Questions still remain for Woods 5 years after crash

By Doug FergusonNovember 25, 2014, 10:44 pm

Any mention of golf during the week of Thanksgiving used to be about the Skins Game.

Now it's hard not to think about Tiger Woods.

It was five years ago this week when his private life began to unravel. It still seems surreal to recall the breaking news scrolling along the bottom of the television that Woods had been ''seriously injured'' in a car accident outside his home. The injury wasn't that serious. He was treated and released.

And while the tree his SUV struck did far more damage, it was the fire hydrant he first ran over that became a symbol of the before-and-after nature of his career.

There is a fascination with anniversaries. Is five years any more meaningful than four or six? Still, it seems appropriate to raise one question as Woods prepares to return to competition next week after another long layoff.

Is this where you thought he would be five years later?

He has gone through two swing coaches. He has changed caddies. He has gone from married with children to being a single dad. He still has 14 majors. And next week at the Hero World Challenge will be his fifth comeback from injury.

So much has changed, except for the expectations.

They're just as high.

And that's why the last five years - particularly the last one - would seem to be a lost cause.

About this time a year ago, Woods was on the cusp of winning his World Challenge until Zach Johnson holed out from the drop zone for par on the 18th hole and went on to beat him in a playoff. That stuff used to only happen to Greg Norman.

No problem. Woods was coming off another five-win season on the PGA Tour that only he can make look routine. He was PGA Tour player of the year for the 11th time, won the money title for the 10th time and captured the Vardon Trophy for the ninth time.

But when he began this year as the defending champion at Torrey Pines, no one could have imagined what would follow.

Woods has started only eight tournaments this year and finished only three of them. For the first time in his career, he did not register a top 10. There were two WDs (withdraws), two MCs (missed cuts) and one MDF (54-hole cut).

He effectively was MIA.

Recurring back pain led to surgery in March, which forced him to sit out three months and miss two majors. When he returned (earlier than he should have), he looked more like an old Woods than the Woods of old. And then he shut it down after the PGA Championship to get stronger.

Is he as good as 25-year-old Rory McIlroy? No. For starters, Woods turns 39 next month.

Can he challenge him?

Considering the last five years as a whole, it might be too early to rule him out.

-McIlroy with 13 wins worldwide is the only player to have won more than Woods (nine) over the last five years. Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood also have nine wins around the world.

-Woods still has the highest winning percentage (12 percent) of anyone in the last five years.

-In the last five years, Woods has been at No. 1 in the world longer (60 weeks) than the other five players who have taken turns at the top of the ranking, and he is the only player to be No. 1 for a continuous year.

It's not all that dire.

Far more difficult to measure is how much Woods has been affected physically and emotionally since the crisis in his personal life unfolded Thanksgiving weekend in 2009.

He doesn't seem to make as many big putts. But that started before he hit the fire hydrant. Otherwise, he would have won the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.

He has lost precious time because of his Achilles tendon and his left knee, and more recently his back. Those injuries were a matter of time.

The biggest change involves his corporate deals. Woods lost or did not renew sponsorship deals with Accenture, AT&T, Gillette, Gatorade, Tag Heuer and EA Sports. He has replaced them with Rolex, a Japanese heat rub, FUSE and now Muscle Pharm. Nike remains his biggest sponsor, and Woods has made appearances in commercials and TV shows with McIlroy. There was a time when Woods didn't share his Nike stage with anyone.

His performance in the majors is the most glaring difference, mainly because that always has been his ultimate measure.

In the 16 majors he has played since 2010, Woods has only five top-five finishes, and he has not been a serious factor in the final hour of any of them. He has not broken 70 in the final round of a major since the Masters in 2011.

He remains stuck on 14 majors dating to the 2008 U.S. Open. He is still four short of catching Jack Nicklaus.

The week after Thanksgiving, Woods gets back to work. And that leads to another relevant question.

Where will he be five years from now?

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”