Waiting on Woods

By Rex HoggardMay 1, 2012, 9:58 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a lonely press center, just past the lunch hour here in this cozy corner of Dixie, the truth arrives like a blast of early summer humidity.

Framed by empty lawn chairs, the vacant podium and silent microphone speak volumes. There was no reference to the “process” this random Tuesday afternoon. No talk of “reps” and proper “traj.” No reminders to the AWOL members of the press corps that the work with “Sean,” the endless hours in pursuit of perfection, was ongoing.

No Tiger Woods.

No questions asked, none answered and maybe that’s for the best. After 16 odd years, maybe there was no new ground to cover, not for the scribes or the subject.

After 14 majors, 72 PGA Tour victories and 2 ½ of the most turbulent years the sport has ever witnessed, the banal fallback, “So, how ya feeling?” just wouldn’t do. So this week Woods called an audible, bypassed the standard media Q&A and took his message to the people, or at least the people on Twitter and Facebook.

To be fair, there never was a social contract.

There is no bylaw that requires players participate in pre-tournament news conferences, although considering how long Woods toed the line, one would have thought that the Tour suits had Red Shirt on a lifetime retainer.

More so than any other golfer, Woods has endured far more than his share of media slings and arrows over the years. He wasn’t always entirely forthcoming, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that his oft-frosty relationship with the press was economically motivated.

But on this, Woods’ record is clear. Dating back to the 1996 U.S. Open, there are 1,076 transcripts of Woods' Q&As, and that’s not counting the endless television, radio and undocumented print interviews.

But still, he did it, over and over again. At least until this strangely steamy Tuesday.

Not that Woods’ track record made his absence any less eerie.

There were no gems like this one from 2010, the last time he played the Wells Fargo Championship, when he was asked about his wayward driving:

“The right is caused by hitting it left,” he smiled. “This morning I was warming up, I was hitting it left, and on the golf course, I hit it right. So there you have it.”

Or this from the same year when he was asked if he would name who recommended he see Dr. Anthony Galea, who was under federal investigation for illegally prescribing performance-enhancing drugs.

“No,” he said flatly.

OK, so Woods never really said much. In fact, some contend no one is better at saying nothing at all. After some 1,076 Q&As and counting, some would call that a necessity. Some would even go so far as to consider it a defense mechanism.

But surrounded by empty lawn chairs and an unused microphone, the silence was deafening. That 14-minute social media experiment was nice, but for those conditioned to weekly clichés, Monday’s video begot silent Tuesday, which did little to fill the gaps.

What does he make of the criticism leveled against him for his club-kicking incident at last month’s Masters?

Does he agree with swing coach Sean Foley’s assessment that the “tearing down” of Tiger Woods must stop?

How’s the left leg? Knee OK? Achilles?

What does he make of the Tour’s plan to go to a fiscal-year calendar?

Who would he have taken first in last week’s NFL draft?

But the microphone offered fewer answers than normal.

Perhaps this is the new normal, a transformed reality for a player that has won once since the 2009 BMW Championship. There are 15 2012 Tour winners in this week’s field, and just four were called to the press center for pre-tournament meet-and-greets at Quail Hollow.

It’s worth noting that no one was clamoring for Justin Rose, who won the last World Golf Championship. No one spent the day pining for Kyle Stanley, whose bounce back victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was nothing short of storybook.

To hold Woods to a higher standard at this juncture, is simply not fair. We can always expect more from Woods, but that doesn’t mean he has to comply.

Maybe Foley was right when he figured last month on Sirius/XM Radio that Woods deserves a break. But that didn’t make Tuesday’s empty interview room any less lonely.

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Actor/Comedian Kevin Nealon Joins "Feherty," Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 16, 2018, 1:15 pm

Actor/comedian Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live) will join David Feherty on his self-titled, Emmy-nominated series Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance®, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Filmed at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles last month, the episode will focus on numerous topics, including:

  • Nealon discussing his start in comedy in Los Angeles, where he worked as a bartender and filled in for comics who failed to show up for their act.
  • Reminiscing about his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984.
  • Reflecting on his nine-year run as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
  • Recounting the time when his golf ball struck Adam Sandler during a round they were playing with filming Happy Gilmore.
  • Recalling time spent with Arnold Palmer during the filming of a commercial a few years ago.

The following Monday (Aug. 27), Feherty will be joined by 20-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr at 9 p.m. ET, and then on Monday, Sept. 3 (9 p.m. ET), major champion Jimmy Walker will join as a guest for the series’ season finale.

A two-time Emmy-nominated host (Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host) Feherty has been described as “golf’s iconoclast,” by Rolling Stone, and “the last unscripted man on TV,” by Men’s Journal. His all-star lineup of golf-enthused and culturally relevant guests feature celebrities from across entertainment, sports and politics. To date, Feherty has sat down with four U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump); sports legends Charles Barkley, Nick Saban, Stephen Curry and Bobby Knight; Hollywood icons Matthew McConaughey, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson; World Golf of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson; and a host of current golf superstars including Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. Feherty is produced by Golf Channel’s original productions group, which also oversees production for Driver vs. Driver, Golf Films as well as the network’s instruction platforms.

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Thomas talks Tiger, plays 'Facebreakers' on 'Tonight Show'

By Grill Room TeamAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 pm

Justin Thomas didn't successfully defend his title at last week's PGA Championship, but he did get a guest spot on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Thomas appeared on the talk show Wednesday night and, of course, a primary topic was Tiger Woods' run at the Wanamaker Trophy.

Thomas also played a game of "Facebreakers" with host Fallon, in which both men tried to break panes of glass emblazoned with the other's face with golf shots. Thomas nearly took out the real Fallon on his first shot, and after several uncessful attempts by both men, massive cheating ensued.

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Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.