Woods Life Has Changed

By Rex HoggardAugust 9, 2010, 7:28 pm
2010 PGA ChampionshipOn Wednesday at Firestone Country Club, Tiger Woods, a man whose career has been defined by a flare for the dramatic, summed up a turbulent year with a grossly understated yet economically astute, “Life has changed.”

Woods was answering a question about his limited practice schedule this year, but the three words neatly wrapped up a life that has made the journey from Teflon to tormented in a single competitive calendar.

It was 12 months ago when the golf world was spinning upon a familiar axis. Woods, unstoppable at a major when pacing the field through 54 holes, was two clear of Padraig Harrington and someone named Y.E. Yang when the sun inched under the horizon at Hazeltine National. Eighteen holes, 75 strokes and 12 inexplicably eventful months later everything has changed.
Tiger Woods
The 2010 Woods seems to have lost his dominating edge. (Getty Images)
Shortly before last year’s PGA Championship, Paul Goydos was asked about Woods’ 54-hole record at majors, a perfect 14-for-14 when ahead but flawed to the extreme when trailing. “He’s never come from behind to win (a major)? Big deal, neither have I,” Goydos deadpanned at the time.

Since then, one of those two players has shot 59 in a PGA Tour event, the other is Woods.

Changing times, indeed.

Woods is still No. 1, at least on paper, but by any other measure the cup is wanting. Last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was Woods’ eighth start of 2010, the first time he’s been this deep into the calendar without a victory in more than a decade; he’s 85th in earnings, 119th in FedEx Cup points and his margin atop the world ranking has slipped to the point that not one but three players (Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker) can overtake him atop the pack when the dust and decimal points settle on Sunday in Kohler, Wis., site of this week’s PGA Championship.

Despite his tie for 78th at Firestone, his worst Tour finish as a pro, Woods remains optimistic about his game, if not his PGA title chances. And, at least in a historical context, that optimism is rooted in former performances almost as much as it is current form.

“I think I can turn it around,” he said Sunday before making his way to Whistling Straits. “I’m just going to be ready for Thursday.”

Of the 17 events Woods has played after the Open Championship since 2006 he’s won a dozen times and had four runner-ups. By comparison, in the 31 events he’s played before the U.S. Open since ’06 he has 10 victories and three runner-ups.

He may have made history at the Masters (1997) and U.S. Open (2000 and 2008), but from a competitive point of view the dog days seem to bring out the best in Woods.

Some of the Southern Cal native’s post-Open Championship success can be attributed to the summer heat, and the notion that whatever swing flaws Woods was dealing with had been sorted out via the reps of spring and early summer.

For Woods, however, it is the familiarity and fondness for many late-season ballparks like Firestone, where he’s won seven times, that give him his late-in-the-year boost.

“I love playing (Firestone). I believe that some of those wins were actually at (the Buick Open) as well, which I like that golf course, as well,” said Woods, who failed to finish in the top 4 at Firestone for the first time in 11 starts. “It was a lot to do with the venue. I think in my career I've played pretty good on certain venues.”

Although Whistling Straits, where Woods finished tied for 24th at the 2004 PGA Championship, may not have the same caché as Firestone, his four Wanamaker Trophies account for nearly 30 percent of his Grand Slam haul to date, compared to three victories apiece at the U.S. and British Opens.

All things considered, “Glory’s Last Shot” is still Goliath’s last, and best, chance to get off the schnide and salvage what has been a forgettable 2010.

If others have reached a point of panic Woods remains resolute, if not realistic given the turmoil in his life. Or perhaps Woods’ optimism is born from experience. In 2004 he failed to win a stroke-play event for the first time in his career and in 1998 he managed just a single “W.” Both droughts were followed by career years of six (2005) and eight (1999) victories.

“Just be patient, keep working, keep going,” Woods said last week. “I've been through periods like this before. And I just have to keep being patient, keep working, keep building, and keep putting the pieces together, and when they do come, when they do fall into place, that's usually when I will win a few tournaments.”

Whether those pieces fall into place in time to salvage the meanest of seasons this week in Wisconsin likely depends less on Woods’ wayward driving or balky putter, the most common culprits in the stalled comeback, and more on his life outside the ropes, an existence turned upside down by the events of Nov. 27.

Woods has, however reluctantly, acknowledged the impact his personal life has had on his game.

“It’s not only concentration, but it's also preparation and then also my preparation out here,” Woods said. “But things are starting to normalize, and that's been a good sign.”

CBS Sports analyst David Feherty, a man who has battled his share of off-course demons, said it best in a recent interview. “There’s nothing wrong with his swing. There’s nothing wrong with anything except the head full of slamming doors that you have when you go through a divorce – especially when there’s children involved.”

By almost every measure, 2010 has been a year of change for Woods, a man who savors the status quo even more than the familiarity of the Tour’s late-summer fairways. How quickly life returns to something close to the norm will ultimately decide how the endless summer is remembered.

Last Wednesday in a final moment of understated clarity, Woods seemed to realize how much has changed since last year’s PGA Championship. “It has been a long year,” he said.

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.