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Woods thanks JT, DJ, Rickie, Rory, Berger for their help

By Jay CoffinNovember 30, 2017, 10:28 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods has appeared in great spirits all week. From his practice rounds to the pro-am to the first round, Woods seems truly happy to be walking back inside the ropes with his PGA Tour brethren.

Like it or not, this week is about Woods. It’s about him being back for the first time in 301 days. It’s about him being able to compete at his tournament. Everyone here, including the players, realize this.

On Tuesday, Justin Thomas, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, was asked about Woods five times before he was asked a question about himself.

And on Thursday, after matching Woods’ opening 69, Thomas walked to the assembled media and asked a question of his own: “What do you want to talk about?”

He knew the Woods questions were coming, and he was more than happy to answer them.

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It’s been more of the same from everyone here at Albany.

“I just want him to come here and play solid golf and be healthy and feel good where he’s going to be able to go play some of the West Coast to start the year,” Rickie Fowler said.

Matt Kuchar, who has shared a number of U.S. team rooms with Woods, was asked if he spent any of his day peaking at leaderboards to check on Tiger.

"Absolutely, we wanted the Tiger Woods update. On every hole we were trying to find an update," said Kuchar, who played alongside Jordan Spieth. "We were asking some of the microphone guys for an update. Certainly I think everybody was excited and couldn't wait to see how he would do."

After his round, Woods credited some of his South Florida tour pro buddies with helping him get ready to play this week. You could tell it meant a lot to him that the younger guys, those who looked up to Woods for the past 20 years, were willing to push Woods in any way possible.

“The guys have been great, from JT to Berger to Rory to all the guys, Rickie, DJ,” Woods said after his opening round. “I played with all of them, and they’re all trying to help me. They’re all texting me, ‘Come on, let’s go out and play. Let’s go play for some dollars and have a good time.' They really want to help me and come back and play."

One thing Woods specifically needed help with was club distances. So he used Fowler as a measuring stick.

“I didn’t know how far I was hitting clubs,” Woods said. “When I left the game, I was much shorter than Rickie and next thing you know I’m about the same length. So it was nice to be able to play rounds of golf with those guys.”

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Podany named CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Arnold Palmer organization announced Wednesday that Jon Podany has been appointed president of Arnold Palmer’s charitable foundation, Arnie’s Army, and CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Podany spent the last eight years at the LPGA, most recently as the tour’s chief commercial officer.

He’ll begin his new role on Oct. 15.

“This is an exciting time for the Arnold Palmer organization,” said Arnold Palmer organization chair Amy Palmer Saunders. “My father would be so pleased that the diverse companies he built alongside a dedicated team will be led by a person of great capability and character. Jon’s passion for the game of golf and the depth of his industry experience made him the clear choice to advance the Palmer family of businesses.”

Said Podany: “I am incredibly honored and excited to be joining the Arnold Palmer organization, which represents the very best the game has to offer in so many ways. Like so many others who have had the good fortune to work in the golf industry, I owe so much to Arnold Palmer and his family, both on and off the course.”

Podany, 53, joined the LPGA in 2010 shortly after Mike Whan began as the tour’s commissioner. As president and CEO in his new role, Podany will oversee Arnie’s Army and all businesses that comprise Arnold Palmer Enterprises, including the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Cup, Arnold Palmer Design Company as well as the Bay Hill Club and Lodge and the Latrobe Country Club.

Before joining the LPGA, Podany spent 15 years at the PGA Tour as a senior vice president. He started his business career in 1987 at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. He’s a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University. He and his wife Julie have three daughters.

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Thomas: Wrist injury 'looks worse than it is'

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Among the items of interest U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk had coming into this week’s Ryder Cup was the health of Justin Thomas.

Although Thomas is a rookie on this year’s team he’s likely to be one of the American side’s key players if the team is going to end a victory drought in Europe that now stretches 25 years and when he was slowed by a case of tendinitis in his right wrist at the Tour Championship the captain took notice.

“The wrist, it's fine,” Thomas said. “Like I said last week, it looks worse than it is. It's just the white tape on top of the K.T. tape, it's more prevention. It's something to where it's not going to get any worse.”

