Woods will be wise to take all the time he needs

By Rex HoggardNovember 4, 2015, 1:27 pm

Just before noon on Wednesday at his new Florida watering hole, Tiger Woods was scheduled to speak with the U.S. media for the first time since undergoing his second microdisectomy surgery.

He would have told the gathered scribes that it’s “certainly disappointing,” but that he anticipates a “full recovery,” because that’s what he said in a statement on his website following the September surgery, and no one stays on message better than Woods.

But Tiger was unable to explain any this on Wednesday at The Woods Jupiter because of another “procedure” last month to “relieve discomfort” in his back.

Instead, he is on “bed rest” and will also miss his final design visit to Bluejack National outside of Houston this week. He has subtly downgraded his immediate competitive outlook from “as soon as possible” next season to having “no timetable.”

Although that open-ended outlook isn’t what fans were hoping for, it may be the most forthright assessment Woods has served up in some time.

Considering the revolving door to the DL that has become Woods’ reality for the better part of the last decade, he’s played the PGA Tour minimum of at least 15 events just five times since 2006, a more measured comeback may be the best option.

“For a lot of high-level athletes who have not come back to the level of performance that they had once had it is because they were in a rush to get back,” said Randy Myers, director of fitness at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort. “Not Tiger specifically, but in general. You’ve never heard a Tour player say he waited too long to get back.”

Click here for a timeline of Tiger Woods' injury history

Myers has seen the phenomenon repeated early and often – from Davis Love III, who underwent spinal-fusion surgery in 2013, to Brandt Snedeker, who has endured multiple hip surgeries, the long road to recovery far too often turns into a dangerous express lane.

This isn’t necessarily a Tiger problem as much as it is an athlete problem. Those who have spent a lifetime between the ropes are genetically averse to watching the action from the sidelines no matter how many voices preach caution.

Woods has certainly heard all the warnings, from his Utah surgeon to his fellow Tour players, including Love and Jason Bohn, who had the same microdisectomy surgery performed in 2008.

Bohn said he and Woods have discussed the unique set of challenges that come with back surgery, including the recovery timeline that Bohn said stretched for a full year before he felt “100 percent.”

“You’re body has changed and it will never be back to what it was,” Bohn said. “I don’t think it’s possible, scientifically, to get it back to exactly where it was. It could be better, it could be worse, but when you remove anything and cut anything, you’ve changed something.”

For Bohn, that meant rebuilding his golf swing with an eye toward avoiding similar injuries in the future. Woods has tried something similar, first teaming with Sean Foley and then Chris Como in an attempt to ward off continued issues with his back as well as his left knee.

Although Bohn and Woods are separated by 14 majors, there are more similarities than one would think between the two as patients if not players. Bohn was 35 when his ailing back sent him to the surgeon’s table (Woods is 39) and Bohn required three back surgeries (like Woods) to remedy the ailment.

Like Woods, Bohn also went through a major swing overhaul post-op.

“To a golfer who's done something his whole life a particular way, it’s like starting over,” Bohn said. “From the grip all the way to the rotation of the forearms, and every time you change one thing it reflects in another part of your game.”

Initially, Bohn – who won on Tour two years after surgery – said his rebuilt swing and back didn’t produce the same amount of power or consistency he was used to, but that evolved over time. He now says he’s a better “overall” player than he was before his assorted surgeries.

He also concedes that back surgeries, and the ensuing rehabilitation, do not come in one-size-fits-all helpings.

“Each individual recovers different from any type of surgery,” Bohn said.

Woods has referenced his general level of fitness as an advantage during the rehab process, although history suggests it may be a psychological Trojan Horse given his inability to stay out of the doctor’s office.

Woods won’t play his own Hero World Challenge, although he said he will be upright and in the Bahamas for next month’s event, which would be considered a victory of sorts. Depending on who you ask, wild speculation ranges from a return during next year’s Florida swing (Arnold Palmer Invitational) to an entire season on the bench.

But at this point it’s just that: wild speculation.

There was a melancholy edge to last Friday’s news that there had been a third procedure.

“There is no timetable for Woods’ return to the PGA Tour.” 

Yet what some see as a too open-ended outlook may mean a more open-minded Woods. If this most recent setback leads to a longer view, and probably a longer stint on the DL, it all may be worth the wait.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.