Advice to Tiger: Get healthy at any cost

By John FeinsteinAugust 4, 2014, 7:50 pm

The sight of Tiger Woods limping to a golf cart, in serious pain on Sunday, was painful to watch.

At that moment – and at this moment – liking or disliking Woods is irrelevant. He is one of the great athletes of our lifetime and watching him fight a losing battle – at least right now – with his body is no fun for anyone. For the record: if he attempts to play the PGA Championship this week, regardless of what doctors tell him, he’s crazy. He needs to rest his back for a long time and build it back up slowly and hope that he can have a born-again career beginning next year at age 39.

Woods needs to forget about Jack Nicklaus. He needs to forget about winning a 15th major and absolutely forget about meeting obligations to sponsors; cancel all contracts, if need be.

He needs to figure out a way to be healthy again for an extended period of time. Sunday’s walk-off at Firestone was Woods’ fifth since May 2010. Golf isn’t football. Players rarely suffer an injury so serious that they can’t finish a round.

Healthy doesn’t mean playing through pain or feeling good enough to give it a try. Healthy means pain free and feeling as if you’re able to do anything you want to do with a golf club in your hands. Because back problems tend to be chronic for anyone, but especially for golfers, Woods may not be able to get there. But he needs to at least make a serious attempt.

He needs to tell his agent, Mark Steinberg, to not call him to talk business. He needs to tell his sponsors to go away for a while, and he needs to cancel those overseas commitments for appearance fees. He doesn’t need the money. He needs to be healthy.

When Woods showed to play in Washington, D.C., in late June at the tournament that benefits his foundation, some health experts were surprised. On March 31, Woods had undergone a microdiscetomy on his back, a procedure designed to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve. Many doctors said then that an elite athlete usually returns to compete in “three-to-four months.” But they all added it might be months afterward before the patient would be anywhere close to 100 percent.

Woods is an elite athlete, but he is a 38-year-old elite athlete who has had four knee surgeries, has put huge pressure on his back with his abnormally violent golf swing, and has built up his upper body to a point where it is almost difficult for him to carry all the muscle he has developed.

One option was to take the rest of the year off. But Woods wanted to appease a new sponsor for his D.C. tournament. Regardless of what occurred in the back rooms here’s what did happen in public: Friday before the event at Congressional, Woods dramatically announced he would play the following week. Three days later, he made it clear that he would not have played that week if not for his involvement in the event.

He then missed the cut by four shots (only the 10th missed cut of his 19-year professional career) and declared that he was pain free and optimistic about his recovery. At the British Open three weeks later, he talked about being more “explosive,” with his swing. He then played one good round and three bad ones. The pattern was continuing at Firestone before the swing-now-seen-a-million-times took place Sunday on the second hole.

He’d hit a poor tee shot on the second hole, giving himself an awkward lie in thick grass on the front side of a fairway bunker. In hindsight given that he wasn’t going anywhere in the golf tournament, he probably should have declared the ball unplayable rather than put his back at risk by taking a swing which he couldn’t complete without falling backward. When he did go backward, he landed awkwardly in the bunker and that was pretty much that.

Again, one has to wonder about decision-making here: Once he felt the pain run through his lower back, why did he try to play through it? To what end? You’re still recovering from major back surgery and you feel pain like that, why keep playing? Maybe try another swing or two to see if the spasm eases up, but when it doesn’t, get out of there. Playing six more holes was foolish. There was nothing to gain. It wasn’t as if walking off was anything new for him: get off the course and get treatment. Someone should have stopped him.

Maybe this will turn out to have just been a bad spasm but even if that’s all it is, it’s a sign that the back is not completely healthy. What’s more, it doesn’t seem like there’s a way to go out and play golf without putting himself at risk.

When Woods came back in June he claimed that he had learned his lesson from this experience; that he wasn’t going to fight pain anymore to come back too quickly; that he was more mature now and had learned to let his body heal.

Those words sound empty right now. Woods needs someone to sit him down, look him in the eye and tell him this may be his last chance to get healthy – truly healthy. If he does that, he can still be a great player in his 40s. Others have done that in golf. But if he keeps pushing to return too soon, as he has done repeatedly in the past, his days of greatness might be over.

And that would be a sad ending.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.