A couple of firsts highlight this week’s edition, starting with news that Tiger Woods took his first few swings with a driver following back surgery in April, and a surreal cancellation of a round in Peru because of a census, of all things.
Road to recovery. Woods’ doctor cleared him for all golf activities last week, now it would seem his possible return to competition will depend on how clear-headed he chooses to be this time.
Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg told GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champion recently met with his doctor who performed his back surgery in April, and that he hasn’t experienced any pain in his most recent comeback.
The news dovetailed with a video on social media of Woods hitting a driver. Not bad for a guy who just three weeks ago at the Presidents Cup said he was limited to hitting 60-yard wedge shots.
The conversation now turns to his possible return, with some speculating he may be ready in time to play December’s Hero World Challenge, which Woods hosts and is played on a golf course in the Bahamas he’s comfortable on.
That may be a tad too ambitious, and to be honest, if Woods is being as cautious as Steinberg said, it may be time to rethink an entirely new schedule and play courses that are a little more user friendly.
We hear Scottsdale, Ariz., and La Quinta, Calif., are beautiful in January.
Tweet of the week:
That’s a swing he could win with, it’s not across the line and stuck inside coming down, a little stiff looking but it’s good enough https://t.co/ZlVyyCKG3H— Hank Haney (@HankHaney) October 16, 2017
Haney, Woods’ former swing coach, was commenting on Tiger’s swing with his driver, which threatened to break the internet. It’s an encouraging sign for Woods, and golf, that he’s back putting in the “reps,” but let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves.
New boss. Fred Ridley moved into a new office on Monday, taking over as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club after Billy Payne announced he was stepping down earlier this fall.
In his first meeting with golf writers as chairman this week, Ridley said there’s no perfect way to prepare for such a gig; but the former U.S. Amateur champion seems to have amassed the right resume.
An accomplished amateur and college player, Ridley opted for a career as a lawyer over that of a professional golfer and ascended to president of the USGA before taking over as chairman of the Masters competition committee for the last decade.
He also had the perfect mentor in Payne.
“Billy Payne is the best person that I have ever met with regard to the importance of relationships with others,” Ridley said. “If you listen to him speak, he always talks about the other person. He always points the light in another direction, and he probably, more than anyone I've ever met, understands the importance and the power of relationships.”
Ridley will certainly bring his own stamp to the job, but there’s no denying that he was groomed to be chairman.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Far and wide. The PGA Tour broke new ground this week, hosting its first stroke-play event in South Korea as part of the circuit’s three-tournament Asia swing.
The inaugural CJ Cup is off to a solid start with a field that includes reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Adam Scott, fulfilling the long-held desire to expand the game beyond the Lower 48.
What lands the lucrative event in the MDF file is the curious wisdom to send the game’s best and brightest into such a tense region (technically South Korea is still at war with North Korea).
To be fair, the Tour has been proactive in keeping players up to date on the security situation in the region, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of countries across the globe that could benefit from such an event.
Places that don’t require regular updates on the evening news.
Don’t count on it. Speaking of curious planning and far-flung events, this week’s Lexus Peru Open on the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica should go directly into the swing-and-a-miss file.
The event in Lima was shortened to 54 holes because of a national census on Sunday and a government mandate that citizens, and visitors, must remain indoors from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Roads will be blocked and air traffic halted in the country during the nine-hour window, while all shops and restaurants will be closed as officials conduct the census.
A bigger concern than a cancelled round, however, are building travel concerns for players and tour officials looking to leave Peru on Sunday in order to travel to the circuit’s next event more than 2,500 miles away in Uruguay.
Delays and cancellations happen in golf all the time, but this one seems like it could have been avoided.
Wheels of justice. While some may consider this the slow season for the Tour, off the course there is one department that’s been busy in recent weeks.
Last week, attorneys for the Tour and a group of more than 80 caddies argued before a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; and last month a New York judge denied a motion from the circuit to reargue a previous decision regarding summary judgment.
The Ninth Circuit panel has not handed down a decision on the caddie lawsuit, which stems from an anti-trust claim made by the caddies who say the Tour uses them as “walking billboards” for sponsors; while the New York ruling involves Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the circuit claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program.
Both cases have been mired in legal wrangling for years and Singh’s attorney seemed to sum up the frustration of not being able to take his case to trial.
“This case has been going on for a long, long time,” Peter Ginsberg, an attorney for Singh, told the judge in September. “Is it possible for the court to give us a trial date? This war of attrition is just battering my client, who is still plagued by this.”
And they say golf has a slow-play problem.