The possible impact of Woods skipping Wells Fargo

By Jason SobelApril 30, 2013, 1:00 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tiger Woods dropped this week's Wells Fargo Championship from his schedule. But he didn't move further back, so it counts as a legal drop.

Hey, the punch lines are still coming fast and easy at Woods' expense, but at least now they're focused on his on-course foibles rather than anything away from the game.

Just a few weeks removed from the Rules Decision Heard 'Round the World, the game’s No. 1-ranked player made a decision of his own that speaks volumes. But alas, much like the call from the Masters rules committee, exactly what it says is all based in the translation.

Here is a foursome of hypotheses that can be gleaned by Woods’ decision to skip the Quail Hollow festivities:

• He no longer needs more reps.

For the past few years, Woods has consistently and almost constantly reminded us that the key component to playing better competitive golf is getting “more reps” – which, of course, is just fancy golf lingo for the old “practice makes perfect” axiom.

In fact, a Google search for “Tiger Woods+more reps” yields more than 50,000 results. That doesn’t mean Woods uttered those words that many times, but the number may not be too far off.

By skipping the Wells Fargo, he is essentially informing us that the More Reps Era has come to an official end. This should be perceived as both a significant and positive sign. With three wins last year and three already this year, Woods has cleared an important hurdle by not needing to compete on a more regular basis.

That may be viewed as bad news by the PGA Tour, network television and legions of fans, but for a player who has never hidden his preference to play fewer tournaments, “Tiger Woods+enough reps” should serve as sweet music to his search engine.

The Players Championship isn’t the fifth major.

Despite annual pleas from PGA Tour brass, the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.-based event isn’t on par with the four majors; if anything, it’s first among The Other Ones.

Two years ago, while sitting in a comfy chair in the interview room at TPC Sawgrass, Woods was bluntly honest in his assessment of the tournament, saying, “The whole idea is that I peak four times a year and I'm trying to get ready for [the U.S. Open] and I need some playing time.”

He later added, “This is a big event and I want to be here and play.” Although it should be noted that the man who once played 91 holes on a torn ACL and fractured leg – at a major, of course – withdrew with a knee injury two days later after playing just nine holes.

If we needed further proof that The Players doesn’t rank on the same elite level as the majors, Woods provided it this week. At no point in his professional career has he voluntarily elected to take a three-week respite prior to a major, only allowing for that much time because of injury, his father’s death in 2006 or his lengthy self-imposed absence in 2010.

Assuming there is no lingering factor in his decision to eschew the Wells Fargo, it clearly flies in the face of his usual strategy to prepare for majors.

• His future at Quail Hollow could be in doubt.

“This simply came down to scheduling. Nothing else,” Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said in an email. “Tiger typically likes to take three weeks off post-Masters. That ended up being the determining factor this year. He has enjoyed Charlotte/Wells Fargo for many years.”

That should serve as a legitimate explanation and sufficient reasoning. However, it should be noted that in the three-year period from 2008-10 – when, like this year, there were only two weeks separating the Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship – Woods returned after that same two-week break to play the tournament in each instance.

Then there’s this: His track record shows that once a tourney is out, it usually doesn’t come back.

Woods stopped playing the Byron Nelson Championship in 2004 and hasn’t returned since. He stopped playing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in 2005 and hasn’t returned since. He stopped playing the Northern Trust Open in 2006 and hasn’t returned since.

You get the picture. If Peggy Nelson, beachside paradise in Maui and NBA legend Jerry West pitching Tiger's hometown event aren’t enough to persuade him to launch a comeback at any of those, then even an overture by, say, old friend and former Wells Fargo pro-am partner Michael Jordan – at whose wedding Woods was a guest this past weekend – may not be enough to lure him back to the Charlotte area someday.

On a course that should suit his game but has yielded twice as many missed cuts as victories, perhaps this decision shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s a creature of habit – and if his habit becomes skipping this event, we may remember last year’s MC as his final trip.

• We might be seeing less of Tiger.

Sure, Woods added the Honda Classic and Greenbrier Classic last year, but he’s a player who makes frequent tweaks to his swing, fewer tweaks to his equipment and even fewer tweaks to his schedule.

If, as stated above, legends such as Jerry West and Michael Jordan can’t persuade him to tee it up in PGA Tour events in their hometowns, then what chance does a mere mortal tournament director have in wooing him?

