Much has changed since Thanksgiving 2009, but not Tiger

By John FeinsteinNovember 29, 2011, 8:56 pm

Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing the day after Thanksgiving two years ago. At some point during that afternoon, either on the Internet, TV or from a phone call, we heard that Tiger Woods had been involved in a minor accident early that morning.

No one knew that day how much that collision with a fire hydrant would change Woods’ life or how the ensuing seismic shock waves would resonate through the entire game of golf.

Now we know.

Woods has never been the same golfer. His personal life was blown to bits. His image took a hit that will never recover regardless of how many more majors he might win or sponsorship deals he might sign.

Golf has never been the same either. No longer does PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem proudly proclaim that the most famous and popular athlete in the world plays our game. No longer is every major reduced to a simple formula: Do you want Tiger or the field?

The question most asked about Woods’ golf game has gone from, “Will the man EVER miss a clutch putt?” to “Will he ever MAKE a clutch putt again?”

Everything, it seems, has changed. Except for one thing: Tiger Woods.

Even as he continues to keep the world at arm’s length, the only thing about Woods that is transparent is his transparency. He said he would be different, that he had learned a lot about himself and his failings in rehab. He was going to show more respect for the game; try to be more open and accommodating with fans and the media. He asked Finchem to stand behind him when he made his first public appearance and the commissioner – much to the dismay of many – did that. The implication, at the very least, was that Woods would be more supportive of Finchem’s Tour in the future.

Finchem’s one specific request was for Woods to announce where he was playing in advance so tournament directors and sponsors could use Woods’ presence to sell tickets and punch up corporate sales. Woods complied for a few months then went back to his secretive ways of the past.

Woods told the world he was sorry. He put his hand on his chest and clearly said, “I am SO sorry.”

One could almost picture him standing in front of a mirror rehearsing those words, putting his hand on his heart at the precise moment when he got to the word, ‘sorry.’

And he was sorry. Sorry he got caught. Sorry he had to act, for a little while at least, as if he had been humbled. Sorry he had to say he was wrong about anything, very sorry that the debacle affected his golf game.

He fired his swing coach. He fired his management company, and then fired his caddie.

His newfound ‘respect’ for the game lasted as long as his promise to Finchem. If the old Tiger didn’t come back when he was standing over a putt, it came back when he missed putts or mishit shots.

He continued to sign autographs at a rate of about one to every 1,000 Phil Mickelson signed. His mastery of the non-answer continued unabated. His priorities are still difficult to decipher. He talks constantly about the need for “more reps,” to get his golf swing where he wants it, then disappears from the game for lengthy periods. He could have played in Greensboro to give himself the chance to play in the PGA Tour playoffs but opted out using “family obligations,” as the excuse.

Completely healthy now he has played three times since the PGA Championship in August: Once, at Fred Couples request, in a Fall Series event to justify Couples selecting him for the Presidents Cup; once for a huge appearance fee in Australia; once in the Presidents Cup. He will play this week in an 18-man exhibition that he hosts for a considerable fee.

He won’t begin 2012 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, where he has started most years during his career, has won seven times and was the host of his last major title, the 2008 U.S. Open. Instead, he will go to Abu Dhabi for a $3 million appearance fee. That money will replace the money he received in the past to go to Dubai.

Why did he choose Abu Dhabi over San Diego and Dubai? His website says it is because he likes to travel to different places. If you believe that, you will be trying to stay awake waiting for Santa Claus to arrive on Christmas Eve. The change was simple: Dubai is sponsored by Omega. Woods just signed a new deal with Rolex. Woods may not be loyal to many people but he is loyal to those who pay him.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with making a business decision. Even for Woods, $3 million is a lot of money and, as he continues his rehab in the corporate world, it is understandable that he’d want to keep a new corporate sponsor happy.

One of the most honest moments in Woods’ life came in 2002 watching it rain during a pre-tournament practice round for the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. A member of Bethpage’s grounds crew caddied for him that day and, while they were waiting out some rain, he said to Woods, “It must be great to travel all over the world the way you do.”

Woods looked at him and said: “I get to see a lot of airports, a lot of high-priced hotels and a lot of golf courses. That’s it.”

Candor like that wasn’t often a part of who Tiger Woods was back then. It isn’t part of who he is now. He is the same person today as he was before that fire hydrant intervened two years ago.

That moment changed Woods’ life forever. It changed golf forever.

But it didn’t change Tiger Woods at all.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

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:

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Finally got it down lol

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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.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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