So Many Captains So Few Cups

By Associated PressDecember 30, 2003, 5:00 pm
When the Presidents Cup made its debut in 1994, captains Hale Irwin and David Graham were in their late 40s.
 
Since then, the PGA Tour has gone with more ceremonial figures -- Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus (twice), Ken Venturi, Peter Thomson (three times) and Gary Player.

Officials are said to be looking at younger captains (Fred Couples is a leading candidate for '05), which could present a problem for players who also want the Ryder Cup captaincy.

Do they take the Presidents Cup job at the risk of losing a chance to be captain of the more popular Ryder Cup?

The PGA Tour (Presidents Cup) and PGA of America (Ryder Cup) are competitive, and the PGA of America might not be inclined to settle for used goods.

'Guys are not going to mess up the Ryder Cup captaincy,' Davis Love III said. 'They're going to be very, very careful. If we want Fred to be Presidents Cup captain, he's going to go, 'Hang on a minute.' He'll call the PGA of America ... and say, 'What do you think my odds are?''

Couples said the PGA Tour has not contacted him about the '05 Presidents Cup, but that he would be interested.

'Can you imagine me captaining Davis Love and Tiger Woods? I think it would be fun,' Couples said. 'I would love to run these guys into the ground during practice rounds.'

But asked which cup he would rather be captain, Couples didn't hesitate.

'Oh, the Ryder Cup,' he said.

Love and Couples said they would like to see past Ryder Cup captains be in charge at the Presidents Cup, such as Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite or Curtis Strange.

Nick Price had another suggestion for 2005. Since the Presidents Cup in South Africa ended in a tie, why not bring back Nicklaus and Player to settle the score in Virginia?

'That would be a nice gesture, but it's the first I've heard of it,' Nicklaus said. 'I told the guys this is probably my swan song, but I also told Tim (Finchem), 'If you ever need me to do it again, I'm always available.' But I also don't want to shut anyone out. There's a lot of other guys who deserve to be captain.'

The PGA Tour probably will have to find one who has no chance of being captain at the Ryder Cup.
 
TOUGH TEST: Jim Furyk finished at 8-under 272 for a three-stroke victory at Olympia Fields, making this the first time in 16 years that the lowest score in a major came at the U.S. Open.

Mike Weir won the Masters in a playoff after he and Len Mattiace shot 7-under 281; Ben Curtis finished at 1-under 283 in the British Open; and Shaun Micheel was 4-under 276 at the PGA Championship.

Is the U.S. Open still the toughest test in golf?

Weir is partial, but he leans toward Augusta National because of the history.

'They're all different in their own way,' Weir said. 'The British Open was difficult because you could hit a good shot and not be rewarded for it. But I don't think there's any pressure like the back nine of Augusta on Sunday, as far as feeling history and what can happen.

'I don't think anything is more difficult.'

Scott Simpson's winning score in the 1987 U.S. Open was 277. The other winning scores in majors that year were 285 at the Masters (Larry Mize in a playoff), 279 in the British Open at Muirfield (Nick Faldo) and 287 in the PGA Championship at PGA National (Larry Nelson in a playoff).
 
FATHER & SON: Perhaps it comes from years of watching and teaching, but Earl Woods had no doubt his son was going to make a 15-foot par putt in the Presidents Cup playoff as soon as Tiger
Woods stroked the ball.

On every crucial putt -- the 8-footer for par on the 17th at Medinah in the '99 PGA Championship and the 6-footer to force a playoff at the '00 PGA Championship -- Earl Woods knows the routine.

'He will not remember having stroked the ball,' he said.
 
'When he's in his zone, in his putting procedure, you can time it with a stop watch. When he gets over the ball, watch him set the putter, check his alignment, adjust his feet, take one look, take another look, stroke.'

Two weeks later, Woods was asked what goes through his mind on pressure shots.

'Sometimes, I don't think of anything,' he said. 'I just go through my routine, know what I have to do and I just do it. The task is trying to get yourself to maintain the same routine so that it never varies. Put a stopwatch on the same time for every putt and every swing.

'A lot of times, I've hit shots and putts that I don't remember hitting because I'm on automatic pilot.'
 
RUDE WELCOME: Annika Sorenstam didn't start playing golf until she was 12, although she was around the game from the time she was born.

Still, she had reason not to feel welcome.

As young girls, Sorenstam and her sister, Charlotta, used to ride on pull carts while their parents played.

'The club where my parents were members didn't want juniors running around,' she recalled. 'When they made the turn, we would get money to buy ice cream and they told us to join them on the 13th hole, which came back to the clubhouse. And we would always go putt.