All of which brings us full circle to that initial hypothesis. Now that Woods has moved past the More Reps Era, it wouldn't be a surprise to see less of him between the ropes on a regular basis.

Not that it should be perceived as anything negative. Increased confidence in his game affords him the luxury of not feeling like he needs to play more competitive golf. Unlike that famous drop from a few weeks back at Augusta National, dropping this event from his schedule doesn’t come with a penalty.

Getty Images

Key stats from Woods' historic win at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:47 pm

Tiger Woods won his 80th career PGA Tour title on Sunday with a two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship. Here are the key stats from the final round at East Lake.

• 80th career PGA Tour win; first since 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

• Two wins behind Sam Snead for most in PGA Tour history

• Snead was 47 years old when he won his 80th career PGA Tour title (Woods is 42)

• 43-for-45 converting outright 54-hole leads in PGA Tour career

• 24-for-24 converting 54-hole leads of three or more shots

• First win in 1,876 days; 118 players won on PGA Tour between Woods' wins

• Third career Tour Championship victory (most all-time)

• Has won Tour Championship in three different decades (1999, 2007, 2018)

• Fifth PGA Tour event won in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s)

• Projected to move to 13th in World Ranking with victory

• Was ranked 1,199 before beginning of 2017 Hero World Challenge

• Snead won 11 times after turning 43 (Woods turns 43 in December)

• Eighth PGA Tour win in Georgia; fourth-most of any state (Fla., Calif., Ohio)

• Extended lead to four strokes with birdie on first hole of round

• Second in field in strokes gained: putting this week

• First in field in scrambling this week (17-for-24)

• Finished second in FedExCup; was making first Tour Championship start since 2013

• Led field in one-putt percentage this week (51.4%)

• Finishes season first on PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)

Getty Images

Social media explodes over Tiger's 80th win

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

After a five-year hiatus, Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to the winner's circle on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

As evidenced by a quick look at social media, Woods' win set the golf world on fire, with everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Michelle Wie sending their congratulations to the 42-year-old.

Here are the best reactions from a wild Sunday at East Lake, where Woods claimed PGA Tour victory No. 80:

Getty Images

Rose captures FedExCup, $10 million

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

ATLANTA – Like the “Price is Right” big wheel, $10 million spun around and around on Sunday, waiting to land on someone. It rolled past Dustin Johnson, looked like it was going to settle on Tiger Woods, and then made a final tick to rest on an ecstatic Justin Rose.

Rose won the FedExCup title on Sunday at the Tour Championship, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 18th to secure the big bonus. Woods, who won the tournament, finished second, with Bryson DeChambeau third.

Rose entered the final round as the projected winner, tied for second in the event, three shots back of Woods. However, it was a struggle from the start for the – now former – world No. 1. Rose made four bogeys and one birdie over his first 15 holes, and when he bogeyed the par-4 16th, the scenario became clear: Play the last two in 1 under or lose the cup.

Final FedExCup results and payout breakdown

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson had an outside shot at claiming the $10 million, but parred the last. He finished in solo third place, four back of Woods.

Woods, meanwhile, was in command of the tournament from the start on Sunday. He played steadily, for the most part, and no one provided a challenge. In order to win the cup, he needed to win the event – which was close to a lock all day – and Rose needed to finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse.

So, here he was, Rose, tied for SIXTH place on the 18th hole. A birdie and he’d jump into a three-way tie for fourth – as well as into a mountain of cash.

Rose hit the par-5 18th in two and successfully two-putted to clinch the cup. He didn’t win a playoff event, but his MC-2-2-T4 results were good enough, points wise, to capture the season-long race.

Getty Images

Highlights: Tiger's final round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:40 pm

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday by two strokes. Here are the highlights from the final round.

Woods got off to a great start with a birdie on No. 1.

He then made eight straight pars to close out the front nine in 1 under par. Woods started the back nine with a bogey at 10, but he rebounded with this birdie at No. 13.

Woods leaked some oil coming in with bogeys at 15 and 16, but this par putt on 17 gave him a crucial two-stroke lead heading to 18.

For the fourth straight day, Woods smoked his drive on 18.

A huge gallery followed Woods up the 18th hole.

Woods missed his birdie putt on 18, but it was an easy par for a two-stroke victory and win No. 80.