Golf world in shock as Woods takes indefinite break
John Daly sympathized as the worldwide media continued to pile up accusations of infidelity, Annika Sorenstam lamented a family tragedy and Colin Montgomerie noted dryly that golf’s big prizes just became a little more accessible.
These are tumultuous times for golf after Friday’s announcement by its No. 1 player that he is taking time out following two weeks of allegations of extramarital affairs. Woods and his wife, Elin, have been married five years and have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.
“There was an aura, and that wall, if you like, has been split slightly,” said Montgomerie, Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup captain. “There are cracks, and I feel that it gives us more opportunity of winning these big events now.”
Next year could have been one of the biggest in Woods’ career, with three of the four majors played at courses on which he has triumphed by large margins.
Instead, golf is preparing for another spell without its biggest superstar. Woods’ absence from the PGA Tour for much of last season because of reconstructive knee surgery led to a drop in television ratings of 50 percent.
“Indefinite is a scary word,” former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. “That’s not good for us. But I’m sure he’ll get it worked out.”
Woods so far seems intent on doing so without help from his fellow professionals.
“He just didn’t want to talk to anybody,” Daly said at the Australian PGA on Saturday. “I’m in shock over it all, a lot of our players are in shock. I’m not happy with the way some of our players have responded – that’s their way of getting back because they know they can’t beat him at golf.
“They always say there is no one bigger in golf than the game itself. But Tiger is.”
Craig Parry was finishing his third round at the Australian PGA when he heard about Woods’ decision to step aside.
A friend of Woods who lives nearby in Windermere, Fla., Parry played alongside him for the first two rounds of last month’s Australian Masters in Melbourne – Woods’ final tournament before his car crash and subsequent accusations of infidelity.
“What he did was totally wrong,” Parry said. “And he’s got no one to blame except himself. You can look at other people, but he’s the one who’s got to look in the mirror.”
And in the newspapers, Saturday brought a fresh round of headlines all over the world.
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport featured a cartoon showing a golf bag containing six bare female legs in high heels and two clubs.
German tabloid Bild continued to print salacious details of the scandal, but added on its Web site that it hoped “Tiger is as successful as on the golf course” as he tries to repair his marriage.
“For years to come he will be a figure of fun to comedians great and small,” said Peter Allis, the BBC’s chief golf commentator for more than 30 years. “We were told for years that his father stood by the side of the green throwing pebbles in buckets of water, shouting and blowing whistles to make him oblivious to all these noises.
“Now we have to see how strong his mind is.”
Although Michelle Wie refused to comment at the Dubai Ladies Masters on what she said was a private matter for Woods, former top-ranked LPGA star Sorenstam told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet she was saddened by the news.
“I think this whole thing is tragic,” she said. “We used to train together, but both myself and Tiger have been very busy lately and therefore haven’t seen, or heard from each other as frequently.”
Daly, who has been married four times, cautioned Woods and his wife, Elin, to remain together for the right reason. He said Woods should consider a television interview to limit damage to his image.
“If I was him, I’d go to Oprah, I would get on her show, tell the truth and it doesn’t matter what the media say any more, because it’s all out in the open,” Daly said.
Veteran British publicist Max Clifford agreed.
“Hopefully he can go on something like Oprah, maybe even with his wife, to show that they’re making a real go of it,” Clifford said. “The clever move would be for him to say, ‘I’m coming back when Elin tells me the time is right.”’
For now, Woods is communicating publicly only through carefully worded statements on his Web site.
Earlier this year, he became the first athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings, according to Forbes magazine. His sponsors include Nike, Gillette, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer.
Nike, which signed a multiyear contract with Woods in 2006, is standing by the player.
“He is the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of his era,” Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast said in a statement. “We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike’s full support.”
And it isn’t just golfers who are thinking about Woods.
“One thing people don’t understand is that we’re human,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said in Miami. “You’re not born with a menu on how not to do things wrong. You’re going to make mistakes like every human being. It’s just unfortunate that you’re in the public eye so much and a lot of people get hurt by it.”
Bobcats forward Stephen Jackson wished Woods the best.
“Sometimes you just got to take time out to reflect on what’s more important, and that’s family,” he said after Charlotte’s 104-85 loss in San Antonio.
AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa in Coolum, Australia, AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome, AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami and Associated Press Writer Paul J. Weber in San Antonio contributed to this report.
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.
Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.
Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.
The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.
On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.
Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.
He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.
In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.
Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.
This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.
Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.
Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.
The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.
Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.
Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.
“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.
“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.
Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.
Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.
“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”
Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.
“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”
Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.