Finchem and Woods have media face off

By Jason SobelMay 29, 2012, 10:17 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – At promptly 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sat down at the dais in the Muirfield Village Golf Club interview room and announced one of golf’s worst-kept secrets. Within minutes, Fred Couples and Nick Price were introduced as the newest Presidents Cup captains, joining Finchem in the news conference as they were peppered with questions about next year’s competition at this very venue.

A half-hour later, the two captains were still spinning yarns and dropping hints; Price spoke about the time he angrily broke a putter in front of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, while Couples let slip that he will likely be an assistant to old buddy Davis Love III at this year’s Ryder Cup.

Meanwhile, some 2,100 miles across the country, Tiger Woods had convened on a reddish-orange couch in a lounge at The Olympic Club, site of next month’s U.S. Open and host to his practice round earlier in the day. He glared into a computer screen, not to watch the captains’ news conference, but to host a Google Plus “hangout” during which he answered questions from fans.

Video: Google ... Plus Tiger

For nearly 15 minutes, the two events coincided – a confluence of old media standard and new media strategy, staring each other down from 10 paces with pistols drawn.

Throughout his professional career, Woods has often separated himself from the masses with his on-course performance. In this particular instance, he was separated by distance and content, a voluntary isolation that could serve as a career-long metaphor.

It wasn’t that the timing of his “hangout” was especially wrong; it was just … awkward.

Even Finchem, never one to heap criticism upon the Tour’s biggest moneymaker, was left stretching to explain how the overlap of the two public performances made sense.

“We’d like for our top, star players to coordinate things with what’s going on,” the commissioner said privately afterward. “I don’t know to what extent it was a problem, though.”

Perhaps muddying that image was the fact that the Tour’s own website and Twitter feed were promoting the conflicting events, allowing interested observers an opportunity to choose between the two mediums.

Before posting something to your own website or Twitter feed taking offense to any offense taken, understand that any confusion here is more about the timing of the two events rather than Woods’ decision to forgo traditional media or the actual execution of his live chat.

The truth is, it was abundantly more palatable than the recent 14-minute video that featured Woods alone, answering questions in what appeared more hostage video than “hangout.” With journalist Mark Soltau serving as moderator and television commentator Roger Maltbie proffering a few queries, the production value was greatly enhanced from its previous version.

Though the page’s comments section was riddled with an amalgamation of posts that ranged from the old standby “you da man” to the new adaptation “Tiger! Follow me on Twitter!” to the banal “fire foley” in addition to plenty of lewd comments, his message came across loud and clear. Woods wants to interact more directly with the fans – and if that means cutting out the middle man of traditional media, well, then so be it.

“Absolutely, I’m going to do this more often in the future,” Woods stated near the end of the chat. “It’s fantastic for us to be able to reach out to fans. … We want to let them ask questions and let them feel like they’re part of the process as well.”

Meanwhile, the news conference continued in Ohio with nary a mention of Tiger’s name until the very end – and only circumstantially. It left the “hangout” with the same feeling as if MTV had announced its music award nominees during the very same time that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was having its induction ceremony.

Granted, only Couples perfectly fits the rock star analogy, but the simultaneous nature of the two performances certainly struck the wrong chord.

It may have struck a bigger one if other principal figures were briefed on the overlapping scenarios.

“I don’t know anything about the timing,” Finchem said. “As far as doing it, you know, we’ve got a lot of players doing it. It’s just that he’s Tiger Woods, so if he does it, everybody’s eyes are on him. It doesn’t bother me. People like that stuff today. I’m not versed in the content they went over today or anything like that or whether he made any announcements, but just in terms of the overall structure of the way to reach fans, on the surface at least, I don’t think it’s much different from Stewart Cink being on Twitter all the time.”

There’s nothing wrong with the PGA Tour holding a news conference to announce the upcoming Presidents Cup captains, even if they were hardly a surprise. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with Woods holding an online chat to interact with his fans. The confluence of events which saw them coincide with each other on Tuesday, though – the game’s most popular player potentially upstaging an important announcement – could have shown better timing without robbing anyone of either message.

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McCarthy wins Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.