Thanks for the Memories

By Mercer BaggsNovember 29, 2009, 10:13 pm
This week in Backspin, we focus solely on the Tiger Woods saga, breaking it down report by report.

News reports around 2:30 p.m. ET Friday say Tiger Woods was involved in a one-car crash outside his Isleworth home. They say it happened about 12 hours earlier as he was leaving his house. It is reported Woods’ Cadillac Escalade struck a fire hydrant and then a tree, and he was listed in serious condition.

BackspinUpon changing the channel while leisurely watching the Alabama-Auburn football game, “Tiger in car crash!” was fonted across the TV screen on one of the local Orlando affiliates. My first thought was, “I really, really hope this was a real tiger driving a car.”

Conflicting reports come in saying that Woods was in a “minor” automobile accident, was treated at a local hospital and released, and aside from facial lacerations he was in good health. Police officials say that the officer who listed Woods in serious condition was required to do so since he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. They also say the accident was not alcohol related.

Backspin It was good to hear that Woods was OK, but there were still plenty of questions, namely: What was he doing leaving the house at 2:30 in the morning? Rumors covered cyberspace like a plague of beetles. ‘Ooh, he had a fight with his wife.’ 'Ooh, he's having an affair.' ‘Ooh, he was drunk and there’s a big cover-up.’ ‘Maybe he was just getting formula.’ ‘Maybe he was going to work out.’ My thought: How the hell is Auburn beating Alabama? issues a brief statement saying Woods is OK and there will be no further comment. Reports then surface that Woods’ wife, Elin, used a golf club to break out the back window of his SUV and drag him out of the vehicle. He was in and out of consciousness and there was blood in his mouth. He was transported to a nearby hospital and 12 hours after the accident occurred an official report was released.

Backspin Umm, I’ve seen Elin in person. She's awful pretty and fit as can be, but unless she has the ability to transform into She-Hulk when she’s angry, she’s not dragging a limp, 190-pound body over two rows of seats. Also, when you look at the photos from the crash, the rear window appears intact. The middle windows are down, so maybe she broke the 'back seat' windows. Still, it's hard to get a clear understanding of what happened without hearing from Tiger and/or Elin.

Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor tells media that the couple requested not to be interviewed Friday night, but instead Saturday morning so Tiger could get some rest. Authorities oblige, but when they return the next day they are told by Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, that the couple would not be speaking to them until Sunday.

BackspinGiving the police the Heisman. Intriguing move. By law, Woods isn’t required to give a statement, only his driver’s license, insurance and registration of the SUV. Still, silence always translates to: You have something to hide [even if you don’t]. Don't know where we're headed with all this but it looks like the road to Tabloid Town.

By now, Woods’ story has well exceeded the golf world. National news outlets and tabloid papers have descended upon Windermere, Fla. The notorious publishes photos from the accident. They also “report” a few other items.

BackspinWe’re not about to jump into their muck, but even The Associated Press addressed a story published two days prior to the accident by the National Enquirer, which said Woods had an affair with New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel. Uchitel, who was said to have been in Melbourne with Woods during the Australian Masters, denied the claim. Unfortunately, rumor and innuendo are helping to form a clearer picture of the crash scene than fact. Woods really needs to speak. And have a really good story. reports Uchitel is meeting with publicity hound/lawyer Gloria Allred.

BackspinFive words never before written: It sucks to be Tiger.

Around 2 p.m. ET Sunday, it is reported that Tiger Woods' lawyer told the Florida Highway Patrol that his client will again not be speaking with them as planned, regarding the accident. No reason for the cancellation was given.

BackspinThis is Lucy and Charlie Brown. They keep running the same trick play and I – and the FHP – keep falling for it. Either Tiger's brain trust really knows what they are doing or they're allowing him to make the worst PR move of his life. You gotta believe it's the former since this guy is worth a bazillion dollars to them, but like 'Casablanca II,' it just doesn't seem right.

Police release audio of the 911 call, which was made by the neighbor whose tree Woods hit.

BackspinThe neighbor was a bit frantic, but the audio was too scratchy to be dramatic. It would have been much better if Woods lived next to the Don LaFontaine. And if Don LaFontaine wasn't dead.

Woods releases a statement on his Web site taking full responsibility for the accident. He says he is embarrassed and sore. He says his wife acted 'courageously' and says all the 'malicious rumors' are 'irresponsible.' He also asks people to respect his privacy on the matter.

BackspinWoods is usually in total control of a situation, especially when it comes to his personal life. But this time is very different. When something this public happens to someone so public, privacy isn't granted by simple request.
Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”