Despite back, Woods set to defend Doral, ranking

By Doug FergusonMarch 5, 2014, 9:39 pm

DORAL, Fla. – The only tools Tiger Woods used Wednesday at Doral were a wedge, a putter and a gold pair of scissors.

Three days after he withdrew in the middle of the final round at the Honda Classic with lower back pain, Woods returned to work at the Cadillac Championship by saying he feels better after a few days of constant treatment, and that he was good enough to try to defend his title.

He just won't be playing the new Blue Monster until the opening round Thursday. Still being cautious about back spasms, Woods said he would chip and putt while walking a course that is entirely different from the one where he has won four times.

As for the scissors?

That was for the ceremonial opening of the Tiger Woods Villa at Trump National Doral.

Woods playing Doral was not a big surprise. The last time he dealt with back spasms in the final round was at The Barclays last August (he tied for second), and he played the following week outside Boston.

Even so, it was the second time in 10 tournaments that Woods experienced back pain during a round. It was the fourth time in five years that he withdrew in the middle of a round because of injury. For a guy with four surgeries on his left knee, the focus has shifted to his lower back.

''I think we have to take a more global look at it, absolutely, because it comes and goes,'' Woods said. ''We've got to make sure that we do preventative things to make sure that it doesn't happen and adjust certain things, whether it's swing, lifting, whatever it may be. You have to make certain adjustments. We've done that throughout my entire career, and this is no different.''


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His health is only part of the drama at Doral.

The lone applause at the end of a 20-minute press conference came from Donald Trump, who took over the resort and whose presence is everywhere. The majority of the 69-man field at this World Golf Championship is gearing up for the Masters next month. And at stake this week is a possible change atop the world ranking.

Woods returned to No. 1 nearly one year ago when he won at Bay Hill. Now, it's Masters champion Adam Scott who has a mathematical chance of being No. 1 for the first time in his career provided he wins this week.

''It would be a dream come true to make it to that point, but it's not necessarily probable, either,'' Scott said. ''If you look at stats and numbers, there's no reason why I'm just going to roll out and win this week. But there's great motivation for me to do that.''

The motivation for Woods is to complete 72 holes without injury. It's being fit for the Masters, his next chance to end a five-year drought in the majors.

''It's been a long couple days of just treatments nonstop, trying to get everything calmed down,'' he said. ''First of all, get all the inflammation out and from there, getting the firing sequence right again, getting everything firing in the proper sequence. And once we did that today, feels good.''

He did hit balls Tuesday at his home in Jupiter Island, no shot longer than 60 yards, mainly an attempt to make sure he kept the feel with his hands on a golf club. His caddie came down to Doral and charted the course, giving Woods an idea of what to expect.

That wouldn't do it justice.

''I'm like, 'What? There's water on that hole?''' Woods said.

There is water just about everywhere, including a new lake on the 15th and 16th holes that figures to play a big role in the Sunday finish. The PGA Tour issued a release detailing the changes:

- Rebuilt and reshaped all the greens.

- Rebuilt and repositioned all the bunkers.

- Rebuilt all the tees.

- Rebuilt all the fairways.

Now if Woods can only rebuild his body. He turned 38 last year, though health concerns are nothing new. He had the first of his four knee surgeries while at Stanford. He said he first experienced back pain in college.

''I've had a knee injury, wrist injury, elbows, you name it. Now I've had back, neck. It's the nature of repetitive sport,'' Woods said. ''We do the same motion. Some guys do it a thousand times a day, but it's the same exact motion. So you have repetitive injuries and most of my injuries are that. So that's the nature of why we lift, why we work out – to prevent a lot of these things and keep us healthy and keep us out here.

''As we get older – and I've learned it as I've aged – I don't quite heal as fast I used to.''

The real concern is his back, however.

Woods said even with shredded ligaments and two stress fractures, he was able to win the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines because the pain didn't arrive until after he had launched his shot. He said at the Honda Classic, his movement became so restricted that he couldn't rotate his body. The pain occurred as he was starting his swing and affected how he struck the ball.

''A bad back is something that is no joke,'' he said. ''With the back, it's a totally different deal. There are certain movements you just can't do. That's one of the things I've started to learn about this type of injury. It's very different.''

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”