Only Time Will Tell

By Rex HoggardMarch 9, 2011, 11:58 pm
WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – The fifth-ranked player in the world stepped to a familiar microphone just before midday on Wednesday stressing patience and the process. Familiar tones for the one-time 'Man of Steel' termed slow starter by a society fixated on on-demand results.

The WGC-Cadillac Championship is worldwide start No. 19 and counting since Tiger Woods last had a reason to celebrate on a Sunday. An unthinkable drought just, well 19 events ago, but times have changed no matter how hard we fight that reality.

“I don't know, man. I played for 10 years when that guy dominated, so it's tough to get a different mind-set on things,” said Ernie Els, who was Woods’ primary bridesmaid for all those years.

Tiger Woods and Sean Foley
Tiger Woods works with instructor Sean Foley Wednesday at Doral. (Getty Images)
“Tiger was the dominant player. He won 14 majors. Think about it, 14 majors, in such a short period of time. Who is ever going to do that again? Who knows? That is pretty dominating.”

After only Woods, Els is likely the most flummoxed by Woods’ steady decline over the past 12 months or so. This is, after all, the same man who beat Els by more than two touchdowns at the 2000 U.S. Open, the man who matched him shot-for-shot at the 2000 Mercedes Championships, the man who ran him down at the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic.

If “Joe Three-Jack” has a hard time stomaching the title “world No. 5 Tiger Woods” imagine how that reality must weigh on Els, whose Hall-of-Fame career unfolded primarily into the headwind that was the Tiger era.

“For us, myself, Phil (Mickelson), Vijay (Singh), Davis (Love), Fred Couples, guys like that to have played under a guy who was that good, we took a beating, not only from him, but from you guys (media), too,” Els sighed. “It's been a tough – it was a tough 10, 12 years for us.”

Early Wednesday, Woods hoofed out into a steady south Florida breeze, the Achilles’ heel of Tiger 4.0. The playing lesson for the “lab rat,” as one scribe recently dubbed him, began at 8 a.m. complete with entourage: Sean Foley, Stevie Williams and a Nike Golf rep.

Good thing the latter was along for the windy ride, Woods needed the extra pellets particularly on Doral’s demanding 18th hole where he pulled one drive into the water left of the fairway and pushed another into the right rough. From the rough he pulled another ball into the deep blue – wash, rinse, repeat.

Foley is good for Woods, for his positive energy if not for his insight on the modern swing, but one couldn’t help but think the student would have been better off giving the teacher the morning off and rounding up a game with the likes of Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. After nine holes watching Two Gloves’ action maybe Woods would conclude that it is time to play golf, not swing.

Instead, Woods marched from the 18th green to Doral’s practice tee. More work. More reps. He’s running out of time as the major clock ticks toward Augusta National. At best he has 10 Tour rounds, counting next week’s Tavistock Cup, between him and Magnolia Lane. Rumor on Tuesday at Doral was he was thinking of adding next week’s Transitions Championship to his dance card but on Wednesday that seemed less likely.

At the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Woods said he may need “a million” swings for the changes to take, but he doesn’t have that kind of time. The 24-hour cycle won’t allow it. So what if Foley has been behind the camera for just 11 worldwide events, those with unrealistic expectations will conclude that those 18 majors aren’t going to win themselves.

“All of (his swing changes) have been challenging,” Woods said. “They’ve all been hard because changes to motor patterns take time.”

What is different this time is the golf public wants their Grande Americano now, not in 12 months.

On Wednesday Woods said “there is no timeline” for when he will move into his new south Florida castle – indications are that won’t happen before the Masters – but he could have said the same thing about his swing.

“I know what I can do, I just can’t do it on the golf course,” he said. “I’m not to that point yet, but I’ll get there.”

“I’ll get there” is not what the masses want to hear, not with Mickelson waiting on Thursday’s tee sheet and cries for Tiger v. Phil at Doral, Part Deux.

Woods and Foley continue to preach “process.” It’s about new motor patterns and new realities. Unlike his previous three swing changes, first with Butch Harmon and then with Hank Haney, Woods’ new world is about balance. The guy who willed himself to a U.S. Open title on one leg is now subject to the whims of a drastically altered life.

When asked on Wednesday why he hasn’t added to his schedule to help the process along, Woods’ response was telling. “I have a family. I'm divorced. If you've been divorced with kids, then you would understand,” Woods said.

From that new reality comes a golf world full of uncertainty. Woods no longer shows up at Doral with the field spotting him a stroke a side, at least not the New World Order.

“To see kind of the new world out there, you know, with these young players coming through, they have got something going for them,” Els reasoned. “They didn't have to play under a guy that was so dominant and I don't think they will ever appreciate how good Tiger was back then.

“He could do it again, who knows. . . . But at that level, who knows, I don't know.”

Only time will tell and that’s the one thing the world No. 5 does not have on his side right now.
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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.

Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath.