Hot Seat: Feel the heat

By Randall MellJanuary 3, 2012, 4:30 pm

Welcome to golf’s Hot Seat.

Once a week, the aim is to gauge who is feeling the most heat to perform going into a tournament or major championship.

This week, though, the look ahead spans the entire season.

Here’s our Hot Seat index:

Smoldering pants: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, at his best, made the guys teeing it up with him feel like somebody rubbed Deep Heat in their jockeys.

He was a human thermostat able to turn up the heat on foes like nobody since Jack Nicklaus.

A final-round Sunday pairing with Woods was once only slightly less daunting than sitting through an IRS audit.

His 36th birthday in his rear-view mirror, Woods faces the audit now with so many young stars looking to measure themselves against him in late Sunday duels, young stars who built their confidence while Woods did them a big favor getting out of their way.

With five more major championship titles to be won to top Nicklaus’ record, the heat is on Woods to show he can build on his Chevron World Challenge title last month. Fourteen major championships have passed since Woods won his last major at the U.S. Open in 2008, though he’s only played in 10 of them. Still, 14 majors have never passed in the Woods era without a Woods title. The longest previous dry spell was 10.

Time isn’t on Woods' side anymore. Though his knee is feeling better, we don’t know how it will hold up in his bid to pass Nicklaus. That ratchets up the temperature in trying to get there sooner rather than later.

Phil Mickelson

A summer at the Equator: Phil Mickelson

Yeah, sure, he’ll be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May, but Mickelson would love to make the folks in St. Augustine expand his exhibit in the future.

Mickelson wants to win the career grand slam before he retires, but, at 41, there’s the possibility he’s old for his age with psoriatic arthritis an issue. Mickelson needs to win the U.S. Open and British Open to claim all four of golf’s majors and become just the sixth player since the Masters began to win the career slam.

The U.S. Open is at the Olympic Club outside San Francisco this year. Mickelson tied for 10th the last time the U.S. Open was played there in '98. The British Open is at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Mickelson tied for 40th there in '96 and tied for 30th there in '01.

Luke Donald

Death Valley discomfort: Luke Donald

Donald may be No. 1 in the world rankings, but he’s also the best player in the world who hasn’t won a major.

There’s an invisible asterisk with any major-less No. 1.

Can you lay claim to being the best in the world when you have been shut out in the four most important events in the game? The question turns up the temperature on Donald in this year’s majors. He’s 0 for 34 trying to win one.

Lee Westwood

Sahara heat: Lee Westwood

The former No. 1 wants that title back, and he would love to take it back winning his first major. At 38, Westwood’s still got time, but the clock’s ticking faster. He’s 0 for 55 in majors.

Davis Love III

Jalapeno spicy: Davis Love III

The United States will be looking to win back the Ryder Cup on its home turf in Medinah in September after losing four of the last five Ryder Cups and six of the last eight. As the American captain, Love faces the wonder of Ryder Cup captaincy: He will be celebrated as a genius or panned as a dunce. Depends on the outcome. That’s typically the brutal nature of Ryder Cup captaincy.

Rickie Fowler

Subtropical humidity: Rickie Fowler

Fowler just turned 24, but with a profile as high as his, there’s a downside to having no wins to show all those folks who think there’s too much hype.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”