Woods' race to catch Jack depends on wounded knee

By Associated PressMay 31, 2011, 11:40 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Jack Nicklaus doesn’t want Tiger Woods to break his recordof 18 major championships.

But he does want him to be healthy enough to try.

Nicklaus told him as much last Friday when Woods called to say that for thesecond time in four years, he wouldn’t be able to play in this week’s MemorialTournament because of an injury to his left leg. Woods missed in 2008 whilerecovering from minor surgery to clean out cartilage damage in his left knee.

This time the culprit is a combination of a minor knee sprain and hisAchilles, which was bad enough to cause him to leave The Players Championshipafter only nine holes.

Woods hopes to play the U.S. Open. Trying to win majors starts with playingin them.

“I don’t know the extent of his injuries,” Nicklaus said Tuesday. “I toldTiger when I was on the phone with him - which is the same thing I’ve said tohim a thousand times - ‘Tiger, nobody ever wants their records to be broken …but I certainly don’t want you not to be healthy and not have the opportunity toplay to break records. I want you to get yourself healthy, do what you have todo to go play, get your golf game back in shape, and I wish you well.’

“I would say that to any athlete and anybody, because I think that’s theway it should be,” Nicklaus said. “But what his situation is, I don’t know anymore than what I read.”

It wasn’t long ago when Woods appeared to be a lock to not only catchNicklaus, but to break the most recognized record in golf.

He won his 14th major in the 2008 U.S. Open at age 32 - Nicklaus was 35 whenhe won his 14th major - and even after reconstructive surgery on his left knee,Woods went into the weekend of the 2009 PGA Championship with a four-shot lead.He was two rounds away from winning No. 15, with Pebble Beach and St. Andrews onthe rotation the following year.

It all changed so quickly.

He lost the lead - and the PGA Championship - to Y.E. Yang . Then cameThanksgiving night and revelations of serial adultery, which led to divorce. Hehired a new swing coach. He is in the middle of a slump that once seemedunfathomable. He has fallen out of the top 10 in the world ranking for the firsttime in 14 years.

And now there’s another injury that makes Woods seem a lot older than 35.

For all that has gone wrong with Woods during the last 18 months, his healthmight be the most troubling - at least as it relates to his golf, and especiallyin context with Nicklaus.

Nicklaus won 70 times in 19 years on the PGA Tour before the first sign ofan injury.

“Physically, I was pretty darned good,” he said.

Two weeks after he won the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill for his 17thmajor, he had to withdraw from the final round of the World Series of Golf atFirestone with a bad back. About two years later, his back flared up again atthe 1983 Masters and he had to withdraw early in the second round.

The first time he had surgery was in 1984, when he hurt his left knee whileplaying tennis.

“I went and had it operated on and I won the Skins Game 17 days later,”Nicklaus said. “So obviously, it wasn’t a very major operation.”

Woods already has had four surgeries on his left knee.

“I’m sure down the road it may be more difficult,” he said. “Buthopefully, I’ll be in a cart by then on the senior tour. But between now andthen, I should be pretty good.”

It’s that area between now and then that has become such a mystery.

Woods says the state of his left leg is not the “doomsday” he keepsreading and hearing about in the media. And don’t forget, it was only two monthsago that he shot 31 on the front nine of The Masters to tie for the lead untilhis putter failed him on the back nine and he wound up in a tie for fourth.

Asked to handicap Woods’ chances of catching him now, Nicklaus could onlyoffer, “I would have no clue.”

What amuses Nicklaus is talk that the chase is over, even if Woods doesn’tmake it to Congressional in two weeks for the U.S. Open, or plays in the othertwo majors that follow this year.

“That’s ridiculous,” Nicklaus said. “You guys control that. By the timeyou get through writing somebody off, they may as well go sell their clubs.Tiger is hurt. He hasn’t been able to play. By the time you get done with him… there’s 400 golfers in front of him. You know what I’m saying. It getspushed too far.”

Even if Woods were to go winless this year, he would still have the samenumber of majors that Nicklaus won at age 35. Nicklaus believes that a player inhis era was “old” in his late 30s. These days, he thinks “old” is over theage of 45.

If that’s the case, Woods has some 40 majors still to play. But that dependson his health.

“That 18 is our benchmark in our sport,” Woods said last week. “No onehas played the major championships better than Jack has. It took Jack over 24years to do what he did. I still have plenty of time, and I feel that goingforward, I’m excited about playing major championships and playing golf again.

“I just want to be healthy and solid,” he said. “And I feel like I cangive it a go.”

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.