In Sweden anger over Tiger pride over Elin
There have been Christmas celebrations in a remote area of northern Sweden in a house owned by relatives of his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren. There have been summer days spent undisturbed in the couple’s luxury apartment in central Stockholm. And his wife recently purchased a secluded house on an island in the archipelago, a short boat ride outside the capital.
But if Woods is looking for somewhere to ride out the media storm surrounding his infidelity, Sweden may no longer be the place to go.
“I think his reception would be rather chilly,” said Billy McCormac, an American who has lived in Sweden for 14 years and heads the prominent think tank Timbro. “I think things are just too raw right now.”
The Woods sex scandal has indeed struck a particularly raw nerve in Sweden, where Nordegren’s transition from being a nanny for golfer Jesper Parnevik to the wife of one of the world’s most famous athletes was long seen as a fairy-tale romance.
Over the last five years, sightings of the couple on the streets of Stockholm or in nearby Vaxholm in the archipelago – where Nordegren grew up – helped create a sense of connection to a man renowned for his reclusive persona.
But like the drop in temperatures that brought a blizzard of snow over the Scandinavian country on Tuesday, Woods’ admitted betrayal of his wife has turned public opinion considerably cooler.
“We have taken him to heart and almost viewed him like one of us,” said Niklas Olovzon, a sponsorship and brand expert who heads the communications agency S&B. “Of course that has made this a much bigger deal. … I don’t think we’ll forgive him as quickly.”
Instead, there is an outpouring of sympathy and support for Nordegren, who has claims to fame in Sweden beyond her marriage to Woods. Nordegren’s mother, Barbro Holmberg, is a well-known Social Democratic politician and former migration minister while her father Thomas Nordegren is a prominent radio journalist.
“She comes from two sort of Swedish houses of nobility, so there is a sense that this is personal,” McCormac said. “I’m not sure how much the Swedish public embraced Elin before this. But now, that sense of ownership and that sense of communion with her has gotten stronger.”
That’s been evident in the country’s newspapers during the last few weeks, where the numerous front-page headlines and articles have focused as much on Nordegren as on Woods.
There has been constant speculation about whether she’ll stay with her husband, advice about how to repair her marriage, and jokes about why she used a golf club to smash the back passenger windows of Woods’ SUV the night of his infamous car crash outside their home in Florida. Local police said his wife told them she did it to help get her husband out.
In a country that prides itself on gender equality and independent women, the image of a golf club-wielding Nordegren is a source of widespread satisfaction.
“For us, it was almost a positive thing that she smashed the car window,” Olovzon said. “We like strong women in a lot of ways.”
Britta Svensson, a columnist in the newspaper Expressen, summed it up like this:
“A week ago, Tiger and Elin were the cutest couple on the globe,” Svensson wrote shortly after the reports of numerous mistresses started seeping out. “Now our Swedish hearts are brimming with pride that our own Elin – not a regular nanny but the daughter of a Social Democratic minister and Swedish Radio journalist – didn’t take any … Elin is our heroine.”
The same can no longer be said of Woods, of course, regardless of golf’s immense popularity in the country.
Despite its short summers, Sweden has nearly half a million golfers in a population of little more than 9 million, including a number of top pros like Henrik Stenson.
But to win the fans back, Woods has to get back on the course and win more titles, said Tommy Jeppsson, the editor of the Swedish version of Golf Digest.
“Time has an incredible ability to heal things like this,” said Jeppsson, pointing out that a number of famous men have been able to resuscitate their careers after sex scandals. “When you think about (actor) Hugh Grant today, you only view his scandal as a bump in the road – he didn’t drive off a cliff. I think this will be a bump in the road for Tiger Woods as well.”
Seeing Woods play in a tournament like the Scandinavian Masters has long been a dream for Swedish golf fans. If Woods does decide to end his indefinite break from golf, Jeppsson said that’s not likely to change.
“He would be very welcome,” Jeppsson said. “I don’t think anyone would miss seeing Tiger Woods play golf just because they’re a bit peeved about what he’s alleged to have done.”
But, as McCormac pointed out, Woods may not want to test his welcome too soon.
“I think the media circus needs to die down first,” McCormac said. “Maybe in six months, or, say, around the summer time. (Swedes) are very used to walking down the street, and say, ‘Oh, there’s the prime minister,’ or ‘There’s that rock star.’ Given a bit of time, given a bit of space, I’d say even (Tiger and Elin) will be able to do that eventually.”
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”