Getty Images

How the time flies: Tiger returns to Riviera

By Rex HoggardFebruary 13, 2018, 8:33 pm

LOS ANGELES – Cypress, California, is about an hour drive in L.A. traffic south of Riviera Country Club.

But for a teenaged Tiger Woods, it must have felt like a different world.

Throughout the early 1980s and into the ’90s, Woods’ father, Earl, groomed his soon-to-be world-beating son at the Navy Golf Course near his childhood home. A testament to his time is still kept on the Navy’s Destroyer Course, the “Tiger Tree” next to the 18th fairway where the teen would land monstrous drives.

By the early ’90’s, Woods had established himself as a local legend, a golf prodigy whose renown had grown beyond Cypress and the Navy course. He first ventured to Riviera to play a junior event and on Tuesday recalled playing the drivable par-4 10th hole with a persimmon-headed driver.

“No one really went for it because at the time I first played here as a junior, most of the professionals were first using persimmon and balata balls; the balls weren't going very far,” he recalled. “Obviousl the game's changed. Today I hit 3-wood, landed on the green and it went over.”

Woods made his Tour debut here in 1992 as a 16-year-old amateur, and still refers to the event as the Glen Campbell, which the tournament used to be called until the early 1980s. Although he long ago moved east to Florida to begin his pursuit of history as a professional, this place is home. Or at least as close to home as the Tour gets.

Woods’ career is a collection snapshot moments at places like Augusta National, Torrey Pines and Muirfield Village, where he’s won with historic regularity. Alas, Riviera is not one of those places.

Woods is winless Genesis Open after 11 tries, his most at-bats in a PGA Tour event without win. It’s why many think Woods stopped playing the L.A. event in 2006, even if that is likely an oversimplification.

“I love the golf course. I love the layout. It fits my eye, and I play awful,” said Woods, whose best finishes at the Genesis Open are a pair of runner-up showings in 1998 and ’99. “It's very simple. It's just one of those weird things. It's a fader's golf course for a righty. A lot of the holes, you hit nice soft cuts, and I used to love to hit nice soft cuts, and for some reason I just didn't play well.”


Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


But the times have changed for both Woods and the Genesis Open. His foundation, renamed the TGR Foundation on Tuesday, began running the event last year. It's an event that has benefitted in recent years from victories by the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.

It’s cool to be in L.A. again, and for Woods, it’s convenient. It’s been five years since Tiger played a full Tour schedule and after undergoing fusion surgery on his lower back last April, his most recent comeback is in full swing, following his tie for 23rd last month at Torrey Pines. Riviera was a perfect second chapter in that story, even if the course has had his number, and even if it's a little different.

“This is a whole new game. Everything's bigger now,” said Woods, who played a nine-hole practice round on Tuesday. “The bunkers are deeper; they seem to be bigger. The greens have gotten more pin locations than I remember. So I've got to do a little bit more homework tomorrow in the pro-am.”

There is no denying Woods is in the field this week to support his foundation, but there is also no denying some nostalgic significance considering where he now finds himself in his career.

It was just four months ago at the Presidents Cup, where he served as a vice captain, that Woods seemed to acknowledge his competitive mortality.

“The pain's gone, but I don't know what my golfing body is going to be like, because I haven't hit a golf shot yet,” he said in late September at Liberty National.

Woods covered the same ground on Tuesday but this time with a sense of optimism born from his play at Torrey Pines and at the Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth place in an 18-man field.

Although he’s never been prone to bouts of sentimentality, and he probably won’t make the drive down to Cypress to visit the old Navy course and recall those early years, there is a significance to his start this week that’s impossible to ignore.

Woods flew to California with Justin Thomas, the 24-year-old reigning player of the year and FedExCup champion, who inadvertently forced a moment of retrospection.

“He asked me when did I play in this tournament as an amateur. I said, ‘Yeah, I was 16, 1992,'” Woods smiled. “He said, 'That was the year before I was born.' I'm sorry, but that really put things in perspective really fast.”

It’s no surprise that Woods’ return to Riviera also puts an eventful few years into similar perspective.

Getty Images

Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

Getty Images

Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.

Getty Images

Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

Getty Images

Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”