'We had this director of golf, this old general. He would sit by the window and come running out and say, 'I told you not to putt!' He would go back in, and we would sneak back out and putt.'

Sorenstam occasionally goes to the club whenever she's in Stockholm.

'When I go back and see him, I say, 'Can I putt now?''
 
Sorenstam said. 'He says, 'Yeah, go ahead.''
 
DIVOTS: The most famous pose of Jack Nicklaus is when he raises the putter as a crucial putt falls. Imagine his surprise when a 12-footer for eagle, which would have forced a playoff at the Father-Son Challenge, lipped out. 'I don't think I've ever raised my arm when it didn't go in the hole,' Nicklaus said. ...While the LPGA Tour season doesn't begin until March 11, select players will be meeting with commissioner Ty Votaw for two days of brainstorming in January.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Mill Creek Golf Club, the course in Ostrander, Ohio, where Ben Curtis grew up, has ordered 464 copies of 'The Open Championship 2003,' the official commemorative annual of the British Open. The population in Ostrander is 430.
 
FINAL WORD: 'Peace and quiet.' -- Annika Sorenstam, on the best thing she got for Christmas.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Woods' final round is highest-rated FEC telecast ever

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 9:05 pm

We've heard it a million times: Tiger Woods doesn't just move the needle, he IS the needle.

Here's more proof.

NBC Sports Group's final-round coverage of Woods claiming his 80th career victory in the Tour Championship earned a 5.21 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs and the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast in 2018 (excluding majors).

The rating was up 206 percent over 2017's Tour Championship.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Coverage peaked from 5:30-6PM ET (7.19) as Woods finished his round and as Justin Rose was being crowned the FedExCup champion. That number trailed only the 2018 peaks for the Masters (11.03) and PGA Championship (8.28). The extended coverage window (1:30-6:15 PM ET) posted a 4.35 overnight rating, which is the highest-rated Tour Championship telecast on record.

Sunday’s final round also saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (up 561 percent year-over-year), and becomes the most-streamed NBC Sports Sunday round (excluding majors) on record.

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Randall's Rant: Woods' comeback story ranks No. 1

By Randall MellSeptember 24, 2018, 8:40 pm

We’re marveling again.

This time over the essence of the man as much as the athlete, over what Tiger Woods summoned to repair, rebuild and redeem himself, after scandal and injury so ruinously rocked his career.

We watched in wonder Sunday as Woods completed the greatest comeback in the history of sport.

That’s how we’re ranking this reconstruction of a champion. (See the rankings below.)

We marveled over the admiration that flooded into the final scene of his victory at the Tour Championship, over the wave of adoring fans who enveloped him as he marched up the 18th fairway.

This celebration was different from his coronation, when he won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, or his masterpiece, when he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots in 2000, or his epic sweep, when he won at Augusta National in ’01 to claim his fourth consecutive major championship title.

The awe back then was over how invincible Woods could seem in a sport where losing is the week-to-week norm, over how he could decimate the competition as no other player ever has.

The awe today is as much over the transformed nature of the rebuilt man.

It’s about what he has overcome since his aura of invincibility was decimated in the disgrace of a sex scandal, in the humiliation of a videotape of a DUI arrest, in the pain of four back surgeries and four knee surgeries and in the maddening affliction of chipping yips and driving and putting woes.

The wonder is also in imagining the fierce inventory of self-examination that must have been grueling, and in the mustering of inner strength required to overcome foes more formidable than Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and today’s other stars.

It’s in Woods overcoming shame, ridicule, doubt and probably some despair to rebuild his life outside the game before he could rebuild his life in the game.

Woods may never let us know the detail or depth of those inner challenges, of what helped him prevail in his more spiritual battles, because he’s still fiercely private. He may never share the keys to rebuilding his sense of himself, but he’s more open than he has ever been. He shares more than he ever has.

As a father of two children, as a mentor to so many of today’s young players, there’s more depth to the picture of this champion today. There also is more for fans to relate to in his struggles than his success. There’s more of the larger man to marvel over.



The greatest comebacks in the history of sports:


1. Tiger Woods

Four back surgeries and four knee surgeries are just part of the story. It’s why Woods ranks ahead of Ben Hogan. Woods’ comeback was complicated by so many psychological challenges, by the demon doubts created in his sex scandal and DUI arrest. There was shame and ridicule to overcome on a public stage. And then there were the chipping yips, and the driving and putting woes.


