After Further Review: Injuries could plague Woods

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Tiger Woods' back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic, the finish that tripped up Rory McIlroy and several others at PGA National and favorites for the Masters.

Here’s what we know about Tiger Woods’ withdrawal because of a back injury on Sunday: He can’t blame it on the hotel bed this time. Other than that, everything else is open to interpretation.

Leaving his hometown Honda Classic with five holes to play, I instantly recalled an interview room back-and-forth that I had with Woods prior to last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship. At the time, I asked him if he was worried about the long-term effects of a lingering back injury. After all, he was still receiving daily treatments and was just days removed from gutting out a runner-up result at The Barclays after suffering a similar injury.

He stared me down and offered a one-word answer: “No.”

He then elaborated, but I still didn’t believe him. Anyone who’s ever felt a back tweak has worried about its aftereffects. When that anyone is a man chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major record, there isn’t a chance his real answer could have been no.

After he walked off the course Sunday, he gave a few quick comments to his personal media liaison, but didn’t stick around for questions from the press. When he finally does, I’d like to ask him again – six months after the last time I asked him – whether he’s worried about the long-term effects of a lingering back injury.  Jason Sobel

In case we had forgotten, Sunday’s final round at PGA National served to reiterate that golf is, at times, a rather humbling game. Over the last two hours of the Honda Classic, no shortage of players appeared in position to potentially win, only to backpedal one after the other. Chips were flubbed, par putts missed and balls appeared to have a magnetic draw to the various water hazards on the Champion Course. All four of the playoff participants made it to extra holes despite shooting 2-over 37 or worse on the back nine.

More often than not, these guys make it look easy. Two-shot leads through 54 holes tend to become two- (or three-) shot victories. Every now and then, though, the game with which most amateurs are familiar plays out live on television among even the best players in the world.  Will Gray

With the Masters a little more than a month away, Bubba Watson and Jason Day look like they ought to be the favorites.

With all the tight-throated failure that transpired at the end of the Honda Classic Sunday, Watson's 64-64 weekend finish at the Northern Trust Open two weeks ago looks even more impressive. It wasn't just the winning there. It was seeing Watson driving the ball so well and hitting the draws and fades and towering iron shots required at Augusta National.

Day looked equally sharp mowing down everyone who lined up against him at the Match Play Championship last week.

Two months into the new year, Tiger Woods looks lost or maybe just hurt. Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson are still searching for form. Rory McIlroy is searching for better Sundays. The clock is ticking for all of them with the year's first major swiftly approaching.  Randall Mell

Despite a wraparound schedule that has made the PGA Tour’s once anemic offseason non-existent and a West Coast swing that, at least in theory, should be stronger than ever, the circuit’s unofficial opening day has set up shop in South Florida. Last week, before he blazed a trail to the weekend at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Graeme McDowell acknowledged as much. “I was really looking at next Thursday (at the Honda Classic) as the beginning of my season,” he said. This week’s Honda Classic had seven of the top 10 players in the world and a leaderboard to match. Officially we may be 15 events into the 2014-15 schedule, but Sunday felt like the real beginning.  Rex Hoggard

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick


5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.

The second is from Sunday night.

And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.