Woods: 'Everything beyond this will be gravy'

By Rex HoggardDecember 1, 2015, 9:17 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – The parallels were impossible to ignore.

“It’s been tough to watch him go through the season he’s had, and it’s understandably so, he’s been there for 20 years,” Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at his own Hero World Challenge.

Woods was talking about the news that Kobe Bryant plans to retire after this season, but as anyone with even a passing interest in the world No. 400 could attest, the comment could just as easily have been directed at Tiger.

Following his second microdiscectomy operation in September after what could only be classified as another lost season, Woods appeared to be overly optimistic in a press release that estimated he could return in “early 2016.” 

A follow-up “procedure,” the details of which are still unclear, in October, however, undercut that optimism. On Tuesday there was no timeline, no silver lining, no end game and, at least for anything that would be considered long term, no game plan.

“That’s the hardest part for me is there’s really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards,” said Woods, who completed his 20th year on Tour with just a single top-10 finish in 11 starts in 2015.

Posnanski: Manning, Bryant, Woods forever linked

For a player whose career was defined by a singular certainty – winning – the unknown now looms over Woods with unrelenting obscurity.

Woods was asked the last time he swung a golf club, “About two months ago ... I hit a chip shot left-handed.” And how he’s filling his days. “I walk.” He plays videos games and pines to mix it up with his kids in the back yard.

And he misses golf.

“I really do miss it,” he allowed. “I miss being out here with the boys and mixing it up with them and see who can win the event.  That's fun.” 

Some have suggested that as the game has become increasingly difficult for Woods and favorable results fewer and further between, his interest in the day job would, perhaps understandably, wane.

Perhaps the most misunderstood element of the Woods persona is the idea that greatness came easily to him. What was lost in that analysis was that each tournament was always bookended by endless hours of practice and preparation.

It would be only logical to figure that with injuries and age and his daddy duties, the singular - maybe even selfish - drive that made him great would soften.

That theory gained momentum when Davis Love III announced two weeks ago that Woods had accepted a job as vice captain for next year’s Ryder Cup. It was seen in some circles as a sign, however obscure or unintended, that perhaps he was preparing for the next chapter in his career; that, through a litany of injuries, the end was much closer than the beginning.

That logic is at least partially flawed considering that Woods committed to the Ryder Cup in whatever role Love needed long before he went under the knife in September. In short, his commitment to the matches and any possible exit strategy from golf would very much be mutually exclusive.

But on Tuesday in paradise there was a gap in the fortress, a rare acknowledgment that this most recent injury carried a sobering uncertainty; that unlike his previous medical misadventures he would not be able to overcome this most recent setback through sheer force of will.

“Pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” said Woods, who turns 40 on Dec. 30. “For my 20 years out here I think I’ve achieved a lot, and if that’s all it entails, then I’ve had a pretty good run. But I’m hoping that’s not it.”

Although well short of a retirement speech, it was for Woods a rare nostalgic glimpse into the unknown that for two decades he avoided like three-putts and penalty strokes.

He talked of passing Jack Nicklaus on the all-time PGA Tour majors list and Sam Snead in total wins in the same breath as he considered what could be his second career as a golf course designer or perhaps a philanthropist. But most of all he envisioned spending quality time with his children.

“I miss being able to play with the kids,” he said. “I just can’t bend over that well or I’m not athletic to be able to do those things.”

Woods wants to compete again, he wants to win tournaments and play for Love next fall at the Ryder Cup and do all the things that came so naturally to the 30-year-old version; but that all depends on an injury that has frighteningly few answers right now. 

On Sunday after a 107-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Bryant told the media, “I’ve decided to accept that I can't actually do this anymore, and I'm OK with that. It takes a weight off my shoulders and everybody else’s.”

Woods isn’t there yet. He may not even be as close as some seem to think he is, but after 20 long seasons and three back surgeries the similarities between the two legends were impossible to ignore, with one heading into his golden years and the other drifting slowly toward the unknown.

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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