The highest standard for Woods is his words

By Doug FergusonFebruary 16, 2011, 4:27 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s hard enough for Tiger Woods to live up to the standards he set with a golf club in his hand.

It’s proving even tougher to live up to his own words.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of his speech at Sawgrass, his first public comments since Woods was exposed for cheating on his wife. What seems to be getting a lot of attention now are 15 words from that 13 1/2 -minute statement.

“When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.”

His behavior was lacking in Dubai.

A British television commentator certainly thought so when he saw Woods, who was making a mess of the 12th hole in the final round, squat to read a putt and then turn his head to the side and spit on the green.

“You look at his work ethic and he’s a credit to the game, an inspiration to all of those who are trying to become professional golfers,” said Ewen Murray of Sky Sports. “But some parts of him are just arrogant and petulant. Somebody now has to come onto this green behind him and maybe putt over his spit. It doesn’t get much lower than that.”

Actually, it does get slightly lower when it comes to expectorations.

Imagine being in the group behind Sergio Garcia when he bent over and dropped a loogie into the cup after missing a short putt on the 13th hole at Doral in 2007.

Video of Woods spitting already was going viral on the internet Monday when the European Tour said he will be fined an undisclosed sum for breaching the tour code of conduct.

This was not his first fine.

This was not the first time he’s spit.

And this was not the first time, certainly not lately, that Woods had a chance to win a tournament only to blow up in the final round.

From the time Woods returned to golf last year at the Masters, there was a feeling in some quarters that when – or if – he got back to winning tournaments, all would be forgotten, if not forgiven.

That remains to be seen.

Woods now has gone 15 months and 17 tournaments without winning. He doesn’t appear to be particularly close, either. In his last three tournaments – two of them with a chance to win – Woods has closed with rounds of 73, 73 and 75. It’s the first time since 1997 that he was over par in the final round of three straight tournaments.

With his game in disarray, that puts even more scrutiny on his behavior.

Woods has been spitting as long as he has been wearing a red shirt on Sunday, usually after a bad shot or a missed putt. And while it’s true that Steve Marino was spitting at Pebble Beach in the final round, Steve Marino is not Tiger Woods. It might be a double standard, but such is the cost of celebrity.

Woods is known to slam his clubs after a poor shot, and one time his driver bounced into the gallery in Australia. Swearing is second nature. There have been times when he yelled out “Fore!” to keep him from shouting another word that starts with the same letter.

That probably will never change.

And that’s the problem. Because he said it would.

“When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.”

For all the outrage expressed by the British media, it was peculiar that no one asked him about the famous glob after his round Sunday. Woods apologized a day later on Twitter: “The Euro Tour is right – it was inconsiderate to spit like that and I know better. Just wasn’t thinking and want to say I’m sorry.”

The British golf media used to refer to Woods as “the great man” when he was racking up majors. It was easier to overlook his behavior when he flashed that smile while posing with a trophy. Now, he is vulnerable to criticism as never before.

There was Augusta National chairman Billy Payne and his scathing criticism of Woods on the day before last year’s Masters.

“But certainly, his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par; but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change,” Payne said.

The day after the Masters, CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz went on a New York radio show and torched Woods for his language.

“Tiger’s not the only guy who’s got a camera in his face all day long,” Nantz said. “But he is the only one in the field who said he wasn’t going to do that any more.”

During his press conference at that Masters, Woods said he would try to curtail his temper on the golf course, but warned that also would mean toning down his celebrations. Then again, there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate lately.

Even so, did anyone really think he would change?

Whatever flaws he had as a person were easier to overlook when his golf occupied so much of the conversation. Woods is not the only player known for his emotional outbursts, nor is he the only player who spits.

No other player is under such scrutiny, though. Woods ought to know this and expect this by now. If he says he is going to change and be respectful, he has to know that people will be paying attention.

For Woods, that might be a lone positive to take out of this. At least people are still interested in watching him.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."