Tiger's focus returns to pain relief, not golf

By Will GrayApril 21, 2017, 1:43 am

A year that began with such promise for Tiger Woods has been reduced to another lost cause.

When Woods announced Thursday that he had undergone his fourth back surgery in the last three years, it was not met with the surprise or shock of his previous declarations.

It has been clear for weeks, despite consistent claims that he was close, or progressing, or grinding, that something was amiss.

The back spasms that caused him to withdraw from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February were supposed to last days, and instead bled into weeks and now months. With no end in sight, Woods has essentially pulled the plug on any hopes of playing the rest of the year and delivered another significant blow to the notion that golf fans will ever see him on top of his game again.

At age 41, after a number of reinventions and having spent more time on the disabled list than inside the ropes since 2014, Woods has arrived at another crossroads. While the glimmer that he’ll return to form still shines among his most ardent supporters, a more objective view indicates that we have likely seen the last of a once-great player.

From here on out, it’s all a bonus.

Woods alluded to as much during his funereal news conference at the 2015 Hero World Challenge, although at that point most people in the room – and perhaps Woods himself – assumed he was talking about wins, maybe contending in majors.

But given his latest plight, each competitive start he manages from this point forward should be viewed as an unexpected gift for fans to treasure.

Timeline: Look back at Woods' injuries

“The purpose of this surgery is to eliminate the bad days,” Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, told GolfChannel.com. “He knows he’s got a long road, but there’s a huge sense of relief right now.”

Although the news release about the surgery on his website included only a single quote from Woods, it was a telling one.

“The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said. “When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long.”

In previous iterations, the part about competing professionally might have been placed a bit higher. But Woods’ quote seems like an accurate reflection of where he now stands. His body is broken, and this time the top priority, according to Steinberg, is to regain a “healthy, active lifestyle.”

Right now, that might mean spending time with children Charlie and Sam in the backyard more than plotting a path to major No. 15.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Woods is firmly entrenched in middle age, with two kids by his side who clearly serve as a beacon of positivity in his life.

But it’s a far cry from the on-course goals he set months ago, when he carved out an ambitious schedule that included four worldwide starts in a five-week span.

After so many rushed returns from injury and aborted comeback attempts, it seemed Woods had finally taken the conservative path by sitting out nearly all of 2016. When he returned in the Bahamas in December, his game showed signs of progress and he sounded as optimistic as he had in years.

But that optimism lasted all of three rounds, as he limped away from Dubai just as he had at Torrey Pines, or PGA National, or Firestone in recent memory.

And now he’s back to square one.

Steinberg explained that Woods has been consulting with various doctors “over the past several weeks,” and that once he lost hope of a return at the Masters he zeroed in on this latest procedure as his best, long-term solution.

“His entire emphasis is on quality of life,” Steinberg said. “That includes living day-to-day pain-free, playing with his kids, playing competitive golf, going out in the backyard and having fun with his friends. Getting on his boat and doing what he wants in the water. It’s all of that.”

Woods is no longer a former champion trying to find his way back to the top of the mountain. Those days of reps, feels and release patterns are in the rear-view mirror.

Instead, he’s a man – one whose body has ached for far too long, one who has spent months seeking treatment without discernible improvement. He is a father who wants to be able to play with his kids for the next decade and beyond.

At some point in the grand scheme of things, thoughts of golf and competitive glory can re-enter the picture. But after this latest setback, that day seems farther away than ever.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: