Yet Another Detour for Tiger

By Rex HoggardMay 14, 2011, 3:11 am
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With a swing straight out of cold storage, on a knee in desperate need of a cold compress, Tiger Woods grimaced his way to another early exit at The Players Championship on Thursday and sent a chill down the collective spines of the PGA Tour hierarchy.

For the second consecutive year Woods didn’t put in a full week at TPC Sawgrass, done in this time by an ailing left knee and Achilles that he injured during last month’s Masters.

On Tuesday Woods said he didn’t know what to expect from his injured left leg. It took him just one swing to find out on Thursday.

“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,” said Woods, who withdrew after nine holes at 6 over par, 14 strokes behind first-round leader Nick Watney and lost on a leaderboard that featured 78 scores of par or better. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods speaks with the media after his WD. (Getty Images)

At the fourth hole the chain began unraveling. From the left rough he hit his approach into a water hazard, from the drop zone he found the same water hazard and needed an 18 footer to salvage a triple bogey-7.

From there his game, and his health, seemed to deteriorate with each shot. There was a grimace when he pulled his approach shot left of the fifth green and a pained knee flex following his drive at No. 6.

Woods, who didn’t play last week’s Wells Fargo Championship while he rested his assorted injuries, said the wayward tee shot at No. 4 was related to his leg and by the time he chipped his third shot into a bunker at the par-5 ninth he was done.

All that remained was the paperwork and another surreal snapshot – this time of Woods climbing into his white Mercedes-Benz for the long, lonely drive back down Interstate-95.

He briefly visited the Tour’s fitness trailer, but that was more a formality than a form of treatment. Tour regulations require a player provide the circuit documentation for a withdrawal within 14 days. “Since 99 percent of the time the player has been working with our physio team they usually stop in there afterward and this note is provided by them,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s vice president of competitions.

Last year Woods withdrew seven holes into his final round at The Players with a previously undisclosed neck injury. By comparison this year was almost predictable.

A man who once lived by the mantra that he never showed up unless he was ready to win, rolled into north Florida this week having not touched a club since Augusta National. He played just nine holes on Tuesday and another nine on Wednesday and seemed out of sync from the outset of his opening round.

He was slow, almost sluggish. To put it in context, Kevin Na moves faster. To put it in perspective, he looked like a man doing Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a favor.

That he was playing TPC Sawgrass was a bigger surprise than his early exit. It’s now been a decade since he won the “fifth major” and a player who has etched out a Hall-of-Fame career by outworking his competition has become something of a part-time player, the byproduct of injury and off-course turmoil.

The mind may be willing, but not the body.

Asked if he was advised by his doctors not to play TPC Sawgrass, Woods said he was not. “They said I could play,” he said “The more rest the better it would be, obviously. It’s a big event.”

The tournament that is, not Woods’ withdrawal. Although the latter certainly qualifies as a happening. One source with knowledge of the injury said the bigger concern is the Achilles ailment, which are historically slow to heal and easy to reinjure.

A Tour trainer said it would take a “normal person” about eight weeks to fully recover from a similar injury. But, of course. Woods doesn’t have that kind of time, nor is he a “normal person.”

He now has three weeks before his next potential start at the Memorial, and just over a month before the U.S. Open. Make no mistake, the man who dismissed doctors’ orders to play the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg will be at Congressional the second week of June.

The only question is what will he bring to the season’s second major? Or even if he will be able to play Congressional?

The camp’s plan now is to wait. Asked if Woods intended to have a magnetic resonance imaging test done on his ailing left knee or Achilles his manager, Mark Steinberg, said via e-mail: “That is not the case. We are in the evaluating phase right now and will determine the next steps.”

For all the concerns that were born from Woods’ off-course missteps in 2010, it was his slowly deteriorating health that should have concerned the powers in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the most.

Scandal, it now seems, he can deal with. A chronically ailing left leg and a swing that takes a toll with every turn, however, may be a different story.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

Getty Images

Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

Getty Images

Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

Getty Images

Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”