2. Ben Hogan

On Feb. 2, 1949, a Greyhound bus attempting to pass a truck slammed head on into Hogan’s Cadillac on a Texas highway. Hogan probably saved his life throwing himself over the passenger side to protect his wife, Valerie. He suffered a double fracture of the pelvis, a cracked rib, a fractured collarbone and a broken ankle, but it was a blood clot that nearly killed him a few weeks later. Hogan needed 16 months to recover but would return triumphantly to win the 1950 U.S. Open and five more majors after that.


3. Niki Lauda

In the bravest sporting comeback ever, Lauda returned to grand prix racing 38 days after his Ferrari burst into flames in a crash in a race in Germany in 1976. Disfigured from severe burns, the reigning Formula One world champion was back behind the wheel at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth. He won the world championship again in ’77 and ’84.


4. Greg LeMond

In 1987, LeMond was shot and nearly killed in a hunting accident. Two years later, he won his second Tour de France title. A year after that, he won it again.


5. Babe Zaharias

In 1953, Babe Zaharias underwent surgery for colon cancer. A year later, she won the U.S. Women’s Open wearing a colostomy bag. She also went on to win the Vare Trophy for low scoring average that year.


6. Monica Seles

Away from tennis for two years after being stabbed with a knife between the shoulder blades during a match in Germany, Seles won in her return to competition at the 1995 Canadian Open. She was the highest ranked women’s tennis player in the world at the time of the attack.


7. Lance Armstrong

After undergoing chemotherapy treatment in a battle with potentially fatal metastatic testicular cancer in 1996, Armstrong recovered and went on to win seven Tour de France titles. Of course, the comeback wasn’t viewed in the same light after he was stripped of all those titles after being implicated in a doping conspiracy.


8. Mario Lemieux

In the middle of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins star underwent radiation treatment for Hodgkin disease and missed 20 games. Making a start the same day as his last treatment, Lemieux scored a goal and assist. The Penguins would go on a 17-game winning streak after his return and Lemieux would lead the league in scoring and win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.


9. Peyton Manning

Multiple neck surgeries and a spinal fusion kept Manning from playing with the Indianapolis Colts for the entire 2011 season. He was released before the 2012 season and signed with the Denver Broncos. He won his fifth NFL MVP Award in ’13 and helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in the ’15 season.


10. Bethany Hamilton

A competitive surfer at 13, Hamilton lost her left arm in a shark attack in Hawaii. A month later, she was surfing again. Less than two years later, she was a national champion.

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Woods' win makes us wonder, what's next?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 24, 2018, 6:35 pm

The red shirt and ground-shaking roars.

The steely glare and sweet swings.

The tactical precision and ruthless efficiency.

If not for the iPhone-wielding mob following his every move, you’d swear that golf had been transported to the halcyon days of the early 2000s.

The Tiger Time Machine kicked into overdrive at East Lake, where Woods won for the first time in 1,876 days and suddenly put two of the sport’s most hallowed numbers – 82 and 18 – back in play.

“I didn’t understand how people could say he lost this and lost that,” said Hank Haney, Woods’ former swing coach. “He is so good. He’s Tiger Woods. He’s won 79 times. If he can swing, he can win again.”

The only disappointing part of win No. 80 is that Woods will have to wait four months for another meaningful chance to build upon it. That’s a shame, because all of the pieces are in place for him to make a sustained run, and the Tour Championship might just be the start of an unimaginable final act.

A season that began with questions about whether a 42-year-old Woods could survive a full schedule with no setbacks ended with him saving his best for last, when his younger, healthier peers seemed to be gassed. Taking his recovery week by week, Woods ended up making 18 starts – his second-heaviest workload since 2005 – and never publicly complained of any discomfort, only the occasional stiffness that comes with having a fused lower spine.

Remember when Woods’ tanking world ranking was punch-line material? Now he’s all the way up to No. 13 – not bad for a guy who was 1,199th when he returned to competition last December at the Hero World Challenge. Nowhere close to reaching his 40-event minimum divisor, he’ll continue to accrue points and charge up the rankings, putting the game’s top players on notice.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


The victory at East Lake moves Woods only two shy of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour wins record (82), a goal that seemed unthinkable a year and a half ago, when he was bedridden following the Hail Mary fusion surgery. And for those wondering whether he’s capable of chasing down Big Jack, remember that Woods almost picked off two majors this summer, at Carnoustie and Bellerive, with a body and swing that was constantly evolving. 

