Tiger listening to his body as season races by

By Rex HoggardJune 7, 2016, 11:14 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Just past 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Tiger Woods dropped a straightforward tweet:

He would further explain on his website that, “I am not physically ready to play.”

As is the norm when it comes to Woods, there were no further details, no timelines, no insight into when he could make his return to competitive golf.

In fact, only two things can be gleaned from Tuesday’s announcement. First, he’s listening to his body, as he continues to recover from multiple back procedures last year; and second, his 2016 season is quickly and quietly becoming an exercise in diminishing returns.

At this rate, there are only two more major dates to look at for a potential Woods return this season. Next month’s Open Championship at Royal Troon and the PGA Championship at Baltusrol would be the only spots on the calendar he would definitely play if he were healthy.

He could add starts at the Wyndham Championship - where he tied for 10th in his best finish last season - in an 11th-hour attempt to make the FedEx Cup playoffs, or the Greenbrier Classic, which he played in 2012 and ’15, but both seem unlikely.

And if he can’t swing his competitive fortunes dramatically in limited starts, he wouldn’t qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the playoffs or the Olympics.

It’s becoming increasingly clear Woods’ back will dictate when he can return to center stage, an encouraging sign for a patient that hasn’t always heeded his doctor’s advice. A turning point will arrive without fanfare as he endures what has become, by all accounts, a languid recovery process.

This setback, more than any of his other assorted injuries, has tested Woods’ patience, as well as his physical resolve.

This time the call to competition has been muted by the realities of an injury that can’t be expedited through force of will. The path has been clear: submit to the realities of an injury that defies timelines or risk further injury and untold consequences.

As much as he’s driven to get back to work, there has been a reluctant acknowledgement that this time he’s not calling the shots.

“I haven't set any date for when I'm playing again, which is frustrating to say,” Woods said in April at an appearance near Houston. “But to be honest with you, that's what I've had to do. I've had to go with that mindset.”

That Woods would make such a sweeping announcement well before the deadlines for either the U.S. Open or Quicken Loans National is a sign he’s not as close to a comeback as some have speculated.

He could have waited until next week to bow out of both events (the deadline for entry into the Quicken Loans National is next Friday and he’d already registered to play the U.S. Open). But it’s clear his body is not ready for the rigors of PGA Tour play.

It’s encouraging that Woods has taken the slow and steady approach, that he didn’t succumb to the urge to not miss another major championship or the need to placate a sponsor at his own event.

Tuesday’s announcement answered few, if any, questions. The only absolutes are that he’s once and truly letting the recovery dictate the return and not the other way around. He’s also reaching an increasingly clear demarcation line in 2016.

Unless things change quickly and conveniently, the next time we see Woods on a golf course in a competitive capacity he will be driving a golf cart at the Ryder Cup – as one of U.S. captain Davis Love III’s vice captains.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”