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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry