Yet Another Detour for Tiger

By Rex HoggardMay 14, 2011, 3:11 am
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With a swing straight out of cold storage, on a knee in desperate need of a cold compress, Tiger Woods grimaced his way to another early exit at The Players Championship on Thursday and sent a chill down the collective spines of the PGA Tour hierarchy.

For the second consecutive year Woods didn’t put in a full week at TPC Sawgrass, done in this time by an ailing left knee and Achilles that he injured during last month’s Masters.

On Tuesday Woods said he didn’t know what to expect from his injured left leg. It took him just one swing to find out on Thursday.

“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,” said Woods, who withdrew after nine holes at 6 over par, 14 strokes behind first-round leader Nick Watney and lost on a leaderboard that featured 78 scores of par or better. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods speaks with the media after his WD. (Getty Images)

At the fourth hole the chain began unraveling. From the left rough he hit his approach into a water hazard, from the drop zone he found the same water hazard and needed an 18 footer to salvage a triple bogey-7.

From there his game, and his health, seemed to deteriorate with each shot. There was a grimace when he pulled his approach shot left of the fifth green and a pained knee flex following his drive at No. 6.

Woods, who didn’t play last week’s Wells Fargo Championship while he rested his assorted injuries, said the wayward tee shot at No. 4 was related to his leg and by the time he chipped his third shot into a bunker at the par-5 ninth he was done.

All that remained was the paperwork and another surreal snapshot – this time of Woods climbing into his white Mercedes-Benz for the long, lonely drive back down Interstate-95.

He briefly visited the Tour’s fitness trailer, but that was more a formality than a form of treatment. Tour regulations require a player provide the circuit documentation for a withdrawal within 14 days. “Since 99 percent of the time the player has been working with our physio team they usually stop in there afterward and this note is provided by them,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s vice president of competitions.

Last year Woods withdrew seven holes into his final round at The Players with a previously undisclosed neck injury. By comparison this year was almost predictable.

A man who once lived by the mantra that he never showed up unless he was ready to win, rolled into north Florida this week having not touched a club since Augusta National. He played just nine holes on Tuesday and another nine on Wednesday and seemed out of sync from the outset of his opening round.

He was slow, almost sluggish. To put it in context, Kevin Na moves faster. To put it in perspective, he looked like a man doing Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a favor.

That he was playing TPC Sawgrass was a bigger surprise than his early exit. It’s now been a decade since he won the “fifth major” and a player who has etched out a Hall-of-Fame career by outworking his competition has become something of a part-time player, the byproduct of injury and off-course turmoil.

The mind may be willing, but not the body.

Asked if he was advised by his doctors not to play TPC Sawgrass, Woods said he was not. “They said I could play,” he said “The more rest the better it would be, obviously. It’s a big event.”

The tournament that is, not Woods’ withdrawal. Although the latter certainly qualifies as a happening. One source with knowledge of the injury said the bigger concern is the Achilles ailment, which are historically slow to heal and easy to reinjure.

A Tour trainer said it would take a “normal person” about eight weeks to fully recover from a similar injury. But, of course. Woods doesn’t have that kind of time, nor is he a “normal person.”

He now has three weeks before his next potential start at the Memorial, and just over a month before the U.S. Open. Make no mistake, the man who dismissed doctors’ orders to play the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg will be at Congressional the second week of June.

The only question is what will he bring to the season’s second major? Or even if he will be able to play Congressional?

The camp’s plan now is to wait. Asked if Woods intended to have a magnetic resonance imaging test done on his ailing left knee or Achilles his manager, Mark Steinberg, said via e-mail: “That is not the case. We are in the evaluating phase right now and will determine the next steps.”

For all the concerns that were born from Woods’ off-course missteps in 2010, it was his slowly deteriorating health that should have concerned the powers in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the most.

Scandal, it now seems, he can deal with. A chronically ailing left leg and a swing that takes a toll with every turn, however, may be a different story.


Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.