Odd man out?

By Rex HoggardNovember 2, 2011, 10:53 pm

The golf landscape has been littered with more grassy knolls of late than Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.

First it was Ballotgate and the PGA Tour’s curious decision to delay the release of the Player of the Year vote until after this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, and now it seems the conspiracy theorists have started to dissect Tuesday’s announcement that John Cook would replace Michael Jordan as an assistant captain at this month’s Presidents Cup.

On its surface, the decision to have Cook step in for MJ quacks and swims like a duck. Jordan, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, said the decision to step down as official walkie-talkie carrier was based on the ongoing NBA lockout.

“With the NBA labor situation unsettled, I feel it is necessary that I remain in the country,” Jordan said.

And Cook seems an obvious enough choice to join Jay Haas as an assistant at Royal Melbourne. The 11-time Tour winner never participated in a Presidents Cup, but he played in one Ryder Cup (1993) and is almost a contemporary to the veteran members of the U.S. team.

Some sources, however, have suggested the move is more convoluted than that. When U.S. captain Fred Couples announced his wild-card picks last month – Tiger Woods and Bill Haas – he also noted that Keegan Bradley would be the first player off the bench if Steve Stricker, who has been slowed this fall by a neck ailment, can’t play.

Stricker has been at home in Wisconsin since the Tour Championship resting and undergoing intense therapy for a herniated disk in his neck, but in an interview last week with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he did not sound like a man convinced he would be on the first tee Nov. 17.

“My left arm feels a little bit different than my right. Opening a jar at home or whatever, I don't feel like I have the finger strength,” said Stricker, although he also added, “My arm would have to be falling off for me not to play.”

Despite those comments Bradley’s camp has indicated he will not make the trip to Australia unless he is “invited,” a fact that led some to believe that Tuesday’s move to bring Cook Down Under was Couples’ plan B.

As recently as 2006 Cook played a full Tour schedule, he finished in third place at this year’s Mayakoba Golf Classic and, perhaps more importantly, maintains a good relationship with Woods.

If for some reason Stricker – who teamed with Woods in 2009 to lead the U.S. side with a perfect 4-0 record – can’t play, having Cook come out of the bullpen could be a viable option for Couples.

When asked on Tuesday if he would consider running Cook, or Haas, in from the bench Couples didn’t even know that was an option. “That’s a heck of a question,” he said.

According to the captain’s agreement for the matches, “in the event of illness, injury or any other emergency, a team member may be replaced prior to 6 p.m. local time, Wednesday of tournament week. The captain will have the ability to select any eligible player to replace a player who has withdrawn, regardless of his standing on the respective point or money list used to determine eligibility.”

When informed either Cook or Haas could step in Couples seemed open to the idea. “I would have to get the grace of the guys on the team, but I would not want one of Norman’s guys to have to sit,” he said.

After Wednesday’s 6 p.m. deadline neither captain would be allowed to replace an injured player in the lineup. After that Norman and Couples will submit an envelope with a player’s name. In the event of an American withdrawal, for example, the player listed in Norman’s envelope would sit out the matches and the points would be split.

Lost in that contingency plan is Bradley, a Tour rookie who won twice this year and is the only American to claim a major in 2011. Why wasn’t the PGA champion offered a spot in Couples’ team room?

Sergio Garcia served as an assistant to Colin Montgomerie at last year’s Ryder Cup and European captain Nick Faldo tabbed than-up-and-coming star Martin Kaymer for a special “assistant” role during the 2008 matches.

Garcia spent the week in Wales as a glorified cheerleader, but used the experience to emerge from a prolonged slump and is on track to make next year’s team; while Kaymer went on to become world No. 1 and played a key role for the European team in 2010.

Couples said he has not spoken to Bradley since he made his picks and when asked if he considered offering him a spot as a special assistant, like Garcia and Kaymer, he pointed out, “Sergio asked to be there. They didn’t call Sergio. If Keegan were to call me I would fall down backwards to have him there.”

“If (Stricker) calls me tomorrow (and says he can’t play) I will fly to Keegan’s house and tell him (he’s on the team),” said Couples, who is limited to two assistant captains.

Knowing Stricker this issue will likely become a non-story by the time the matches begin. If he can swing the club he will join Woods on the first tee at Royal Melbourne, and Couples was optimistic his star would be available.

“I’ve talked to Steve 30 times on the phone and on text messages the last month. He’s fine,” Couples said. “That’s why I called Steve 100 times; I hate having to ask him, ‘How’s your back?’ But he tells me he will be ready. . . . I’ve had back issues in my life and when someone tells you he can play that’s good enough for me.”

But if there’s a chance, however slim, that Stricker can’t play it seems Couples missed his chance to expose Bradley to the cup atmosphere and give himself an insurance policy in the event someone can’t play. This isn’t a conspiracy by any measure, just a missed opportunity.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

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Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

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Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm