Woods surprisingly content with future uncertainty

By Rex HoggardDecember 7, 2015, 6:00 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – He buzzed around Albany Golf Club in a golf cart, glad-handed corporate guests and played the role of tournament host with surprising ease.

Last week’s Hero World Challenge will be the last time Tiger Woods will be seen publically in his 30s, a milestone that has taken on added relevance following two back surgeries in the last three months and his most recent indefinite stay on the disabled list.

Speculation, which always rages wildly when it comes to Woods, ranged from a possible return to the PGA Tour by early next year (Florida swing?) to a more prolonged absence (the U.S. Open?), but after watching Woods gingerly make the rounds last week at Albany, it’s seems as if there were no guarantees he’ll be in the field next year when the World Challenge returns to the Bahamas.

“That's the hardest part for me is there's really nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards,” Woods said. “It's just taking it literally just day by day and week by week and time by time.”

But then, another prolonged hiatus from the game is nothing new when it comes to Woods, who hasn’t played a full season on Tour since 2013. What was different was the relative ease with which he appears to be settling into a new role.

When Davis Love III named Woods one of his vice captains for next year’s Ryder Cup, the initial surprise was mitigated, at least partially, by his insistence that he intended to be a “playing” vice captain.

Last week’s press conference, however, seemed to cast Woods in a slightly different light. At 39 - to be fair the guy doesn’t turn 40 until Dec. 30 - he still has plenty of time to change his competitive fortunes, if he’s healthy.

It’s the ultimate qualifier that has become as much a part of Woods’ legacy as those 14 major championships and 79 Tour victories.

“You know, it's tough, it's tough to see,” Jordan Spieth said. “You just hope he gets healthy. He really has his head around making sure that he takes his time getting back because he's still got a lot of good years ahead of him in my mind as long as he approaches it the right way, and I don't know what that is.”

The world No. 1 was 15 years old the last time Woods won a major, world No. 2 Jason Day was a Tour rookie when Tiger won that 2008 U.S. Open and No. 3 Rory McIlroy joined the Tour two years later.

None of the current “big three” have played Woods at his best, at least not in the Grand Slam events which have been the central theme of his career.

Instead, the current wave of players seem to view Woods in much broader terms, beyond the limits of his competitive achievements. Even Bubba Watson, Sunday’s champion at the World Challenge who is just two years younger than Woods, took a telling view of Woods when asked about his own long-term goals.

“Truthfully, my goals in my career have changed over the years,” Watson said. “Watching Tiger Woods, what he's done for the people off the golf course, my goal is now stretched to that.  I think I can do more off the golf course.”

Woods himself alluded to a possible next chapter, at least in general terms, last week in a rare moment of nostalgia that was fueled by the uncertainty of his current medical issues.

“I'm hoping that I can get back out here and compete against these guys. I really do miss it. That's fun,” he said. “But if that's not the case anymore, then I'll find other avenues, that being growing my foundation, what we're trying to do, golf course design or other projects I have going on right now that will certainly take up more of my time.”

That’s not to say Woods should be viewed in any way less than the sum of his Hall of Fame parts, just differently. After three back surgeries and with his golf activities limited to driving a golf cart, it’s only natural to embrace the realities of your situation.

Watching Woods carefully examine Zach Johnson’s putter last week, it’s clear the game still calls to him and if he needed a paradigm of competitive hope he should look no further than friend Davis Love III, who at 51 years old won the Wyndham Championship to close last season.

“Obviously it's frustrating for him,” Spieth said. “But I think we certainly haven't seen the end of him even if he does say that if the sun sets on the career now, it's still good. I think we can all read between the lines there, that he's still got some really good years left.”

Whether Woods is truly at peace with his evolving role in the game doesn’t really matter, at least not until he’s able to play his way back to some sort of competitive relevance. But as another frustrating year drew to a close, what was striking is how content he seems to be settling into whatever the next chapter may bring.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”