With end of winless streak, Woods can smile

By Rex HoggardDecember 5, 2011, 1:53 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In the early moments of “The Adjustment Bureau,” leading man Matt Damon makes a speech that begins, “When you got in a fight, it wasn't whether or not you got knocked down. It's what you do when you get back up.”

Two years and 26 tournaments since taking his high-profile haymaker Tiger Woods finally had an answer for his critics, and maybe even himself, outdueling Zach Johnson on a postcard-perfect afternoon north of Los Angeles to at least begin closing the book on one of the most curious chapters in sports history.

On the extended resume that Woods has etched over a decade a one-stroke squeaker at a limited-field, silly-season event may not resonate as profound, or even particularly interesting, but after two stints on the DL, two swing coaches, two caddies and too many missed opportunities it was reason to crack the champagne – which he dutifully provided to the press corps as afternoon quickly turned to night.

Enter “Champagne Tiger Woods,” not exactly the dominant figure he once was but undoubtedly not ready for pasture, as many of his critics figured he was as his winless slump went from weeks to years.

What it lacked in depth Woods’ Chevron World Challenge triumph made up for in significance, the first “W” under swing coach Sean Foley’s watch, the first since Woods’ personal and professional life took a header in November 2009 and, maybe more importantly for Woods, the first since he started spending more time in doctor’s offices than on practice tees.

Not that the Chevron host was in much of a mood to dig deep into a guarded psyche following his shootout thriller at Sherwood Country Club, but the significance was not entirely lost on him.

“In the middle of the summer when I was on crutches and on the couch, that was tough,” said Woods, who closed with 69 for a 10-under 278 total. “I’ve been there before in my career and it’s probably more difficult than people can imagine.”

Imagine his relief following close calls at last month’s Australian Open and this year’s Masters. Even last year’s Chevron, where he lost a playoff to Graeme McDowell with a one-dimensional swing and a body that was, if not broken, then severely bent.

This wasn’t easy, didn’t even look that way in HD, and although Woods may have sidestepped the historical significance of this victory his fist pump and unrestrained yell on the 72nd hole spoke volumes.

One stroke down to Johnson with two holes to play, Woods rifled a 9-iron from 172 yards on the par-3 17th to 15 feet to square the match and walked the winner in from 6 feet following another 9-iron from 158 yards at the last for the victory.

“Poor guy couldn’t make a putt for three days and then made two coming in,” said Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava. “I told him, it wasn’t easy but it was a lot of fun.

None of this has been easy for Woods. Not the far-too-public divorce, the injuries and certainly not the losses, and when he started the final round one stroke back and locked in a putting contest with Johnson – the competitive equivalent of getting embroiled in a land war in Russia – he must have been pining for the days when players would peel off leaderboards at the sight of his name.

But Woods pulled even with Johnson on the third, went one clear at the fourth and was 2 up through 11 holes following a two-putt birdie. Like McDowell a year earlier, Johnson squared the match with a birdie at the 13th hole and pulled ahead with a 12-footer at the 16th hole.

The new Woods, the guy still learning the nuances of his swing and battling a balky putter, had shown a concerning inability to run uphill when the shot clock was winding down. On Sunday he closed with consecutive birdies to chants of “Let’s go Ti-Ger.”

Not all silly-season events are created equal, and Woods’ fifth Chevron title would certainly qualify as an object that is larger than it appears, building momentum for his 2012 campaign, which begins in about six weeks at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The victory also propelled him to 21st in the World Golf Ranking, a confounding jump of 32 places following his plummet to 52nd.

Asked on Saturday which was more important, a win or the progress he’s shown dating back to last month’s Australian Open, Woods was predictably vague, suggesting it was the progress that was most rewarding.

In practical terms at Sherwood progress was 52 of 72 greens in regulation, a 72 percent clip that is five points better than his limited season average, a 1.58 putting average to rank third in the field and just three three-putts all week.

“They all feel good,” Woods said of the victory. “They’re not easy, people don’t realize that. I don’t think I’ve taken it for granted because I know how hard it is.”

For Woods victories may be like children, impossible to distinguish between the good and the great, but for those around him the Chevron was more than just another trophy for the mantel.

“Winning means everything to him whether it’s an 18-man field or Augusta National,” LaCava said. “He wants to win and get the crystal. He knows it’s not 144 guys, he knows it’s not the Masters, but still, winning is winning. It means a lot. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if he lost and it’s not the end of the world since he won, but it still means a lot.”

Even Foley, who flew home Friday and was the one who suggested Woods try his old “poa annua” putting grip on Sherwood’s surfaces, embraced the progress over the perceived significance of the victory.

“I’m just glad for him,” Foley said. “He has been through a lot and I am extremely proud of him.”

For those waiting to see what Woods would do when he finally got back up, the answer came in a flurry of fist pumps and clutch putts on Sunday.

But it wasn’t the line from a movie that sent Woods out into the Sunday fray. Before he teed off for his final turn he received a text message from a friend with the lyrics from an old-school LL Cool J song: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”

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:

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:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.