Tiger Woods misses chance to speak up on touchy topic

By Jason SobelNovember 8, 2011, 1:08 pm

I once wrote the following about Tiger Woods’ proclivity for seamless responses to seemingly thought-provoking questions: “He handles each one as if there's a media coach with a direct line to his inner ear canal, producing answers that are informative without ever revealing too much … mowing 'em down like a series of uphill two-footers.”

That was in 2007 and it was meant as a compliment. Pre-scandal and pre-injury, his image remained as pristine as his on-course record.

In the past two years, though, since his personal life has become ripe for public parody and his professional career has endured a serendipitous turn for the worse, such contrite, unfulfilling answers have grown increasingly gratuitous. We’ve all heard the standard lines ad nauseam. His game is a process; his goal is a W; and just about everything else is what it is.

Woods had an opportunity to alter that reputation during his Tuesday news conference in advance of the Australian Open.

Instead, he chose to lay up and play it safe.

In the wake of former caddie – and friend – Steve Williams employing a racially charged modifier for a derogatory term about him, Woods was given a chance to show the world a side of himself that we haven’t witnessed in a very long time, if ever.

There’s no doubt he was angry about the epithet hurled in his direction, especially considering the source. Woods even addressed that feeling during the early four-minute portion of the interview session, when questions were proffered on this subject.

“It was hurtful, certainly,” he allowed. “But life goes forward.”

So “hurtful” that Woods appeared to read those words from a prepared script off a teleprompter. There was no emotion. No passion. No mounting frustration pouring out in his directive.

It has been suggested that he should receive sufficient praise for taking the high road rather than forging what could have become an ugly public spat with Williams. I concur with that sentiment. I agree that he should be lauded for rising above the fray, defusing the situation and not stooping to the level of his former looper.

However, taking that high road and showing a raw display of emotion don't have to be mutually exclusive.

In fact, Woods could have very well started with some of the same proclamations he provided on Tuesday.

“It was the wrong thing to say, that’s something that we both acknowledge now,” he explained. “Stevie’s certainly not a racist. There’s no doubt about that. It was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and was certainly one that he wished he didn’t make.”

It was after these comments, though, where Woods really could have taken a stand. He could have told us how, as a man of mixed heritage, an assault on any part of his cultural makeup is not only disappointing, but disgusting. He could have scolded such rhetoric on all levels, whether it be serious or lighthearted, in front of a room of 500 people or in a one-on-one situation.

He could have invoked the memory of his late father, Earl, a former collegiate baseball player who in 1951 broke the color barrier in what was then the Big Seven Conference. He could have spoken about how his dad wasn’t allowed to play against certain schools back then and how proud he was of the societal integration that took place during his lifetime.

He could have brought up Charlie Sifford, the African-American golf pioneer who long ago took a young Tiger under his wing, calling him “my grandson.” He could have told the story about how his life was impacted so greatly by this man that he is partially the reason his only son owns the same first name.

In the book “Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African-Americans in Golf,” written by Pete McDaniel in 2000, Woods provided an eloquent tribute to his predecessors in the foreword.

He wrote: “Golf has afforded me a stage for free expression. That freedom, however, was a gift paid for by many determined people who endured all kinds of indignities just to be able to play the game. I and every person of color who enjoys this great game can do so because of their determination and grit. I’m reminded of that every time I tee it up. I know where I’ve been.”

The Tiger who weighed in then with such elocution wasn’t present at Tuesday’s news conference. He needn’t have volleyed a service back into Williams’ court in order to use this forum to dispense an important message.

In addressing such a polarizing comment, Woods didn’t say anything wrong, but that doesn’t mean he said everything right. This was an opportunity for him to show some emotion, to speak with fervor and passion about a subject that receives too little attention in golf.

Instead, Woods once again produced answers that were informative without ever revealing too much. He mowed down the questions like a series of uphill 2-footers, but in reality these were lengthy triple-breakers, the kind which require a little extra time and effort in order to acquire the most positive result.

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Lyle going through 'scary' period in cancer recovery

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:58 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Jarrod Lyle's wife says the Australian golfer is struggling through a ''really scary'' period in his third battle with cancer.

Lyle, 36, underwent a bone marrow transplant last December following a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia.

''It's been 190 days since Jarrod's stem-cell transplant and we are going through a really rough patch at the moment,'' Briony Lyle wrote on jarrodlylegolf.com. ''I'm typing this blog on his behalf because he's not able to do it. Jarrod's not able to drive, struggles to prepare any food for himself, can't read stories to the girls and is not able to offer much help at all around the house.

''He is also starting to look like a very frail, sick person.''

Briony Lyle added: ''We are both very aware of the amount of drugs and medication that has gone into Jarrod's body over the years but things are starting to get really scary at the moment. It looks as if this recovery is going to be the longest and hardest one so far.''

Lyle has twice beaten acute myeloid leukemia, in 1998 and 2012, and was able to return to play professional golf.

He made an emotional comeback to the golf course during the 2013 Australian Masters in Melbourne before using a medical exemption to play on the PGA Tour in 2015. He played four seasons on Tour, where he earned $1.875 million in 121 tournaments.

Lyle has since returned to Australia permanently to be with Briony and daughters Lusi and Jemma.

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Vermeer wins PGA Professional; 20 make PGA Championship

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

SEASIDE, Calif. – Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday, overcoming front-nine problems to top the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship.

The 40-year-old Vermeer, the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, closed with a 1-over 73 on the Bayonet Course for a two-stroke victory over Sean McCarty and Bob Sowards.

The PGA Championship is in August at Bellerive in St. Louis.

Three strokes ahead entering the day, Vermeer played the front in 4 over with a double bogey on the par-4 second and bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-4 eighth. He rebounded with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th and also birdied the par-5 18th.

Full-field scores from the PGA Professional Championship

Vermeer finished at 5-under 283. The former University of Kansas player earned $55,000. He won the 2017 Mizuno Pro/Assistant Championship and finished ninth last year in the PGA Professional to qualify for PGA at Quail Hollow.

McCarty had a 68, and Sowards shot 69. Sowards won the 2004 title.

David Muttitt and Jason Schmuhl tied for fourth at 1 under, and 2012 and 2015 champion Matt Dobyns, Jaysen Hansen, and Johan Kok followed at even par.

Marty Jertson, Brian Smock and Ben Kern were 1 over, and Zach Johnson, Craig Hocknull, Matt Borchert and 2016 winner Rich Berberian Jr. were 2 over. Nine players tied at 3 over, with Shawn Warren, 2017 champion Omar Uresti, 2014 winner Michael Block, Craig Bowden and Danny Balin getting the last five spots at Bellerive in a playoff. Balin got the final spot, beating Brian Norman with a par on the seventh extra hole after Norman lost a ball in a tree.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”