Dueling HiDefs in a local Uno’s restaurant were simultaneously airing reports on Tiger Woods (ESPN) and John Daly (ESPN2) late Thursday, a reality that stretches the validity of the old maxim that any publicity is good publicity.
From Steve Williams’ curious televised two-step and Ian Poulter’s single-fingered salute to the “Bird’s Nest” to John Daly’s 10-digit prank, golf had a “Blue Collar Radio” feel to it this week.
A return. The white-haired lady who pushes me my grande Americano each morning doesn’t know a “U groove” from a “U turn,” but she couldn’t resists asking the $1 million question this week: “When is Tiger coming back?”
The answer, of course, is when he’s ready. But that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to make two plus two equal four. Woods’ path back, after all, is littered with clues.
He is out of rehabilitation, tirelessly plowing through range pellets at Isleworth and, according to Charles Howell III, making it look as easy as ever. Per his “MO,” Woods prepares for the majors with swing coach Hank Haney at home, plays a Tour event to get in the desired “reps” and ultimately fine tunes back at home for a week before hitting the major trail.
Check the timing, he has about two weeks before his title defense at Bay Hill followed by a traditional off week (Shell Houston Open) and the Masters.
A Bay Hill return would be great for the game, but even better for Woods because it means he has successfully navigated the difficult path from therapy to real life, a place where actions, not words, count.
Of course, I’ve been wrong in the past.
Oh, Canada . . . and Mahan. At about the same time Hunter Mahan was putting the finishing touches on his second Tour title at TPC Scottsdale, “Team H” was torn between the desert and the ice.
Swing coach Sean Foley and physical trainer Craig Davies are Canadian like potent beer and socialized medicine, so Sunday was a big day on two fronts as Mahan prevailed in Scottsdale and the Canadian men’s hockey team outdueled the United States in golden overtime.
“It was close,” said Davies, who missed both Sunday bouts on a flight home to Orlando, Fla. “But impact-wises, the gold medal was huge. Canada could have set medal records and it wouldn’t have mattered if we would have lost the gold medal game in hockey.”
Foley, part swing coach, part philosopher, was slightly less patriotic when asked which victory was more meaningful?
“Hunter’s win was bigger,” Foley said. “That Canadian Olympic team should be winning at hockey.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Oh, Rickie. Baseball wonks call it pitching to contact, code for a pitcher who is confident in his own stuff as well as the abilities of his defense. On Sunday at TPC Scottsdale we watched one of the game’s brightest rising stars avoid “contact” like a three-10 split.
Whatever Rickie Fowler’s reasoning for laying up on the par-5 15th hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and you have to give him credit for having a plan and staying with that blueprint, the episode turned a potentially defining moment into a chorus of double-takes.
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said it best, “He denied us the moment.” Fowler owes “us” nothing of course, but one can’t help but think he shortchanged all that talent.
Orient Express. The Tour added to its burgeoning Asian portfolio last week, announcing the addition of the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic to the Fall Series.
The event will be played Oct. 28-31 in Malaysia, a week before the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, and will extend the circuit’s reach into a growing market. All of which is great stuff, grow the game, get on a plane, but the truth and the timing of all this will result in a field something south of the Isleworth member-member.
Tweet of the week. @ianjamespoulter “To address the 16th (hole at TPC Scottsdale), great hole, great atmosphere, but I was getting something off of my face. Will I play next year? He’ll (sic) yes loved it.”
Criticize Poulter all you want for his “inappropriate actions,” but it’s safe to say none of the thousands crowded around the zoo-like 16th were offended.
John Daly. No, not for the litany of reasons that made this week’s unearthing of Long John’s 456-page personnel file a must-read. We’ve covered that ground.
JD lands in the “Cut Line” dog house because he took the golf writer who unearthed his sordid past to task, going so far as to call him a “jerk” and a “non-journalist” and posting the scribe’s cell phone number on his Twitter account and encouraging his fans to harass the writer.
Alcoholism we can forgive. Shameless self-promotion can be dismissed. But childishness doesn’t wash off.
Steve Williams. On the same week we learned Woods was out of rehab and back searching for answers in the Isleworth dirt, the world No. 1’s looper took what seems to be a few ill-advised hacks at his boss.
“Of course I’m mad at him, why would you not be?” Williams told New Zealand’s “60 Minutes.” “I’m close with his wife and he’s got two lovely children and he’s let them down. When a guy’s having a tough time, it’s not up to me to beat him with a stick right now. He’s getting enough grilling from everybody else.”
Williams is a good caddie. Maybe the best of his generation, but with his man on the ropes and more scrutiny to come the Kiwi seems to need a refresher course in the caddie credo: show up, shut up and keep up.