Notes: Woods still wants to play, not broadcast

By Doug FergusonDecember 29, 2015, 7:12 pm

No one knows for sure when Tiger Woods will compete again, and that includes Woods. Still, there were indications earlier this month he wasn't ready to retire.

Woods watched from a golf cart at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He also spent time in the TV booth, as he often does during his tournament. Woods might not always have a lot to offer in an interview, but he's a natural talking about golf. He is so good in the booth that someone jokingly suggested perhaps he should replace Johnny Miller when he's done playing.

Woods laughed.

''Talking about golf comes easy to me. I can do that all day,'' he said. ''But I don't want to sit around and watch golf up there. I want to be out here.''

The waiting game will continue into 2016, and who knows how much longer?

In the meantime, there were plenty of activity and anecdotes that went beyond Jordan Spieth's two majors, the rise of the next generation and Woods' future.

So much has been made of the high school class of 2011, and it came into focus during a practice round at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. Spieth joined Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Ollie Schniederjans for a (small) money game on the back nine.

Golf Channel wanted a shot of them all standing next to each other on the 11th hole, and one of them got the idea they should line up in order of their age. They were all 21 at the time. Spieth was in his third year on tour. Thomas and Berger were PGA Tour rookies. Schniederjans was still at Georgia Tech, playing that week on an exemption.

They started calling out their birthdays to get in the right order. The youngest of the bunch?


This was one week after he cleared $9 million in career earnings.

Unlike the PGA Tour's clandestine policy of discipline, the European Tour will confirm when a player has been fined, even though it might not disclose the amount.

That much was evident when word surfaced at Doral that Rory McIlroy had hurled a 3-iron into the lake to the left of the eighth fairway in the Cadillac Championship. McIlroy is a member of both tours.

A few British journalists inquired about a fine, leading to a radio exchange between two European Tour officials working the event.

''Is throwing a club a fine?'' came the query.

European Tour chief referee Andy McFee, sitting in a cart near the 11th hole, replied that it depended on the circumstances. A player who tossed his club in the direction of his golf bag, for example, might not be disciplined.

Long pause.

''In that case,'' the other official said, ''it appears his bag would have to be at the bottom of the lake.''

Not long after Augusta National Golf Club opened, co-founder Clifford Roberts wanted members to wear their green jackets during the tournament so that they would be easily recognized as reliable sources of information for the patrons.

It's a tradition that still lives today.

During the tournament, Augusta National member Geoff Yang (also working as a rules official) was in a cart to the right of the ninth fairway in his green jacket. About that time, a man approached and politely said to Yang, ''Can I ask you a question?''

Certainly, Yang replied.

''Do you have the time?''

OK, maybe this wasn't what Roberts had in mind.

Spieth and Justin Leonard were on the putting green at the Memorial when Leonard mentioned he didn't play the Byron Nelson Championship this year for the first time. This was a big deal. Leonard, among the prominent players to come out of Dallas, has never fared well at his hometown event.

Spieth was surprised and asked Leonard if he caught any grief.

''No. Because you played,'' Leonard told the Masters champion. ''So thank you. I owe you dinner.''

Spieth smiled, slowly nodded and went back to work on his putting. Moments later, two representatives from a PGA Tour event approached Spieth to introduce themselves. Spieth stopped what he was doing to shake their hands, and the two men felt comfortable enough to keep talking. A few seconds turned into a few minutes.

Leonard, in his 22nd year on tour, saw what was going on and walked over Spieth.

''Hey, Jordan, I need to tell you something,'' he said, placing his hand on Spieth's shoulder.

The two representatives recognized the private moment, thanked Spieth for his time, said goodbye and walked away.

Leonard looked right at Spieth and said in a low voice, ''You're welcome. And now we're even.''

Anirban Lahiri showed class and grace at the Presidents Cup, where he patiently took every question on a 3-foot putt he missed that cost his team a chance to win.

He is capable of frustration, too, and he showed that at the Hero World Challenge when he said, ''If my mom had putted, she would have shot 65.'' The next day, he felt terrible about what he said (after making it clear that his mother doesn't play golf) without making excuses.

''That's probably the most embarrassing thing I've said in the media in my life,'' he said. ''I pride myself in how I carry myself and what I say, and that's nothing like I would like to come across as. Having said that, what's said is said.''

How he presents himself was clear at ''India Night,'' a party Hero Motor Corp. hosted at Albany. Lahiri dressed for the occasion - a red kurta and jobhburis, which are sandals he said can be found only in the northwest region of India.

''I have to thank my wife for that. She made sure I put it in my suitcase,'' he said. ''Hero is very much part of the family, and it was important for me to represent.''

He gets to represent the PGA Tour next year, and it should be happy to have him.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.

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Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There is, however, one running wager.

“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.