Pain in the Neck

By Rex HoggardMay 20, 2010, 2:51 am

Of all the drama that has permeated from Tiger Woods’ life the last two years – ACL surgery, bad driving, bad decisions – the most concerning episode, the one with the most far-reaching potential, was unveiled two Sundays ago at TPC Sawgrass.

A neck injury to a golfer is the professional equivalent of a staff ace with a blown out rotator cuff, a quarterback with one too many concussions, a NASCAR driver with Plantar fasciitis in his right foot. . . well, you get the picture.

If there is concern within Camp Tiger it couldn’t be found in the world No. 1’s preemptive press release last week. The Cliff’s Notes version is this: an MRI revealed Woods has an inflamed facet joint in his neck, not a bulging disc like Dr. Tiger suggested at The Players, there will be no surgery, just rest, anti-inflammatory medication and deep-tissue messages.

There was no return date set, but the release said, “The layoff is not expected to be extensive but can vary.” Translation: Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial likely lost its defending champion , but the Pebble Beach U.S. Open did not.

“Full recovery” the Team Tiger release said, which is good news for Woods, if not golf. It may also be a tad optimistic. One need to look no further than Sunday’s tee sheet at The Players to fully understand the possible impact of last week’s diagnoses.

“I know how he feels,” said Davis Love III, who has spent almost as much time in his orthopedist’s office as he has the practice tee with, among other ailments, a similarly inflamed facet joint. “It’s a scary feeling when your fingers are tingling and you’re hitting shots and getting headaches.”

Woods’ final-round playing partner at TPC Sawgrass had a unique perspective on Sunday, and could have offered some insightful, albeit unsolicited, advice. Jason Bohn has had multiple neck surgeries, was nearly side-lined for good when one of those procedures resulted in a sliced spinal cord and has dealt with the voices that inevitably come when one’s future in the game is suddenly left to the delicate tissues and bones of the neck.

“When he said it was his neck, I mean, I was just like, you've got to go. Just take care of yourself. Figure out what it is and make sure it doesn't turn into something terrible,” said Bohn who suffered from a fragmented disc in his neck. “I'm kind of glad that he doesn't take any chances. We don't need him to sit out any longer. We want him to come back and playing great golf.”

Most Tour trainers, many of whom have become jailhouse orthopedist over the years, concur with Woods’ prognosis. Rest and the proper rehabilitation should cure what ails the game’s alpha male, at least inside the ropes. And many have suggested that No. 1’s neck problem is at least indirectly related to his well-publicized off-course misadventures, but a neck injury, even more so than a completely rebuilt left knee, is a red flag on a no-go pin. A watch-list regular that may fade with time and rehab, but never fully mends mentally.

“When my neck goes out it feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife,” said Jimmy Walker, whose promising Tour career was slowed by a bulging disc at his first event as a rookie in 2005. “If you blow out your ACL you think, yeah, we can fix that. But with a back or neck injury it’s always there. If you lose feeling in your hands or fingers, that’s big in golf.”

Maybe the most telling insight into the uncertainty a neck injury can cause came courtesy Woods’ former swing coach Hank Haney, who pointed out in the wake of Tiger’s early exit from The Players that this was the same player who won the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg.

Woods has given us a lot of reasons to doubt him of late, but Torrey Pines should be the ultimate swing vote when it comes to any debate about his toughness. The guy is Steve Nash without the nose guard, which makes his TPC WD even more concerning.

Neck injuries play by different rules. It took years for Love to overcome his match with an inflamed facet joint. Physically, the 46 year old has never felt better, but the eggshell existence of being one awkward swing away from a relapse is the cost of doing business.

“I was just scared. Every time I hit a shot I could feel it in my head, it was tingling. It's disconcerting, certainly,” Love said.

Woods will recover from this. Always does. And, knowing his standard for secrecy, we may never speak of this again. But make no mistake, Woods will be thinking about it for a long time.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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