch anything Team USA needs.

It’s become an increasingly familiar role for Woods, except this appointment isn’t anything like his vice captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 or last year’s Presidents Cup.

Unlike the past few years, when his competitive future was in doubt because of debilitating back pain, there’s at least a chance now that Woods can qualify for the team on his own, or deserve consideration as a captain’s pick. 

There’s a long way to go, of course. He’s 104th in the points standings. He’s made only two official starts since August 2015. His driving needs a lot of work. He hasn’t threatened serious contention, and he might not for a while. But, again: Come September, it’s possible.

And so here was Woods’ taped message Tuesday: “My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup.”

That follows what Woods told reporters last week at Riviera, when he expressed a desire to be a playing vice captain.

“Why can’t I have both?” he said. “I like both.”

Furyk, eventually, will have five assistants in Paris, and he could have waited to see how Woods fared this year before assigning him an official role.

He opted against that. Woods is too valuable of an asset.

“I want him on-board right now,” Furyk said.

Arnold Palmer was the last to serve as both player and captain for a Ryder Cup – in 1963. Nothing about the Ryder Cup bears any resemblance to those matches, other than there’s still a winner and a loser. There is more responsibility now. More planning. More strategy. More pressure.

For the past two team competitions, the Americans have split into four-man pods that practiced together under the supervision of one of the assistants. That assistant then relayed any pertinent information to the captain, who made the final decision.

The assistants are relied upon even more once the matches begin. Furyk will need to be on the first tee for at least the first hour of the matches, welcoming all of the participants and doing interviews for the event’s many TV partners, and he needs an assistant with each of the matches out on the course. They’re the captain’s eyes and ears.

Furyk would need to weigh whether Woods’ potential impact as a vice captain – by all accounts he’s the best Xs-and-Os specialist – is worth more than the few points he could earn on the course. Could he adequately handle both tasks? Would dividing his attention actually be detrimental to the team?

“That would be a bridge we cross when we got there,” Furyk said.

If Woods plays well enough, then it’s hard to imagine him being left off the roster, even with all of the attendant challenges of the dual role.

“It’s possible,” Furyk said, “but whether that’s the best thing for the team, we’ll see.”

It’s only February, and this comeback is still new. As Furyk himself knows, a lot can change over the course of a year.

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Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

"This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

"I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

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Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

"Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

Hard to argue with the result.

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Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

  • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
  • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
  • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday