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.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.