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Keys to Tiger's return (including cutting him some slack)

By Phil BlackmarOctober 24, 2017, 3:22 pm

Like a forecasted volcanic eruption where every seismic tremor is analyzed to try and narrow down the actual eruption, Tiger tremors emanating from posted swing videos are now careening off the internet with a fury only a possible return can generate.

Next comes swing breakdowns ad nauseam where “experts” weigh in to tell us why his swing will not hold up and his back will blow out again. Arguments will erupt on Twitter and potentially on television because of energy created by the frenzy. It’s safe to say 99.9 percent of the golf world wants Tiger Woods to return, not just to play again, but to satisfy our unquenchable thirst to get another glimpse of his greatness. 

What will be the keys to his success should he return? The debate will include his swing, the supposed short game yips, his putting and many will wonder if his failing body can withstand the rigors of practice and competition. While these are all valid considerations, is there more that will determine his success if he is physically able to return?

It’s going to begin with whether he can find a one-way miss. People can argue mechanics until the end of time, but there is a reason most swings in the top 50 in the world rankings don’t fit the perfect mold; there is no mold. Since many consider Ben Hogan the most consistent ball striker of all time, let’s understand what he did. He bent his clubs flat, put a reminder in the grips to keep his grip weak, used stiff shafts and the faces on this clubs sat open.

Why? Because he didn’t want the ball to go left and he wanted a one-way miss. To borrow a phrase from Paul Azinger: “If you know you're not going to miss left, why would you ever miss right?”

The value of FEELING like you will not lose the ball one direction allows for swinging freely and with conviction even if lacking confidence. A one-way miss is a vehicle that can overcome fear and anxiety. There is only one person who knows what he needs to feel for a one-way miss and that’s Tiger. So, break it down all you want but know that no one person can feel for another. 

Next is attitude. No, attitude is not positive-ness. The right attitude, when it comes to competing at Tiger’s level is: optimistic, opportunistic, enthusiastic, strong, resilient, unwavering, fearless, accepting, patient and has a certain look in the eyes accompanied by a certain body language. Many of these attributes require reps to work and find them. It’s an attitude earned that, no matter Tiger’s greatness, cannot be assumed to come back. It will take him time, so cut him some slack. 

Tiger’s greatness was not born merely of being the best and longest ball striker. Tiger had an unworldly grasp on the nuances of trajectory control, distance control, combining modern golf with old-school shots, flighted wedges, impeccable touch and incredible pressure putting. Nuances made Tiger great. Nuances are not found in mechanics; nuances are found in practice with a willingness to look for them. Like the one-way miss, no one can feel what these nuanced shots feel like to Tiger. For this reason, it’s imperative that he takes an approach to coming back that is not founded just in his swing, but allows the freedom for experimentation with these hidden aspects of the game so that he can uncover and master them again. No teacher can do this work for him; this is a journey only Tiger can take.

Then, of course, there is the mind. In his prime, Tiger intentionally created a persona that instilled, at the very least, apprehension, and at full throttle, fear in his fellow competitors. These young guys like Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, along with a cast of others, have won a lot of tournaments in Tiger’s absence and their top-dog servomechanism is off the charts.

It is highly unlikely that Tiger will enjoy this same fearful respect he earned earlier in his career and that puts more pressure on his mental game than he’s ever felt. In his prime, he spoke of using meditation to develop his mental approach. Surely, there are also other mental secrets his father shared or taught Tiger along the way. Whatever processes Tiger may have used in the past to develop his persona, belief and overall mental game, it’s imperative he dedicates himself to these once again if he is to succeed at a level of which he will be proud.

Then there is his legacy, the final aspect of this saga. Already tarnished with injury and off-course struggles, Tiger’s legacy is at further risk if he comes back. He has recently shown an interest in helping the U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams to victory as well as establishing closer bonds with players than he did earlier in his career. Such acts and involvement help to return some of the lost luster. But if he goes out to play, he subjects his legacy to more fallout if he fails. Although we didn’t think so at one time, Tiger is human and at the mercy of many of the same feelings you and I endure. Early in his career, he mastered defeating those feelings. However, with absence of competition and Father Time chasing him down, winning those battles will be tough, even for Tiger. 

Fans want him back. Players want him back. If he decides to put it all on the line, how about we cut him some slack by understanding it’s a process that will take time and will not happen overnight? No matter what you may think, he’s earned that right.

For more from Phil Blackmar's blog, click here.

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2018 NCAA Golf Championships TV Schedule

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:29 pm

Golf Channel will shine a spotlight on college golf across the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships. With more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater Oklahoma (Monday-Wednesday May 21-23 and May 28-30), Golf Channel’s coverage connects 18 straight days of live tournament golf.

Watch live coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships beginning Monday, May 21 at 4pm ET on Golf Channel and streaming.

