Woods' injury at Doral creates uncertainty

By Rex HoggardMarch 11, 2012, 11:50 pm

DORAL, Fla. – With one swing, Selection Sunday turned into Speculation Sunday.

These are the facts: Tiger Woods busted a drive 321 yards deep into Doral’s 12th fairway and proceeded to the nearest exit. His curt answer when asked by a PGA Tour official for a statement was, “Leg . . . left leg,” but a release was later issued clarifying the injury to his left Achilles tendon, which he has struggled with before.

In the moments before his withdrawal from the WGC-Cadillac Championship Woods grimaced after hitting his second shot on the par-5 10th hole and again on the 12th tee. Woods’ second shot at No. 10 dropped into a water hazard left of the green and he made a scrambling par at No. 11 from a greenside bunker.

Playing his third week in a row, and his fifth tournament this season, Woods was 3 over par and 10 strokes adrift of the lead. Doral marks the third time in three years Woods failed to go the distance at a marquee PGA Tour stop in Florida and opened a void of speculation that will not soon be filled. It also had a surreal déjà vu feeling to it.

In 2010 at The Players Woods also failed to put in a full work week, out after just eight holes on Sunday with an ailing neck he feared was a bulging disk that led to a lost month.

Less than a year ago Woods managed just nine holes at TPC Sawgrass, penciled in a 6-over 42 on the outward loop and bolted in a white Mercedes-Benz with an ailing left knee bound for a three-month stint on the DL.

The only difference on Sunday at Doral was the color of the Mercedes-Benz (black) and the direction he was headed on Interstate-95 (north). But he’s been here before.

Woods suffered a “mild strain to his left Achilles,” along with a ligament sprain in his left knee, hitting out of the pine straw under the Eisenhower Tree adjacent the 17th hole at Augusta National last year in Round 3 and sources suggested at the time that the ailment was much more concerning than his often-ailing left knee.

Physical trainer types agree an Achilles injury is fickle, slow to heal and easily re-injured, all of which made Woods’ statement even more worrisome.

“I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw,” Woods’ statement read. “In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary.”

Woods said he plans to have the Achilles “evaluated sometime early next week,” but that will do little in the short term to quiet speculation that had already reached a crescendo before Sunday’s leaders reached the turn at Doral.

How this most recent setback impacts Woods’ plans to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks and next month’s Masters remain to be seen, but for a player who had become something of a model of good health since his return at last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational it is a blow.

Asked on Saturday in South Florida how his current stretch of golf, which was scheduled to feature five events in seven weeks, had impacted him physically Woods was succinct: “Oh, it feels great.”

But even that is something of Woods’ modus operandi.

In 2010 at The Players he was asked if he was having any physical issues and his answer was, “No, zero. Absolutely 100 percent.” Two days later he withdrew, and a day before his early exit at Sawgrass last year Woods gave a similar response.

It is the nature of sport and a body that has spent more time under an orthopedic’s knife than one would like that injuries can, and often do, crop up. Truth be told Woods likely had more questions than the stunned Doral masses as he made his way home on Sunday.

His health, particularly his often operated-on left knee, has been a cornerstone of Woods’ comeback in recent months. It has been his ability to practice, almost as much as his work with swing coach Sean Foley, that has given Woods a reason to be optimistic.

At his season opener in Abu Dhabi Woods was in the hunt late into the final round and charged from nine strokes back last week at the Honda Classic with a closing 62 for his best official Tour finish since the 2009 BMW Championship.

Even as a windswept Sunday began in South Florida Woods’ galleries swelled with anticipation of another comeback. Woods was tied for 10th in driving accuracy through 54 holes with a swing that was starting to look controlled, almost clinical, but then he turned in 2 over, changed golf shoes and would be at home long before the trophy ceremony.

That sound you heard late Sunday afternoon emanating from South Florida was a collective gasp from the golf world. Well, that and yet another flight on approach to Miami International Airport.

Webb Simpson, who was paired with Woods on Sunday, noticed on Woods’ tee shot at No. 12 that he looked “really hurt.”

“He just said he's got to be done. It looked like he was in some pain,” Simpson said. “We didn't talk or anything so I'm not sure exactly what it was.”

Which put Simpson in a similar frame of mind to the rest us as innuendo replaced insight and speculation was replaced by a predictably vague statement. We’ve all been here before – Woods, the Tour, the fans. A world once defined by predictability has become pyrotechnic, and a comeback that finally appeared on track is on hold, again.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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