Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 6

By Casey BiererFebruary 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editors note: Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer participated in Nike Golfs Whistle Stop Tour; a press and media junket that traveled a group of Nike execs and invited media to four cities in 48 hours. This column is the sixth and final entry of a multi-part series chronicling the journey.
 
Preface
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike GV jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore - a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter (me) and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
 
The assignment given to me by Golf Channel ' create a reporters first person video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
 
Part 6
Pivotal moments in lifeweve all had those. We store those memories up, good and bad, and they last a lifetime. The first time you tasted lobster, your first kiss, the first time you drove a car, your first eagle, your first hole-in-one, the first time you interviewed Tiger Woodssay what!!! Yeah, I said it ' to myself, that is. I said, Self, youre about to interview Tiger Woods. Dont mess it up.
 
Casey: Are we ready for a mic check? Good. Oh, Im so happy to be here with Tiger. And gosh, I hope Tiger invites me to play Isleworth cause I only live three miles away
 
Tiger: Do you really? Well, you can play Windermere Golf Center.
 
Casey: Oh great. Thanks. OK, were ready?
 
Tiger: Casey Kasemgo for it.
 
Casey: Tiger, Nikes Whistle Stop Tour extravaganza. What do you make of it?
 
Tiger: Its a little busy. And its a big deal. Obviously, were trying to gain awareness with what we are trying to do with our new drivers and I think Nike is doing a very good job of that.
 
Casey: Youve seen Nike go from a position of no golf ' literally, they were not in golf ' to becoming a leader in the golf industry. Has it been interesting for you to be part of watching them kick their considerable resources in to play to make this golf division happen?
 
Tiger: Its been very interesting and it started from the top. Phil Knight made it an initiative and said that he was going to put his effort in to Nike Golf. Well, there was Nike and then there was this little golf section over here. He said, no, were going to make it in to Nike Golf. And when it comes from the top like that ' when it comes from Phil ' as driven as Phil is hes going to make it happen. Over the ten years Ive been involved its been remarkable to see the transformation that has occurred. We were barely in the apparel and shoe business. We werent in the hard goods business. Now were in balls, clubs, bags, gloves, apparel, shoesyou name it, were in it. And we are a leader. Thats pretty exciting.
 
Casey: To see Nike as a brand ' one of the biggest brands in the world ' mobilize itself to make golf happen largely on your back. Do you feel a responsibility to help Nike get where they want to go in golf?
 
Tiger: I do feel a responsibility. But, really, its been symbiotic. Ive been fortunate enough to help them along the way but theyve really helped meworking with different fabrics and technologies to help me perform better on the golf course. Weve been lucky that Nike is such an enormous company so that all the technologies that the other divisions haveweve been able to take advantage of some of that and make it applicable to golf. Also, working with our team to develop new golf balls and new clubs is something that has allowed me to elevate my game and at the same time allowed consumers to elevate their games. So its been a lot of fun for both sides.
 
Casey: The Nike tour reps tell me you are actually one the easiest guys on the Nike staff to take care of. You know what you want and you tend to stick with the equipment youre comfortable with. Yet, Nike Golf is driven by innovation. Are you are comfortable with the process of testing new equipment?
 
Tiger: Innovation is the life blood of any golf company. So I will always be testing new equipment. But, I wont put a new product in my bag unless its better. Plain and simple. If it helps me win golf tournaments Ill put it in the bag. If its the same as what I have or not as good its not going in the bag. When Nike brings me something new there is usually a testing process to find something better than what I already have. I have always believed in this. When I was a little kid I always thought of my clubs as fourteen friends in my golf bag. I dont want one stranger in my golf bag. I have to have all fourteen as my friends because I have to rely on them at any given time to execute. So there cant be any strangers in the bag.
 
Casey: Are you optimistic about Nikes future in golf?
 
Tiger: Very. I am very optimistic. I was skeptical early on because there wasnt a directive from the top. But as soon as Phil sat me down and said, here, this is what were doingeverybody got fired up at Nike. And not just Nike Golf, but at Nike as a whole. All of a sudden people knew we were going to make this happen and low and behold here we are. Its going to be very exciting to see over the next ten years what happens and yes, I am very optimistic.
 
Hey, now, that wasnt so tough. Tigers like a regular guy. Well, sort of. Anyway, he was cool. I cant speak highly enough of how Tiger conducted himself. Not just with me but with everyone I saw him talk to. In my opinion he is the genuine article and what you see is what you get; a fierce competitor on the golf course and a fine human being and gentleman off the golf course. A model for all of our superstar athletes to follow.
 
That was it for Tiger and Los Angeles. We were next met by the former world number one, David Duval. Nike flew David in from his home in Denver to join us in Los Angeles and we all boarded the Nike Jet together en route to Scottsdale.
 
I know Im sounding a bit like a broken record here but I cant help it. When I meet nice, genuine people thats what I have to report. Duval, like Tiger, was incredibly friendly. Hes a little quieter maybe, more reserved, but he carries himself every bit as much like a true professional and gentleman. Someone the game of golf can be proud of.
 
The GV jet reached cruising altitude in a hurry. Allison served us a nice lunch. Everyone chatted away. Captain Blair and first officer Keith were all about smooth flying and getting us where we needed to be on time. There were a bunch of people at TPC Scottsdale waiting for Duval and the Nike Whistle Stop Tour to arrive.
 
I was really looking forward to talking with David Duval and watching him crush driver. Ive always loved his swing. Dont you just love Duvals swing? Hey, that roast beef sandwich looks good. I think Ill have one of those.
 
Related Links:
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 5
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 4
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 3
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 2
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 1
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    Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

    Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

    Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

    Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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    Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

    With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

    Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

    It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

    The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

    Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

    In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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    Thompson bounces back from rule violation

    By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

    If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

    If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

    Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

    Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

    After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

    She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

    If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

    Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

    The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    The story here isn’t really the penalty.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

    That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

    Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

    That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

    That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

    So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

    With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

    We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

    Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

    Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

    Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

    Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

    Getty Images

    Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

    INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

    When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

    She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

    “I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

    If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

    The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

    But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

    “I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

    She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

    The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

    She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

    “I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

    She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

    Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

    “Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

    Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

    Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

    “I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”