High marks this week to Tiger Woods for following doctor’s orders, Rory McIlroy for listening to his own advice and Jason Gore for remembering a truly inspiring summer.
The slow road. If anything could be gleaned from Monday’s Q&A with Tiger Woods at media day for his Quicken Loans National, it is that the often-injured star has turned into the model patient, however reluctantly.
This was, after all, the same guy who told doctors in 2008 that not only was he going to play the U.S. Open on a busted left wheel, but he was going to win. He delivered on both fronts.
This time, however, Woods has replaced his normal bravado with a much more balanced approach if his take on Monday at Congressional was any indication.
“There is no timetable,” Woods said when asked about his recovery from back surgery on March 31. “That’s been kind of the realization through all this. There is no date. It’s not going to be up to me if I play, that’s up to my docs. I’d like to play now.”
It’s good to see that at 38 Woods may still think himself invincible on the golf course, but in the doctor’s office he leaves things up to the experts.
Un-qualified success. Open qualifying for all of the national championships annually delivers a healthy dollop of tales, but this week was particularly interesting.
On Tuesday, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open after shooting 74-68 at Half Moon Bay. It’s the second time this year the youngster has charmed the masses.
In April, Li won her age division at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National.
A day later, 50-year-old Laura Davis followed Li at sectional qualifying, carding rounds of 72-75 to punch her ticket to Pinehurst. It was another victory for golf’s most democratic championship.
A true patriot. Your scribe is bound for the Patriot Cup this weekend in Tulsa, Okla., a tournament that benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation, which supports the families of servicemen and women injured or killed in combat.
The Folds of Honor was founded by Dan Rooney in 2007 to assist those who serve, and the Patriot Cup brings together current service members, supporters and PGA Tour players for a two-day event.
While his work is inspiring, your scribe has to admit the U.S. Air Force major is a tad delusional.
He recently texted your scribe explaining that the “grunts” (U.S. Marine and Army personal) didn’t stand a chance against the “flyboys” (U.S. Air Force and Naval aviators).
Always knew you had to be a little off to be an Air Force pilot.
Tweet of the week: @JasonGore59 (Jason Gore) “It’s been nine years since I’ve been on this awesome property! So glad to be at #PinehurstResort”
During one of the most magical summers in the history of professional golf (non-Tiger Woods division), Gore earned a battlefield promotion with three victories on the Web.com Tour, qualified for the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and was three shots back entering the final round before he ballooned to a closing 84.
His Cinderella story still ranks as one of the best in the last decade, and his emotional return to Pinehurst is an indication how much that episode in his life still means to Gore.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Silent Rors. Anyone who watched Rory McIlroy’s news conference on Wednesday had to feel for the young man.
His very public engagement came to very public ending this week when he announced he and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki had broken off their plans to marry.
“There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people,” McIlroy said in a statement. “The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realize that I wasn't ready for all that marriage entails.”
Later that morning, the Ulsterman had to endure a 30-minute “therapy” session with the media at Wentworth and later disclosed he has been keeping his phone off and gave away his laptop to avoid dwelling on the news.
He opened the BMW PGA Championship with rounds of 68-71 and is tied for fifth place, proving yet again that McIlroy is nothing if not resilient.
Remembering Mac. This week at Wentworth players and caddies honored longtime European Tour caddie Iain “Mac” McGregor, who suffered a heart attack and died while working at the Madeira Islands Open on May 11.
On Thursday at the BMW PGA, players wore black to honor McGregor (#BlackForMac) and European Tour officials apologized for allowing the Madeira Island event to continue in the wake of the caddie’s death.
“I completely understand the views of people who say that we should not have carried on, but it was a terrible situation for anyone to be in and the decision to finish the tournament was not taken lightly, either by myself or by the tournament officials on the ground in Madeira,” European Tour chief George O’Grady said.
Although it was two weeks too late, Mac finally received the honor he deserved.
NFL (No Fun League). The par-3 13th hole at Colonial this week is strangely quiet thanks to a move last year by the PGA Tour to end the annual caddie races on the hole.
The circuit banned the races last year at Colonial and the Waste Management Phoenix Open over safety concerns for the caddies, and given the tragic death of McGregor two weeks ago perhaps it was for the best.
But watching groups trudge from tee to green on the hole in near silence this week is a vivid reminder that entertainment is always in the eye of the beholder.