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Thomas, who said he’s experienced no pain in his wrist the last two weeks and that the injury isn’t impacting his game, has played the last two days alongside Jordan Spieth and it seems likely the two will partner this week at Le Golf National.

Asked if he would be able to play all five sessions if he was asked by Furyk, Thomas’ response didn’t suggest he’s been slowed by the ailment.

“Could I play five matches? I'd play six if I could,” he smiled. “If [Furyk] needs me to go five, I'll go five. If he needs me to go two or three, I'll go two or three. Whatever it is, I'll be ready to go.”

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Simpson revisits 'the pop-up' to open '14 matches

By Will GraySeptember 26, 2018, 2:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – It remains, much to Webb Simpson’s dismay, one of the more memorable shots in recent Ryder Cup history.

Simpson had the burden of the first tee shot for the U.S. the last time the Ryder Cup was played in Europe, paired with Bubba Watson in the first morning fourball session at Gleneagles in 2014. With thousands watching, his 3-wood went sky high and, to Simpson’s generous estimate, 205 yards.

“Are you referring to the pop-up?” Simpson joked when a journalist asked him to revisit the moment.

It was the start of a regrettable match for Simpson and Watson, who never won a hole and were trounced by Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, 5 and 4. But time heals all wounds, and given four years to reflect he’s now able to crack a smile about a swing where the setting clearly got the best of him.

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“That was a shot I had in my bag all year. It was like the fifth time I had done it,” Simpson said. “I was losing my concentration a little bit and I teed it up a little too high. I had done it a few other times that year. Usually it goes straight down, and that one went straight up. At least it hit the fairway.”

Simpson was relegated to a spectator for the 2016 matches, although he admitted he didn’t miss a shot and that the Patrick Reed-Rory McIlroy singles match drew both he and wife Dowd off the couch in excitement. But thanks in large part to his breakthrough victory at The Players Championship in May, he’s set to play on his third squad, in search of his first team win.

While it seems likely he’ll reunite with Watson as a partner this week, American captain Jim Furyk could be well-served to slot them somewhere down in his morning lineup to avoid a Gleneagles duplicate.

“We’re more nervous here than any other tournament, and it’s not the fans. It’s a good thing,” Simpson said. “Everybody that made both teams can deal with pressure. But yeah, the first tee, that environment is fun and a little more – probably a little more nervous there than the second or third hole. That’s why you might see me teeing off on the evens.”

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Bubba feeling under the weather in France

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 2:14 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bubba Watson’s week has gotten off to a much better start than it did the last time he was in France.

At the 2011 French Open, Watson was scrutinized when he struggled to describe his tour of Paris. “I don’t know the names of all the things, the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch (Arc de Triomphe), whatever I rode around in a circle,” he said at the time. “And then what’s that – it starts with an ‘L’ – Louvre, something like that. One of those.”

Watson also criticized tournament officials for failing to control fans and their use of cell phones.

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Things have gone much smoother this week, even though Watson is feeling under the weather. He also said the criticism he received during the ’11 French Open was unfounded.

“It was sad that people wrote or took my comments or whatever I did, because I don't really remember. It's so long ago. But it was sad that they did that because I loved it. I've always loved it,” he said. “It was sad, but I learned from it.”

Watson, who seems likely to play with Webb Simpson in the team sessions, said the crowds have embraced him, with fans chanting “Boo-ba” during his practice round on Wednesday.

The bigger concern for Watson this week may be his health. Sounding hoarse and tired when he spoke to the media, he explained that he started to feel sick during last week’s Tour Championship, and he was still trying to recover. 

“It's a long year. We're all tired,” Watson said. “You can tell, my voice, I'm exhausted. A lot of us were kind of getting sick, gosh, I don't want to say not quite half the field had something, and then you know, traveling all the way over here, we're all battling something.”

The bigger concern for Watson this week may be his health. Sounding hoarse and tired when he spoke to the media, he explained that he started to feel sick during last week’s Tour Championship and he was still trying to recover.

“It's a long year, we're all tired,” Watson said. “You can tell, my voice, I'm exhausted. A lot of us were kind of getting sick, gosh, I don't want to say not quite half the field had something, and then you know, traveling all the way over here, we're all battling something.”