Tiger takes his game public

By Doug FergusonApril 28, 2010, 7:32 pm

Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tiger Woods entered the room with little fanfare, and without the constant clicking of camera shutters.

His press conference lasted only 16 minutes. The PGA Tour required an admission ticket for the media, although that wasn’t necessary. There were 76 seats in the interview room, and 24 of them were empty.

On the golf course, Woods received warm applause when he was introduced on the first tee. The loudest cheer came at the end of his pro-am round Wednesday at Quail Hollow when he knocked in a 25-foot birdie putt before thousands of fans soaking up warm sunshine.

“I have to say, this feels a heck of a lot more normal than the Masters did,” Woods said.

The Quail Hollow Championship is another step toward Woods trying to get back to normal, at least with his golf.

Everything about this tournament was going to be different from Augusta National, where the world’s No. 1 player made his celebrated return to competition after five months of fallout from his extramarital affairs. Quail Hollow doesn’t have the magnitude of the stage, the size of the gallery or the level of media interest.

Even so, this is the first PGA Tour event Woods is playing where tickets were sold to the general public. The behavior was not much different from three weeks ago at the Masters, and Woods wasn’t surprised.

“I’ll tell you what, the people here have always been very gracious, very excited about this event,” Woods said. “These fans here really get into the event, and again, with a great field like this, I think it’ll be another great week.”

He caught a couple of jeers upon leaving the 18th green when he walked past fans wanting his autograph, but it was a claustrophobic walkway toward the clubhouse, and Woods stopped about 30 yards away and signed for 20 minutes.

He went out of his way to make eye contact with the fans, as he did at the Masters. Woods even posed for a picture with a kindergarten student on his way to the second tee.

Perhaps that will change when the tournament begins on a world-class course with another strong field that includes four of the top five players in the world ranking. Phil Mickelson is making his first start since winning the Masters, although his week got off to a rough start when he withdrew from the pro-am with a stomach illness.

Woods is to start Thursday morning with Stewart Cink and Angel Cabrera, and he will play Friday afternoon when the gallery typically is at its most vocal. If there are fans wanting to heckle him, that might be the time.

“Whether they do or not, it’s happened before, and it happened before any of this ever happened,” Woods said. “I’ve dealt with that before. But as far as the fans here over the years, they’ve been great. There’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue.”

One change Woods wants to see is with his golf.

He sounded bitter in his interview with CBS Sports after his final round at the Masters, more angry at a missed opportunity than pleased with a tie for fourth having not played a tournament in five months.

“But given a little time to reflect on it, it was an incredible week,” Woods said. “I think it went as well as it could have possibly gone, and obviously I didn’t do what I needed to do on the weekend, but after not playing for that long and coming back and finishing fourth, I think that’s pretty reasonable.”

Woods wasn’t terribly crisp during his pro-am round, hitting his first two drives deep into the trees. Then again, he didn’t look all that sharp during practice at Augusta National, either.

Mickelson is also trying to work off some rust, although the layoff was far more brief and a break worth celebrating. Of his four majors, none was quite like this – a Masters victory after a year of turmoil at home as his wife battles breast cancer, and Amy coming to the golf course to greet him when he walked off the 18th hole.

Mickelson slipped on the green jacket the next morning while fulfilling a promise to his three kids – a visit to Krispy Kreme for some glazed doughnuts – and spent the entire week going to their after-school activities and taking in a San Diego Padres game.

“When I take two weeks off, the first week I usually don’t touch a club, which was the case this past time off,” Mickelson said. “But for the last five, six days I’ve been practicing pretty hard. I feel like my game is starting to come around. I see the improvement each day, and I feel like it’s back to a level close to where it was at Augusta, so I certainly have high expectations this week and next.”

Mickelson already has one distinction as the only player to win three straight tournaments with Woods in the field. They are playing in the same event the next two weeks, both hopeful of building some momentum.

“I think just two weeks in a row competing … I’ll have a better barometer of what normal really feels like,” Woods said. “Because I haven’t done that in a while.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: