Tiger's Catch 22

By Jason SobelOctober 10, 2011, 2:06 pm

Maybe it’s the nature of our instant-gratification society. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s such a polarizing figure. Whatever the case, every time Tiger Woods produces a single maneuver on the golf course, the masses are quick to either proclaim, “He’s back!” or, “He’s done!”

These declarations often aren’t proffered after witnessing the sum total from an entire golf tournament or even a full round. They can be pronounced on a shot-by-shot basis. A stiffed iron shot means “he’s back”; a wayward drive means “he’s done.” Even the stock market doesn’t see that kind of volatility.

It’s all a matter of opinion, of course, and following Woods’ tie for 30th at the Frys.com Open this past weekend, the two camps remain as divided as ever.

I believe Woods is going to win again. I’m certain of it. OK, fairly certain. At least, I think I’m fairly certain.

Excuse the vacillating, but I thought Tiger was “back” when he returned to competition at last year’s Masters and finished in a share of fourth place. And again when he posted five birdies on the back nine in the third round of last year’s U.S. Open. And when he peeled off a final-round 65 at the Australian Masters. And when he blistered Francesco Molinari in their Ryder Cup singles match.

He’s put together glimpses of the past in individual swings and putts, in multiple-hole stretches, even during full rounds. In his most recent appearance, he performed admirably for multiple rounds, following an opening 2-over 73 with three consecutive identical scores of 68. Afterward, he was predictably upbeat about what it all meant.

“I got better every day,” said Woods, who finished the week tied for seventh in total birdies. “And I hit a lot of good putts the last three days, which is good, and it was nice to make that adjustment there on the putting green after Thursday's round. I felt very comfortable, and I just need to keep staying the course. The game's coming.”

Now the $1 million question – literally – may revolve less around “if” than “when” the erstwhile No. 1-ranked player will once again reach the winner’s circle.

Here’s my theory: It will come when we least expect it, when nobody is paying agonizingly close attention to him, when there is far less scrutiny on his every machination than there is right now.

The only problem? We still haven’t reached the point where Tiger teeing it up isn’t a major news story in itself, independent of how he actually fares. While many observers will contend that shouldn’t be the case, it’s simple supply and demand. More coverage of Woods’ rounds is demanded and so the various media outlets supply the content.

Makes sense, too. If his career is a three-hour movie, we’re only 90 minutes into it right now. The second half may be a triumph over self-infused adversity or a tragic drama. Either way, nobody is walking out of the theater just yet.

All of which makes it even more intriguing to focus on Woods. Playing under the intense spotlight is no problem when you’re hitting 300-yard drives on a string and holing everything inside 20 feet, but it can burn when the going gets tough. Despite dropping to 52nd in the world and failing to win a title in nearly two full years, he still draws the largest crowds on the PGA Tour.

Heck, players not named Tiger don’t have hot dogs thrown at them in the middle of rounds – and yes, that happened to Woods on Sunday.

While he may be accustomed to life under the microscope – both on and off the course – it has to pose a greater problem than it would for most other pros who could work through struggles with their games in comparative anonymity.

Two months ago, when Woods returned to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after a three-month absence due to injury, I asked him whether he was ever surprised at the large galleries that continue to follow him, even when his A-game hasn’t followed him to the course.

“I think it's great they just came out, period,” he said. “It's great to have them come out and support the event. This is a big event, and whether they're following me or someone else, it's great to have them out here.”

Great? Sure, but likely not beneficial to the cause. I’ve always believed that whenever Tiger is playing, there are not only more distractions, but it becomes a more stressful situation, with increased fans, media, security and – as a result – greater tension.

It’s not an easy environment in which to play proficient golf, which may have more to do with Tiger’s previous domination over playing partners than any perceived “intimidation factor.” Even for a guy accustomed to that spotlight, trying to regain his former elite status in front of discerning eyes must be an exceedingly difficult task.

End result? Consider it the ultimate Catch-22. Woods may not return to his previous form until the spotlight dims, but there’s no sign of anyone shining it away from him anytime soon.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

View this post on Instagram

Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

View this post on Instagram

How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

Getty Images

Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).



Here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

FILM 1

Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


FILM 2

Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


FILM 3

Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

Getty Images

Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

Getty Images

USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.