Woods' injury at Doral creates uncertainty

By Rex HoggardMarch 11, 2012, 11:50 pm

DORAL, Fla. – With one swing, Selection Sunday turned into Speculation Sunday.

These are the facts: Tiger Woods busted a drive 321 yards deep into Doral’s 12th fairway and proceeded to the nearest exit. His curt answer when asked by a PGA Tour official for a statement was, “Leg . . . left leg,” but a release was later issued clarifying the injury to his left Achilles tendon, which he has struggled with before.

In the moments before his withdrawal from the WGC-Cadillac Championship Woods grimaced after hitting his second shot on the par-5 10th hole and again on the 12th tee. Woods’ second shot at No. 10 dropped into a water hazard left of the green and he made a scrambling par at No. 11 from a greenside bunker.

Playing his third week in a row, and his fifth tournament this season, Woods was 3 over par and 10 strokes adrift of the lead. Doral marks the third time in three years Woods failed to go the distance at a marquee PGA Tour stop in Florida and opened a void of speculation that will not soon be filled. It also had a surreal déjà vu feeling to it.

In 2010 at The Players Woods also failed to put in a full work week, out after just eight holes on Sunday with an ailing neck he feared was a bulging disk that led to a lost month.

Less than a year ago Woods managed just nine holes at TPC Sawgrass, penciled in a 6-over 42 on the outward loop and bolted in a white Mercedes-Benz with an ailing left knee bound for a three-month stint on the DL.

The only difference on Sunday at Doral was the color of the Mercedes-Benz (black) and the direction he was headed on Interstate-95 (north). But he’s been here before.

Woods suffered a “mild strain to his left Achilles,” along with a ligament sprain in his left knee, hitting out of the pine straw under the Eisenhower Tree adjacent the 17th hole at Augusta National last year in Round 3 and sources suggested at the time that the ailment was much more concerning than his often-ailing left knee.

Physical trainer types agree an Achilles injury is fickle, slow to heal and easily re-injured, all of which made Woods’ statement even more worrisome.

“I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw,” Woods’ statement read. “In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary.”

Woods said he plans to have the Achilles “evaluated sometime early next week,” but that will do little in the short term to quiet speculation that had already reached a crescendo before Sunday’s leaders reached the turn at Doral.

How this most recent setback impacts Woods’ plans to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks and next month’s Masters remain to be seen, but for a player who had become something of a model of good health since his return at last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational it is a blow.

Asked on Saturday in South Florida how his current stretch of golf, which was scheduled to feature five events in seven weeks, had impacted him physically Woods was succinct: “Oh, it feels great.”

But even that is something of Woods’ modus operandi.

In 2010 at The Players he was asked if he was having any physical issues and his answer was, “No, zero. Absolutely 100 percent.” Two days later he withdrew, and a day before his early exit at Sawgrass last year Woods gave a similar response.

It is the nature of sport and a body that has spent more time under an orthopedic’s knife than one would like that injuries can, and often do, crop up. Truth be told Woods likely had more questions than the stunned Doral masses as he made his way home on Sunday.

His health, particularly his often operated-on left knee, has been a cornerstone of Woods’ comeback in recent months. It has been his ability to practice, almost as much as his work with swing coach Sean Foley, that has given Woods a reason to be optimistic.

At his season opener in Abu Dhabi Woods was in the hunt late into the final round and charged from nine strokes back last week at the Honda Classic with a closing 62 for his best official Tour finish since the 2009 BMW Championship.

Even as a windswept Sunday began in South Florida Woods’ galleries swelled with anticipation of another comeback. Woods was tied for 10th in driving accuracy through 54 holes with a swing that was starting to look controlled, almost clinical, but then he turned in 2 over, changed golf shoes and would be at home long before the trophy ceremony.

That sound you heard late Sunday afternoon emanating from South Florida was a collective gasp from the golf world. Well, that and yet another flight on approach to Miami International Airport.

Webb Simpson, who was paired with Woods on Sunday, noticed on Woods’ tee shot at No. 12 that he looked “really hurt.”

“He just said he's got to be done. It looked like he was in some pain,” Simpson said. “We didn't talk or anything so I'm not sure exactly what it was.”

Which put Simpson in a similar frame of mind to the rest us as innuendo replaced insight and speculation was replaced by a predictably vague statement. We’ve all been here before – Woods, the Tour, the fans. A world once defined by predictability has become pyrotechnic, and a comeback that finally appeared on track is on hold, again.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.