Mixed Bag

By Rex HoggardJuly 2, 2010, 4:00 am

2010 AT&T NationalNEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – As news cycles go this one certainly qualified as a mixed bag for one Eldrick T. Woods.

Let the record show in less time than it takes to complete some matches this year at Wimbledon the world No. 1 has been linked to media reports regarding:

– A divorce settlement with wife Elin Nordegren in the London Sun on Wednesday. According to the report Woods will have joint legal custody of the couple’s children, but Nordegren would get physical custody, and she will end up with a cash and property settlement worth $750 million.

– A New York Times report that said Woods met with federal authorities regarding their investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea who has been accused of distributing human growth hormone. According to Woods after his opening round at Aronimink Golf Club the meeting occurred last week in Orlando, Fla., and lasted “a couple hours.”

“I cooperated and answered all their questions,” Woods said and his agent Mark Steinberg told the Associated Press via an e-mail that his client was not the subject of any criminal investigation.

– A Golf Digest Q&A with Hank Haney during which Woods’ former swing coach said his relationship with Woods “didn’t get dysfunctional; it always was dysfunctional.”

– And, finally, in a completely related item, a card that featured 30 putts, just over half his fairways hit and a bogey-par-bogey-double bogey-sloppy par finish here in this leafy Philly suburb that added up to an opening-round of 3-over 73.

Not that golf really matters right now. Salacious matters.

Headlines haven’t spoiled a good walk so thoroughly since George Bush No. 1 was roaming the hallways of the White House and the fairways of Kennebunkport.

For so many years golf wanted mainstream only to discover that mainstream can be mean. Not that Woods doesn’t deserve some measure of his tabloid plight. It’s just that this week’s free-for-all has the feeling of piling on.

Bad news rarely picks a time of our choosing, but here, at a tournament that has brought out the best in Tiger the person as well as Tiger the player, the litany of PR bombs has the feel of karma getting even, or overly creative during a slow news day.

AT&T National has always been a salute to Woods’ father, Earl, and his close connection with the military, and a charitable foundation that, despite the founder’s imperfections, is almost as influential for wayward children as Woods’ resume is historic.

With the move to Aronimink this year and in 2011 officials changed the winner’s trophy to a replica of the Liberty Bell. Perhaps they should have opted for a replica of Rocky given how many times the tournament’s pseudo-host has been on the mat the past few months.

On Nov. 27 we started learning the man was not perfect. In the weeks since he began “The Comeback” we’re coming to grips with the reality that his game isn’t the stuff of Teflon right now either.

But then this much was as predictable as an Aronimink chipping swale, what with headlines like “A hero & a bum at the same time” waiting for him in the morning paper.

The Twitter take on Woods’ opening round: Hit it well enough, couldn’t buy a putt. See: Beach, Pebble sans the “awful” Poa.

Of course it’s hard to imagine a player, even a once-in-a-generation guy like Woods, putting the blinders on for a 66 as the fishbowl gets smaller by the headline. Some people compartmentalize in situations like this, Woods may need to build a castle if he’s going to weather the storm that continues to build.

The question isn’t where he is in the comeback, the question is where he is as Rome crumbles.

When the fourth or fifth most-pressing question for Woods is which club he knocked into the pond at the 17th hole golf is no longer an escape, it’s background noise.

We recently asked one Tour sports psychologist what pro bono advice he would offer Woods in his time of need? Wouldn’t know what to say, was the answer.

Woods was asked Thursday afternoon if it was hard to focus on golf given everything going on his life? “I’ve ran a few tournaments over the years,” he answered, either missing the point or making the most of an opportunity to duck a difficult question. Either way, the answer makes one wonder if there’s enough steely resolve within that red shirt to shoulder through all the clutter and do what he does best – win.

St. Andrews in two weeks had the feel of a fitting first given his track record on the Old Course, but then the British press promises to be even more pointed then their American cousins. All of which would make a third Open Championship victory at the Auld Grey Toon more than historic, it would be heroic on some level given the circumstances.

“Tiger’s an old 34, no doubt about it. It’s good and it’s bad,” Haney told Golf Digest. “On one hand he has more experience; on the other hand maybe he sometimes feels tired of the whole thing. It’s a guess, really.”

And getting older with each news cycle.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?