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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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit

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Maggert and Parnevik lead at Bass Pro Shops

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 10:49 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik shot an 8-under 63 in better-ball play Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' chilly Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

''It was very relaxing for me because I felt like terrible,'' Parnevik said. ''I was so stiff this morning. It was freezing cold. I thought if I can just try to make some pars in case he ever makes a bogey, but I didn't even have to do that.''

Playing together for the first time in the team event, Maggert and Parnevik eagled the par-5 eighth and had six birdies in the cool and breezy conditions on Big Cedar Lodge's Buffalo Ridge course.

''We play well together,'' Maggert said. ''We both contributed a lot. Jesper had a lot of birdies and an eagle on our final nine. It was so cold this morning, I just was going to come out and just try to hit fairways and greens. Really I wasn't thinking about making birdies, I was just trying to play steady and give myself an opportunity to have some birdie putts.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

The next three rounds will be played on par-3 courses. Maggert and Parnevik will play the 18-hole Top of the Rock on Friday and Sunday, and the 13-hole Mountain Top on Saturday.

Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were a stroke back. They also eagled No. 8. Austin won the 2016 title with Michael Allen. Calcavecchia won the Boca Raton Championship this year.

''I lucked in a few birdies on the back, but it was tough, tough conditions,'' Calcavecchia said. ''Even when it warmed up a little bit, it was still tough to make birdies out there. All in all, 7 under's a pretty good start.''

Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman were at 65 along with Davis Love III-Scott Verplank, 2015 winners Billy Andrade-Joe Durant, Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett and Steve Flesch-David Toms.

''We kind of brother-in-lawed or ham-and-egged it or partnered it,'' Love said. ''Neither one of us were playing great, but we had one guy in every hole and that's kind of what you have to do. We're going to have to go to the par 3 courses and get two birdie putts on a hole is what you really want to do and we didn't do that enough today.''

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week for his first senior title.

Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were tied for 22nd at 68.

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Dredge, Quiros share early lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 8:41 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Bradley Dredge reeled off three birdies in his last five holes to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros after the opening round of the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II event Thursday.

Quiros finished with two straight birdies as the big-hitting Spaniard joined Welshman Dredge on 5-under-par 67.

Dredge, who made seven birdies in all, has won twice before but his last triumph came in 2006.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Quiros, who has claimed seven victories, last won at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily last year.

The joint leaders have a one-shot advantage over Oliver Fisher, Joakim Lagergren, Erik Van Rooyen and Lorenzo Gagli at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

Former U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett, without a win since his victory at Augusta two years ago, opened with a 1-over 73.