Turns out there was nothing cryptic in the license plate. On the back windshield was a Clemson Tiger football sticker. We can assume the 14 is a reference to a family member wearing that number. We used to assume that 'Tiger 14' was just a marker on the road to Jack Nicklaus. We know now it’s also a running tally of a much different, sordid nature.
And I admit I’m hooked. The saga has turned me into one of the millions of accidental TMZ junkies. Athletes beware. These Web sites that previously targeted entertainment stars have now discovered that ESPN’s hardcore audience has a sizable appetite for the busted jock.
Meanwhile, the golf media has been attacked in some quarters for putting all of its eggs in the Tiger basket with nothing to fry now that he’s gone. I don’t buy it. We covered Tiger commensurate with his achievements on the course, which were epic and unparalleled. And the viewers spoke clearly. They wanted Tiger. Network ratings doubled and cable ratings tripled when he was on.
Any time I’d ever taken a call from a friend or colleague who wasn’t near a television during a golf tournament they’d ask 'who’s winning' and 'where’s Tiger?'
Were there times when our reporting bordered on fawning? Yes. Did we miss or dismiss other worthwhile stories because we were focused on Tiger? Yes. But no one that I know called him a God. Great golfer, yes. God, no. Were we surprised to learn of the extent of his affairs? Of course. Tiger ran in a circle that didn’t include any journalists that I know of.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve done numerous interviews with mainstream outlets that want to know what happens to golf without Tiger. I’ve even read some doomsday scenarios. Golfers will watch golf with or without Tiger. The soft, casual viewer will come back when Tiger comes back, and that day will be the blockbuster to beat all blockbusters.
And I haven’t checked today’s mail, but I’ve yet to receive a letter from Augusta National saying they’re cancelling the Masters if Tiger doesn’t show. In the southern fried words of PGA Tour official Mark Russell, “We gonna play some gaff today and we gonna hand out a check when it’s all over.”
Will the checks get smaller over the next five years? Maybe. But so what. The whole world’s down 30 percent these days. If Tour pros are cashing $900,000 first-place prizes instead of $1.2 million, they’ll get by, just as NBA and NHL players are getting by after seeing their salary caps go down. Buy a Benz or a Beemer instead of the Bentley.
In the coming weeks, there could be another bombshell or two. It’s been a generous story, one that gives and gives and gives some more. And just as networks like ours profited from his rise, so many newspapers and Web sites and television programs are profiting from his fall. And when there’s nothing left to titillate the public, the comeback will begin. And there’ll be profit in that, too.
It’s how it goes.
I was shuffling through a stack of magazines and came across a cover story of another disgraced athlete. It read, 'Michael Vick Returns.'
Tiger will get there. But not right now.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
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
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
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.
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.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
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.
“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.”