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Tiger plays Hero practice round without pain: 'Life is so much better'

By Rex HoggardNovember 26, 2017, 7:45 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods was up early on Sunday at Albany, site of this week’s Hero World Challenge, getting in some final work before his first competitive start since February.

Woods raced around the layout in 2 hours, 10 minutes riding in a golf cart and looking relaxed and fit following fusion surgery on his back in April.

“I haven’t really competed in two years, really. I haven’t really done much. I’m looking forward to competing again and finding the rhythm and the feel of playing tournament golf and just hitting shots,” said Woods, who was joined by caddie Joe LaCava on Sunday. “I haven’t really had a scorecard in my hand in a while and that’s going to be different.”

Woods, who withdrew from the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms in February, played a casual round of golf with President Donald Trump, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon in South Florida on Friday.

It was another step closer to competition for Woods.


Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and video


“[Johnson is] the No. 1 player in the world. He’s been playing, I haven’t been playing,” Woods said. “It’s nice to compare my game to some of the other guys, like Dustin or Rickie [Fowler] or Rory [McIlroy]. It’s nice to do something like that and compete and have a couple little denominations [a bet] we’re playing for. I like seeing where I’m at.”

Woods, who is the host of this week’s Hero World Challenge, announced last month he planned to play the limited-field event and he’s posted various videos on social media of his swing.

Fowler told Golf.com that Woods has been driving it by him, and according to Faxon, Woods hit it by Johnson on half the holes when both players hit driver. On Sunday, Woods was asked about his swing.

“I am a little surprised,” Woods said. “The fact that I don’t have any pain in my lower back compared to what I was living with for years, it’s just remarkable.”

Woods added that the recovery process from April’s surgery, his fourth procedure on his back, has been slow, but he’s been encouraged by how his body has responded.

Woods explained that his surgeon initially cleared him to start hitting putts, which had been the most difficult thing to do before the surgery, and he gradually made his way through his bag, first hitting driver just 150 yards.

“I just chipped [driver]. I was like, ‘Yep, I hit driver today,’” Woods laughed. “I’ve progressed over a few days, hitting driver a little hard and harder and harder until it was comfortable enough to hit it full. That takes time and the last thing I want to do is have any setbacks.”

As for his expectations this week at Albany, Woods said he wasn’t sure how he would play, but he is encouraged by how his body has responded the last few weeks and glad to be pain-free.

“It could be the next step, I just don’t know and that’s tough to live with. It’s been a struggle for years,” he said. “To finally come out on the good side of it, it’s exciting. I am stiffer, I’m fused. But I don’t have the pain and if I don’t have the pain, life is so much better.”

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."