Indeed, in an era of TrackMans and coaching stables designed to maximize a player’s performance, Woods has refreshingly gone back to his roots. It always seemed incongruous, watching the game’s most brilliant golf mind scrutinize down-the-line swing video, and so this year he has been a solo act, relying on old feels to guide his new move. The credit for this resurgence is his alone. 

Sure, there were growing pains, lots of them, and for months each tournament turned into golf’s version of Whack-a-Mole, as yet another issue arose. The two clubs that most consistently held Woods back were his driver and putter, but recent improvements portend well for the future.

After wayward tee shots cost him the PGA, Woods changed the loft and shaft on his TaylorMade driver. For years, even while injured, he violently attacked the ball in a vain attempt to hang with the big hitters. But these tweaks to his gamer (resulting in lower swing speed and carry distance) were a concession that accuracy was more vital to his success than power. His newfound discipline was rewarded: He ended the season with four consecutive weeks of positive strokes gained: off the tee statistics, and on Sunday he put on a clinic while Rory McIlroy, one of the game’s preeminent drivers, thrashed around in the trees. Woods is still plenty long, closing out his victory with a 348-yard rocket on 18, and from the middle of the fairway he can rely on his vintage iron play. 

His troubles with the putter weren’t as quick of a fix. Frustrated with his inconsistent performance on the greens, Woods briefly flirted with other models before rekindling his love affair with his old Scotty Cameron, the trusty putter with which he’s won 13 of his 14 majors. It’s exceedingly rare for a player to overcome the frayed nerve endings and putt better in his 40s than his 30s, but Woods was downright masterful on East Lake’s greens.

“It’s more satisfaction than anything,” said Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava. “People have no idea how much work he put into this.”

By almost any statistical measure, Woods’ season-long numbers suggest that he’s already back among the game’s elite – even after struggling to walk and swing for the past four years. He’s the best iron player in the game. He finished the season ranked seventh in strokes gained: tee to green. And after his normally stellar short game went MIA for a few years, his play around the greens appeared as sharp as ever.

And so on Sunday, while watching Woods school the top 30 players on Tour, even Johnny Miller got caught up in the latest edition of Tigermania.

“He’s not looking like he could win a couple more,” Miller said. “He’s looking like he could win A LOT more.”

Where Woods’ story is headed – to No. 1 in the world, to the top of Mt. Nicklaus, to the operating table – is anyone’s guess, because this comeback has already defied any reasonable logic or expectation.

He’s come back from confidence-shattering performances at Phoenix (chip yips) and Memorial (85) and even his own media-day event where he humiliatingly rinsed a series of wedge shots.

He’s come back from four back surgeries and pain so debilitating that his kids once found him face down in the backyard; pain so unbearable that he used to keep a urine bucket next to his bed, because he couldn’t schlep his battered body to the bathroom.

He’s come back from an addiction so deep that in May 2017 police found him slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes, five drugs coursing through his system, a shocking and sad DUI arrest that was the catalyst for this clear-eyed comeback.

All of the months of unhappiness and uncertainty nearly came pouring out afterward – the culmination of a remarkable journey from turmoil to redemption that ranks among the most unlikely in sports history. Woods fought back tears as thousands formed a big green mosh pit and chanted his name, a surreal scene even for this larger-than-life legend. Hugging LaCava, Woods said into his caddie’s ear, over and over: “We did it! We did it! We did it!” 

“He’s pumped up,” LaCava said later. “I’ve never seen him this excited.”

And not just for this moment, but for the future.

The prospects are as tantalizing as ever. 

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DJ may keep cross-handed grip for Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 4:29 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – As he’s proven in the past Dustin Johnson isn’t averse to switching things up when it comes to his putting, but this was extreme even for him.

Johnson switched to a cross-handed grip on the sixth hole during Saturday’s third round at the Tour Championship and continued to use the same grip through the final round.

It was the first time he’d putted cross-handed in competition and the first time he switched his grip mid-round.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“I did it a few times on the putting green. Sometimes I do it on the putting green just to get my setup a little bit better because it just levels out my shoulders,” said Johnson, who closed his week at East Lake with a 67 and finished alone in third place. “I was putting well. I hit some bad putts for the first five holes, so after I hit a really bad putt for eagle on 6, the next one I tried it, I made it, so I kept it going.”

Johnson, who moved back into the top spot in the World Golf Ranking thanks to his third-place finish, was encouraged by his putting on the weekend but he was vague when asked if he planned to putt cross-handed this week at the Ryder Cup.

“We're going to stick with it for now. We'll try it,” he said.