How will Tiger Woods fare in his comeback

By Rex HoggardJanuary 9, 2009, 5:00 pm
It is hard, if not impossible, to pry inside a mind that dismisses excruciating pain and inexorable pressure with equal ease.
 
Will Tiger Woods make a full recovery from the knee-surgery that cut his 2008 campaign short? Anthony Kim said it best, “He’s not going to be worse.” Those expecting a lower gear will be disappointed when Woods unveils the 3.0 version sometime this spring.
 
What’s not as easily dismissed is Woods’ ability to weather the emotional uncertainty that is part and parcel with the prognosis and pain and procedures. Just ask Larry Nelson.
Tiger Woods 08 US Open Knee
Tiger Woods clutches his knee during the final round of the 108th U.S. Open at the Torrey Pines Golf Course. (Getty Images)
 
In 1984 Nelson was fresh off his U.S. Open victory at Oakmont, his second major haul in three years, when his right knee inexplicably began hurting. Surgery followed three months later and the doubt arrived shortly after the anesthesia wore off.
 
All total, Nelson’s career has been something of a series of medical miracles bookended by spectacular play.
 
A wrist ailment nearly derailed his golf dreams in the early 1980s. He was sidelined for 12 weeks this year with a finger injury and his Champions Tour career was delayed three months in 1997 because of a nerve injury in his neck. Although it is a dubious distinction, Nelson concedes he is something of an expert in dealing with the psychological and physical fallout that comes with injury.
 
“(In 1997) I didn’t know for sure if I was ever going to play again,” Nelson said. “The amount of time it takes to come back, that’s the depressing part. But if you really want to come back you will be OK. But you never really know.”
 
Woods’ swing coach Hank Haney spent a few days with Woods in late December and said the knee and swing looked good, if not a little rusty, and the 14-time major winner gave the golf world reason to be optimistic last month when he said his recovery was ahead of schedule.
 
“I'm actually stronger in my legs than I think I've ever been,” Woods said during last month’s Chevron World Challenge. “But still, you have to understand the healing process of the ligament. The ligament is only going to heal so fast, and you've got to be responsible for your actions, and I can't stretch that out.”
 
Davis Love III has also walked a similarly uncertain path. Prior to his 20th Tour victory at the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, Love had plummeted to 68th in the World Golf Ranking, the result of a left-ankle injury that limited his play in 2008.
 
The recovery process, Love has learned, works at an exceedingly slow pace, and there is no rushing the outcome.
 
“The torque that we put on our bodies, especially our lower bodies, that's why (Woods) is being so patient and going to have to be careful when he comes back,” Love said. “Tiger's knee is probably ready for a lot of stuff, but it's not ready for Tiger Woods' swing.
 
“That's the thing that’s going to be hard for Tiger, to pace himself back into it. As soon as they give us a ball and club, it's hard for us to not hit it. You got to work your way back into it.”
 
Work has never been a problem for Woods. But the injury has injected a degree of perspective into Woods’ portfolio. For the first time in his professional career, Woods has endured a brush with his own professional mortality.
 
“I could totally understand walking away from the game. I don't want to play when I know I can't play at this level,” Woods said. “That definitely gave me a better appreciation for my future and leaving the game of golf competitively.”
 
But as rumors swirl about Woods’ possible return to the competitive fray, it becomes clear the twilight can wait. Recent reports suggest he could be ready in time to defend his title at next month’s WGC-Match Play Championship and he talked about his explosive swing in almost reverential terms last month in California. After years of trying to play with a “soft leg,” Woods’ rebuilt ACL seems stable enough to withstand that 150 mph action.
 
“I did a lot of things to compensate for this leg, and just in the last couple weeks to be able to hit fuller shots, it's stable,” Woods said. “It was like, hey, this is what people actually play with; this is kind of nice.”
 
Physically, the man who endeavors to out-work his competition seems destined for a stronger, pain-free 2009. Whether the strongest mind in the game took a hit remains to be seen. But given the world No. 1’s resume, Kim’s assessment seems about right.
 
“I doubt very seriously there is any question in (Woods’) mind he will be back 100 percent. You always have that mind set,” Nelson said.
 

 
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    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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    Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

    LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

    Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

    He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

    ''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

    Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

    They were at 7-under 135.

    Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

    Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

    ''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

    He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

    McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

    ''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

    Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.