The Roar Is Back

By Brian HewittFebruary 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
By an unofficial count, it will have been 253 days.
 
But whos counting?
 
OK, an entire sport has been counting.
 
Counting on the return of Tiger Woods from a broken leg.
 
Late Thursday afternoon the news arrived that the wait had ended. 'I am now ready to play again,' Woods said.
 
We had been counting with fingers and toes crossed.
 
Counting with endorsement dollars. Counting with circulation figures. Counting with ratings numbers. Counting with advertising revenues.
 
Counting, by his legion of worldwide followers, on the return on their emotional investment of the competitive fortunes of greatest golfer who ever lived.
 
Thats 253 days between the time Tiger Woods historic and heroic Monday playoff histrionics at last Junes U.S. Open and the day he now says he will return to competitive golf at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona next week.
 
The count is unofficial because everything was sort of foggy in golf while Tiger took time off to mend a left knee that underwent ACL reconstruction.
 
To be sure, Padraig Harringtons two major championship victories in Tigers absence were official. All credit to the Irishman whos still the only European to win a major championship in this century.
 
And all credit to captain Paul Azingers U.S. Ryder Cup team which stormed the fairways and greens at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky in September and strong-armed the Ryder Cup away from the Old World and back to America.
 
But lets be honest here: Golf without Tiger these last eight-plus months has been, at times, a little bit like potatoes without meat; icing without cake; Biden without Obama.
 
The recent reports of Woods recuperation coming out of his home course, Isleworth Country Club in Central Florida, have been highly-ephemeral and overly-scrutinized; much like puffs of Vatican smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
 
There had been rumors that Woods had recently visited the new venue of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, north of Tucson, has been open barely a month. But Golfweek magazine recently described the track as feeling like a stroll through rugged ground that has been tamed for the purpose.
 
In other words: A relatively good walk unspoiled by too many hills. That was a tip-off. The less arduous the treks, the easier that would be on a potentially tender knee.
 
Thursdays news had been eagerly-anticipated by the golf world, even by the players he has beaten like a bass drum since he turned professional in late 1996. I miss the opportunity to compete against him, Phil Mickelson said two Tuesdays ago. We all do. And we hope he gets back soon. And it looks like he will be out soon.
 
Soon will be Wednesday Feb. 25 when Woods, still ranked No. 1 in the world and seeded first, will face off against Australias Brendan Jones, the 64th-ranked player in the world, in the first round.
 
Accenture, also one of Tigers sponsors, is immensely-pleased and its relationship with Woods had to factor into his decision. Other dominoes that fell into place along the way included the healthy delivery of Woods second child, Charlie Axel, earlier this month; the absence of a pro-am at the Match Play; and the opportunity to get Woods return interviews out of the way before the PGA Tour heads back to Florida where the run-up to Aprils Masters begins in earnest.
 
Woods thrashed Stewart Cink, 8 and 7, in the finals of last years Match Play. He also won in 2003 and 2004. Three of his last four losses in this event have come at the hands of Australians. The low point was 2002 when Aussie Peter OMalley, the last seed, knocked him out, 2 and 1, in the first round.
 
Tiger has always professed to love match play and he has three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs and three consecutive U.S. Amateurs to prove it. The skins are on the wall. But he has also spoken many times about the caprices of match play and how one player can shoot the equivalent of a 65 or a 64 only to be boat-raced by an opponent playing better that day.
 
But if he loses in an early round, only the harshest critic will think the less of him for it. Because on the 254th day, in the throes of a spiraling world economy, Tiger Woods will return to golf.
 
He is not John Maynard Keynes, the late, great interventionist economist. But in the corner of the world reserved for golf, there will be new hope that Tigers personal recovery will stimulate and precipitate the beginning of a larger recovery.
 

 
Related Links:
  • The roar is back
  • WGC-Accenture Match Play field closed
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
     
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
  • Getty Images

    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

    Getty Images

    Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

    By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

    A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

    Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

    Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

    If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

    Getty Images

    It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

    FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

    The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

    Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

    Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

    Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.

    Getty Images

    Rando withdraws name from Ryder Cup consideration

    By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:11 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - In a legitimately unexpected move, Stephen Atkinson has removed his name from Ryder Cup consideration, according to a letter leaked by European captain Thomas Bjorn on Monday.

    Atkinson, the 52,187th-ranked player in the world and recent winner of the West Hill monthly medal, penned the following letter to Bjorn, removing his name from consideration for September's biennial matches.

    Atkinson, who also serves as the Captain of the Babalou Golf Society, immediately squashed speculation that he could instead serve as a vice captain - as Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have in the past - writing that any such suggestion would be "unfair to both the society and the Ryder Cup team."

    The decision leaves Bjorn potentially shorthanded and also appears to have sent him into some sort of existential malaise, the severity of which is not yet known.

    Atkinson joins P.J. Willett and Central Standard Time in the Hall of Fame of off-course distractions for a European squad that hasn't lost on its home soil in 25 years.