There seems to be a new normal for Tiger Woods

By Rex HoggardFebruary 16, 2012, 12:01 am

Welcome to the new normal.

It’s a strange world where red shirts and conventional wisdom no longer hold sway the way they once did. A land that no longer yields to Tiger Woods’ will by way of clutch putts and on-cue histrionics, and where the status quo is suspect, at best.

Woods’ schedule used to be one of the game’s most guarded yet predictable lineups. Most years, barring injury, he’d start at Torrey Pines, check in at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before moving on to Doral, Bay Hill and finally the Masters.

The summer months featured similar clockwork: The Players Championship, Quail Hollow, Memorial, et al, not that he ever committed to an event before the deadline. Not that he needed to. If nothing else, Woods was a creature of habit.

For the last few months, however, it seems as if Tiger Inc. is operating under new management.

The year began at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, his first start in the oil-rich Emirate, and on Tuesday Camp Woods revealed he would play the Honda Classic for the first time since his amateur days.

The Honda Classic was a long-rumored natural fit for Woods, a recent Martin County transplant, but to do so would mean playing three consecutive weeks and four events in five weeks, which has been akin to competitive kryptonite for a man who has never played more than 21 events in a single season and no more than 17 in a year since 2007.

“Eighty to 90 percent of his decision (to play the Honda Classic) was tied to Tiger being a resident here,” said Ken Kennerly, the Honda Classic’s executive director. “He almost never plays three in a row. For him to add this event for any other reason than being a local is a stretch.”

The fact that the Honda Classic is played on a golf course (PGA National) that is minutes away from Woods’ new south Florida digs and benefits one of Jack Nicklaus’ charities also likely factors into his decision. Not that Kennerly cares what motivated him to make the drive over from Jupiter Island.

Late last season when Woods added the Open, a fall series stop, to his schedule some speculated it was because he wanted to land an endorsement deal from electronics giant John Fry. When he played last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in a decade some thought it was an attempt to appease AT&T, which also sponsors Woods’ AT&T National event in July.

But to tournament directors from Palm Beach Gardens to Pebble Beach the 'why' is not as important as the 'what'.

“I Googled Honda Classic and Tiger Woods this morning and it had over 1 million hits,” Kennerly said. “It’s worth over $1 million, I believe that. Just look at what has already happened with the brand of Honda over the last 24 hours. The exposure has been amazing.”

Kennerly also estimates that Woods’ presence at PGA National in two weeks could mean an additional 20,000 more fans, which would dramatically increase the amount he and his organization can donate to charity.

Even better news for those who have found themselves adrift in the Tiger Woods lottery in recent years, Woods may not be done mixing and matching a schedule that was once as predictable as the four seasons.

“I got what (commissioner Tim Finchem) wanted us to do is to play different events each year, and I did that this year (2011), and I see no reason why I'm not going to do that next year. That's a double negative, isn't it?” Woods laughed when asked about his 2012 schedule late last year.

“How about this, I will play a new event next year. So that's something that I think is good for the Tour. So I'm going to do that for sure.”

Whether that new event is the Honda Classic, which he played in 1993 as an 17-year-old amateur, seems unlikely, which would set the stage for even more schedule deviations.

Whether his motivations for adding events is driven by business or competitive concerns doesn’t really seem to matter, at least not to those who benefit from his appearance.

“This is Tiger really showing the community some love,” Kennerly said.

Basically, this is Woods trying something different. Basically this is the new normal.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.