Welcome Back Edition

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
Its bad business to question Tiger Woods, like Ponzi Schemes and Chicago politics. One doesnt pull to within a Grand Slam of Jack Nicklaus Grand Slam haul with slipshod reasoning or bad mental mechanics.
Why the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship?
Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink
Last year at the Match Play event, Tiger put a beatdown on Stewart Cink. (Getty Images)
Why not?
As confounding as Woods decision may be to pundits, as perfect as Doral seemed for a comeback ' warm temperatures, flat course, no cut and deep water to hold Privacy ' when Eldrick T. makes a decision, Charles Schwab sits up for a listen.
There will be more speculation than spectators at Dove Mountain next week. Was it his relationship with title sponsor Accenture that wooed Woods from behind the Isleworth ivy? Was it a capricious format that favors the lucky more so than the on-form that ripped the happy father of two away from the play room?
Best guess ' he was ready. Thats it. No grand plan, no ulterior motives, just competitive simplicity.
Im now ready to play again, Woods said simply late Thursday on his Web site.
Its the only option that squares with the logic. From outside the circle, the Match Play is a square peg in a golf hole. The WGC is cold ' morning lows will be in the 40s next week ' and hilly and, well . . . in Tucson. As bulletproof as the man may seem, and last we saw he was whipping the golf world and Torrey Pines on one leg, he has lost in the first round before ' in 2002 to Aussie Peter OMalley, and in the second round, in 2005 to Aussie Nick OHern. If the bracket holds, hell peg it up against Aussie Brendan OJones . . . er, make that just Jones next Wednesday for the most anticipated two-ball since Rocco Mediate crashed the Monday party last June.
But then the tough-as-nails son of Earl Woods doesnt have that gear. You dont grimace your way to a U.S. Open title on a bad wheel with a, whatever happens, happens frame of mind. And you dont end an eight-month injury-induced hiatus based on a business relationship or flawed logic.
Caddie Stevie Williams hit it pure last year just moments after his man rolled in a 25-foot walk off to win at Bay Hill, He doesnt tee it up unless hes ready to win. I dont know why other players dont think the same way.
Point is Woods has 236 PGA Tour starts as a professional and he didnt tee off at a single one thinking, Just dont break any china. Its well-traveled territory, but Woods laid the ground work years ago, second sucks.
If the Match Play fits only in Woods mind, thats all the bases that need be covered. For Woods, match play is a competitive B-12 shot. The best Wednesday on Tour is just the tonic to feed Woods competitive jones. Eighteen mini-Sundays one player called it last year, and nobody pines for the adrenaline rush of Sunday more than Woods.
No, the question is not why the Match Play, but what can the world expect from a dusted off and dialed in Tiger Woods? Swing coach Hank Haney said in December that Woods was rusty, but that the knee was stronger than ever. History suggests absence makes Woods game that much better. In 13 starts after extended layoffs, including his three-month break between last years Masters and the U.S. Open, he has won seven times which could make him the best lead-off hitter in the history of sports.
For the rest of the PGA Tour, the fun and games are over. Woods gave the other half eight months to make hay. Some did (Padraig Harrington and the U.S. Ryder Cup team), some didnt (Phil Mickelson). Either way, the sport needs a healthy Woods.
Wed like a little more time without him, but it will be fun to see him play, Brandt Snedeker said. Golf needs him back right now.
Why the Match Play?
Why not? The only thing that matters is hes back.

Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.

Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard
Related Links:
  • The Roar is Back
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.