Today Was a Good Day
If you can call it a good day when your neighbors hire an attorney and he holds a news conference to say that it did not look like your wife had bashed you in the face with a golf club before you drove into a fire hydrant and a tree . . .
If you can call it a good day when the New York Post runs a two-page spread in which a woman you were alleged to have been seeing vehemently denies an extramarital affair with you . . .
If you can call it a good day when the Florida Highway Patrol calls a news conference to announce they are issuing you a traffic citation for careless driving . . .
The bottom line Tuesday is that Woods’ legal problems appear to be over. That was the good news.
“We are pleased with the outcome,” Woods’ attorney, Mark NeJame told GolfChannel.com. “Other than that, I have no further comment, except that it is over.”
NeJame emphasized the words “it is over.”
The Florida Highway Patrol emphatically stated that the investigation is complete, and they will not pursue any other charges.
Orange County Sheriff’s officials, who also have jurisdiction, said Tuesday that they are not investigating and have no plans to do so.
The penalty Woods will pay for driving his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his Isleworth mansion early Friday morning amounts to a $164 traffic ticket, four points posted on his driving record and whatever damage and insurance costs he’s liable to pay.
We don’t know the larger price Woods is paying, the frustration of being the focus of such an intense attempt to breach the walls of the personal life he so fiercely guards.
Is it over? The police are done investigating, but the story threatens to linger with so many media outlets that do not normally cover golf still doing their own investigating. Yet another supermarket tabloid is threatening to release a story Wednesday that won’t make Woods look good.
This legal matter is over, but there’s the court of public opinion Woods must contend with as he eventually makes his way back into the limelight.
There’s still the question of what really happened that night and the fiercely divided opinion over what we do and don’t have a right to know.
To be sure, Woods has a wealth of supporters, those who believe nothing about the crash opens a door for our leering into his personal matters. There’s strong sentiment to leave him alone, that what happened between he and his wife is none of anyone’s business.
There are others who wonder whether they would have received the same traffic citation and been investigated the same if they had been found going in and out of consciousness while lying in the road beside an automobile they had crashed at 2:25 a.m.
“Despite the celebrity status of Mr. Woods, the Florida Highway Patrol has completed its investigation in the same professional manner it strives to complete each traffic crash investigation,” FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said. “Although our approach may vary depending on the circumstances, Mr. Woods’ status in no way impacted our investigation results or conclusions.”
Of course, Woods’ celebrity status impacts the media investigation in every way.
If Woods were running for president, for any political office, or if he were benefiting in some way espousing family values, the digging that’s going on into Woods’ domestic life might seem noble, but nothing about the digging here feels noble.
Tom Watson said earlier this year that the responsibilities of starting a family, the contentment money brings and injury were the greatest threats to Woods as he bids to overtake Jack Nicklaus’ record for most professional major championship victories. There’s something else. There’s the burden of fame. It’s growing larger for Woods in all of this. While it seems nothing will stop his quest to be remembered as the greatest player ever, Woods might not linger around long after breaking Nicklaus’ mark. He may disappear more quickly than we ever expected to find the privacy he so relishes.
Now that will probably seem like a really good day to Woods, a great escape with Nicklaus’ record.
Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey
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.
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.”
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
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.”
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.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
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.”
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.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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