Tiger Woods Watch Intensifies
Without further ado:
Ken writes: Arnies tournament will be Tigers first and only before Augusta. One month after new baby; Great deal of past success; and he would be too vulnerable for match play. Hitting high driver draws with a much toned-down energy level from the top. Chipping and putting at a career best and sawed-off punch shots at an all-time accuracy level. Five wins this year plus three majors plus eight top 10s.
: Could you please be a little more specific?
Mac writes: It seems like it's been years since Tiger has played. Your article 'Predicting Tiger's Return' was just like a drink of water after not having any for a week. The Tour is a joy to watch when he is in the field.
: Actually, its only been 234 days since we last saw Tiger in competition. But whos counting?
Wade writes: Easy, there, hon. Tiger will be back soon enough for you. Maybe he can cure cancer beforehand.
: Am not really comfortable with being called hon by somebody named Wade. Not, as Seinfeld always used to say, that theres anything wrong with that.
Notor writes: Oh let us all hope and pray that Tiger will return soon and bless the golf world with his presence. Without him there playing, you folks have no one to swoon over and be totally obsessed about. Has the PGA tour played any tournaments since he left? I haven't kept up with the Tour since Tiger left. I just hope he comes back soon so I can go back to watching golf on TV again. Oh let us pray that Tiger will tell us when he will be back. Do you think he will? I worry that he won't and so do you. Please find out when and tell us since you are close to Tig.
: What, youre not obsessed with, and swooning over, Kent Jones?.....Oh, and when Tig lets me know when hes coming back, youll be the first to know.
Frank writes: One factor might be against Tiger's return for the Match Play, and that is the sheer strain of the event. Tiger doesn't play just to play; he wants to win whenever he plays, and a potential 36-hole final and one other 36-hole day on the way to that might be more than he can handle at this stage. I'm betting he shows up to the event, as Accenture is one of his sponsors, but doesn't play. We shall see. My guess for his first return event is the Bay Hill tournament, where he has had great success in the past, and which is also in his Orlando backyard, meaning no travel would be necessary.
: Couple of things: First of all, Tiger aint showing up at Match Play if he aint playing, I dont care how much Accenture pays him. But good point, Frank, about the two 36-hole days if he keeps winning. Of course if he thrashes opponents with impunity (remember, he beat down Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in last years final), he wont have to play a full 36 on those two-round days. I still think he will be at the Match Play. But the WGC-CA at Doral in mid-March is not a bad candidate either for his return because it has no pro-am.
Jim writes: This guy is human, and seeing him standing around bending his leg at Sherwood GC last December and still making a face (like this hurts). I predict that if he's not playing in a tournament by April he won't be back until 2010. I wouldn't take a chance on one of the most used (stressed) parts of the body in a golf swing before it was completely healed. It's not like he has to go on unemployment if he doesn't golf, he's a good person and I don't think his competiveness will make him come back to early and hurt his body. My two cents hope I am wrong.
: We all hope youre wrong. But Tiger knows as well as anybody what an inexact science recovering from knee reconstructions can be. He talked Wednesday about his getting his golf ball count (the number of practice balls he can hit in a day without being sore the next day) back up to where he wants it to be. Its not there yet. But listening to him, it sounds like hes getting close.
Richard writes: Dont look for Tiger until the U.S. Open. The media is in a frenzy with anticipation. Tiger is not motivated by the media. The birth of his son will delay his reentry ' as well as watching Tim Finchem trying to control his apoplexy. I actually enjoyed watching the weekend match. Kenny Perry deserved to win. For my money, Tiger can wait.
: The birth of his SON? What, are you, Elins obstetrician? And, by the way, the day Tim Finchem cant control his apoplexy is the day Mac OGrady becomes the new PGA Tour commissioner.
Ed writes: : Enough: I read half way through the article and my body parts started to hurt. All of the speculation in the world will not bring him back any faster, and when he returns we will all see if he has made changes to protect his knee. It's not even interesting to keep the Tiger watch. When I tune into the Golf Channel on a Thursday and I see him, then I will know he is back.
:Take two aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.
G.L. writes: I know all you so called writers get excited every time Tigers name is mentioned but it has been a lot of fun watching others play golf. God help you when Tiger decides to retire or spend more time with the family. I am not sure you will find anything to write about.
: If God chooses to help me when Tiger retires, I will settle for just still being alive.
Bill writes: I know you guys are frothing at the bit to see old Tiger back, but it has been great to be able to see other golfers on TV. Hope he stays away another nine months.
: Lets see, if Tiger stays away for another nine months, he should be back just in time for..the Childrens Miracle Network Classic.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead
RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.
''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''
The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.
The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.
''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''
Quinn is 64th in the standings.
''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''
Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.
Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy Mayfair, Lee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.
Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.
Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.
Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.
Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.
He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.
''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''
Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.
Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.
Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.
Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?
Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:
Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue
In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.
Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.
“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”
Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.
A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.
The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.
“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.
Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.
“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.
It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.
“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”
Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.
For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.
Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”
Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.
It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.
By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.
Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).
While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.
Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.
Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.