Keep up with the social media conversation by following Golf Channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join in by using #NCAAGolf 

Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 21: Individual National Championship  4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22:Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 23:Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)


Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 28: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 30: Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

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AT&T Byron Nelson purse payout: Wise a millionaire

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:05 pm

PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise earned his first Tour title on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Trinity Forest:

1 Aaron Wise -23 $1,386,000
2 Marc Leishman -20 $831,600
T3 Branden Grace -19 $400,400
T3 J.J. Spaun -19 $400,400
T3 Keith Mitchell -19 $400,400
T6 Ryan Blaum -16 $257,950
T6 Kevin Na -16 $257,950
T6 Jimmy Walker -16 $257,950
T9 Adam Scott -15 $207,900
T9 Charles Howell III -15 $207,900
T9 Kevin Tway -15 $207,900
12 Brian Gay -14 $177,100
T13 Rory Sabbatini -13 $148,867
T13 Ethan Tracy -13 $148,867
T13 Matt Jones -13 $148,867
T16 Russell Knox -12 $115,500
T16 Hideki Matsuyama -12 $115,500
T16 Bronson Burgoon -12 $115,500
T16 Derek Fathauer -12 $115,500
T16 Joel Dahmen -12 $115,500
T21 Jordan Spieth -11 $80,080
T21 Billy Horschel -11 $80,080
T21 Robert Garrigus -11 $80,080
T21 Peter Uihlein -11 $80,080
T21 Martin Piller -11 $80,080
T26 Tyler Duncan -10 $55,825
T26 Anirban Lahiri -10 $55,825
T26 Parker McLachlin -10 $55,825
T26 Martin Flores -10 $55,825
T26 J.T. Poston -10 $55,825
T26 Shawn Stefani -10 $55,825
T32 Cody Gribble -9 $39,116
T32 Johnson Wagner -9 $39,116
T32 Geoff Ogilvy -9 $39,116
T32 Nick Taylor -9 $39,116
T32 C.T. Pan -9 $39,116
T32 Scott Piercy -9 $39,116
T32 Nicholas Lindheim -9 $39,116
T32 Fabian Gomez -9 $39,116
T32 Beau Hossler -9 $39,116
T32 Nate Lashley -9 $39,116
T42 Zac Blair -8 $23,184
T42 Abraham Ancer -8 $23,184
T42 Maverick McNealy -8 $23,184
T42 Denny McCarthy -8 $23,184
T42 Jonathan Byrd -8 $23,184
T42 Eric Axley -8 $23,184
T42 Sam Ryder -8 $23,184
T42 Brian Stuard -8 $23,184
T42 J.B. Holmes -8 $23,184
T42 Sung-hoon Kang -8 $23,184
T42 Andrew Putnam -8 $23,184
T53 Ben Crane -7 $17,659
T53 Steve Wheatcroft -7 $17,659
T53 Troy Merritt -7 $17,659
T53 Patrick Rodgers -7 $17,659
T53 Corey Conners -7 $17,659
T53 Robert Streb -7 $17,659
T59 Ryan Armour -6 $16,632
T59 Peter Malnati -6 $16,632
T59 Vaughn Taylor -6 $16,632
T59 Dominic Bozzelli -6 $16,632
T59 Adam Schenk -6 $16,632
T59 Hudson Swafford -6 $16,632
T59 Michael Thompson -6 $16,632
T66 Matt Atkins -5 $15,862
T66 Roberto Diaz -5 $15,862
T66 T.J. Vogel -5 $15,862
69 Sang-Moon Bae -4 $15,554
T70 Tom Lovelady -3 $15,246
T70 Cameron Percy -3 $15,246
T70 Rod Pampling -3 $15,246
73 Brian Davis -1 $14,938
74 Mark Wilson 1 $14,784
75 Robert Allenby 2 $14,630
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Howell, Uihlein qualify for U.S. Open via OWGR

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 11:02 am

Charles Howell III and Peter Uihlein both used strong play at the AT&T Byron Nelson to maintain their positions inside the top 60 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, thereby ensuring exemptions to next month's U.S. Open.

Howell moved up three spots to No. 56 in the world thanks to a T-9 finish at Trinity Forest. He'll make his 10th career U.S. Open appearance, but just his second since 2009. Howell missed the cut at Olympic in 2012.

Uihlein finished T-21 in Dallas, which was barely enough to hold onto a top-60 spot as he actually fell two positions to No. 59. The former U.S. Amateur champ will make his third U.S. Open appearance and second in as many years.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

The drama for the final spot came down to the wire on Sunday, where Adam Scott's bid to unseat Chesson Hadley at No. 60 came up just short. Needing a solo ninth-place finish, Scott ended up in a three-way tie for ninth to begin the new week at No. 61. Hadley, who didn't play the Nelson, remained No. 60 and will make his U.S. Open debut.

Others to punch tickets to Shinnecock Hills include No. 52 Luke List, No. 53 Chez Reavie and No. 57 Dylan Frittelli. A second and final top-60 cutoff will be done based off the June 11 world rankings following the FedEx St. Jude Classic, with U.S. Open sectional qualifying conducted in England and the U.S. on June 4.

The only change among the top 10 in the rankings this week came at No. 10, where Paul Casey moved past Tommy Fleetwood despite an off week for both players. Justin Thomas remains world No. 1 for a second week, followed by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6, with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Casey rounding out the top 10.

Taking the week off following a T-11 finish at The Players Championship, Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 82.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray

On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta

On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard