Sixty Hellish Days

By Randall MellDecember 1, 2009, 6:41 am
WINDERMERE, Fla. – When will Tiger Woods play next now that he has withdrawn from the Chevron World Challenge?

That wasn’t the compelling question after the news broke Monday.

With his tournament news conference now canceled, the question is when will Woods next speak publicly and what will he say?
Tiger Woods is facing a challenge unlike any on the golf course. (Getty Images)
That’s how upside down golf has turned since Woods crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and tree outside his Isleworth mansion early Friday morning. For the first time more of us will be hanging on how straight and true his words ring than his tee shots fly.

He likely won’t play a tournament until the Century Club of San Diego Invitational, which begins on Jan. 28.

That’s 60 days.

Check that. That’s 60 hellish days if Woods doesn’t address the mysterious circumstances surrounding his crash.

You know who will relish those two months if Woods remains silent about the events that night of the crash? TMZ, National Enquirer, Star Magazine, People and other celebrity news and tabloid journalism outlets. They’ll be more than delighted to try to fill in the missing details Woods won’t provide.

In a bygone era, it might not have mattered, but celebrity news publications, supermarket tabloids and their Web sites are flourishing in a time when newspapers are going out of business and television news departments are slashing their staffs. People are getting their news in different ways now. It may be problematic, but it’s a fact of life.

Woods, 33, has been an exemplary role model in the more than decade that he’s ruled over his sport. Outside some cursing over bad shots and a few angrily tossed clubs, he’s avoided the pitfalls that have tarnished the images of so many stars of other sports.

An important question mainstream journalists must wrestle with in covering this story is over Woods’ right to privacy.

Even as a public figure, where does Woods’ right to privacy end and our right to know begin?

How much do we really have the right to know about what happened that night?

You can argue that whenever someone uses his popularity for profit, he forfeits a measure of privacy. When you allow your image to be used to sell golf clubs, cars or whatever, you are telling the public that the product is worth buying because of who you are. That opens the door fairly to the question: “Who the hell are you? Are you who we think you are?”

You can argue that when you use your popularity to profit, you’re making shareholders of the public who buy into you. They’re investing in you when they cheer for you or buy the products you are endorsing. They believe as shareholders they have a right to know you.

For some of us, that sounds good, but it’s also baloney.

It’s rationalizing because we know what’s really driving the demand to know what happened to Woods that night.

There’s an element of human nature that wants to know the most intimate details about our neighbors. “Hey, did you hear what happened to Johnny Doe’s wife?” It’s that simple. It’s what fuels celebrity sites and tabloid journalism. They wouldn’t be in business if people weren’t so eager to buy what they’re selling.

Woods’ determination to protect his family and personal life has always seemed noble, but even that’s being twisted in this maelstrom. The harder he fights to protect his privacy through this, the more he appears to be hiding something that’s less than noble.

For such a fiercely private man, this has to be agonizing. His wife, his two young children, they’re affected by all this, too.

The longer Woods goes without giving an explanation, the more painful the innuendo. Of course, there could be more pain explaining.

That’s the agonizing dilemma Woods faces between now and the 60 days before he tees it up in his next tournament.
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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”