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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  • 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:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis – “A really tough loss to the @LPGA family. God just added a fantastic teammate in heaven. Thinking about you, Nat!”

    Christina Kim – “Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan.”

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews – “RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.”

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott – “Sad to hear that long-time tour caddie Greg Sheridan has passed away. Greg, you will be missed.”

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas – “The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes…Godspeed buddy.”

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee – “So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the U.S. Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you.”

    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.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.