Tag:tiger woods
Posted on: July 26, 2011 6:15 pm

Foley on Tiger status: 'We've not hit any balls'

ORLANDO, Fla. – Even after two months on the bench, Tiger Woods’ status for the next two weeks, if not the rest of the season, remains very much uncertain.

Three days removed from the commitment deadline for next week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, a tournament he’s dominated unlike few others in his career, Woods still hasn’t begun working toward his comeback from physical issued that have dogged him for months.

Swing coach Sean Foley said in a text message Tuesday night that the pair have not been working together, which seemingly creates the very real possibility that Woods will miss the PGA Championship next month, too. Bridgestone and the PGA are staged in consecutive weeks and Woods has regularly played in both.

“We have not hit any balls,” Foley wrote Tuesday night. “And I have no idea what his plans are as far as when he plays again. It’s up to the doctors.”

Hardly a ringing reason for optimism.

Even with his talent and temperament, it’s hard to envision that Woods could get ramped up and ready for a World Golf Championships event or a major with only a few days of preparatory work, especially in light of his physical condition and overall state of readiness.

Woods has played nine holes on the PGA Tour since the Masters in April and dropped to No. 21 in the world ranking this week. Given the layoff and his position on the seasonal points pecking order, the rest of the season is in doubt as well.

Woods stands outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup points and if he doesn’t play over the final three weeks of the so-called regular season, he’ll be ineligible to play in any of the four FedEx Cup events that begin immediately thereafter. In other words, he can’t play even if he’s cleared physically because he didn’t earn enough points.

Thus, Woods would not be eligible to play in the Deutsche Bank Championship, which is hosted by his charity, or defend his title at the BMW Championship outside Chicago, which represents the last PGA Tour event he won, nearly two years ago.

After the Bridgestone and PGA, the last chance to crack the top 125 in FedEx points is the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., held Aug. 18-21.

Barring an appearance in the Fall Series, the year would effectively be over.





Category: Golf
Posted on: July 26, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 9:36 am

Potential Woods caddies throw us for a loop

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you've ever been to the U.K., this bit isn't exactly news.

If there's a ball or bat involved, you can place a wager on it. Now that Tiger Woods needs a caddie, you can add "bag" to the list, too.

That's right, if you are dumb enough, you can put your hard-earned bucks down on a new betting line set to identify Woods' new looper, assuming he ever comes back and plays. Here's the line as set by Paddy Power, an Ireland-based gambling house.

Notes and pithy asides are mine.

Line / Player  / Comment

2/1  Paul Tesori -- Once showed up at Presidents Cup match with "Tiger Who" stitched on cap. Deeply religious. Has great gig with Webb Simpson. Sorry, don't envision this happening.

7/2  Colin Byrne -- Worked for players including Retief Goosen and Edoardo Molinari. Has authored books about his years on tour and is one of the brightest caddies in the game. Sorry, don't see Tee-Dub hiring a guy who knows how to write memoirs, either.

6/1  Tony Navarro -- Fired by Adam Scott. This would be funny, since Scott has hired ex-Woods bagman Steve Williams. But Navarro is working for Angel Cabrera, and that's a pretty easy gig.

7/1  Byron Bell -- Doesn't ring a bell (no pun intended)? That's because he's not a caddie, his name is actually Bryon Bell, and he has been pals with Woods since junior high in SoCal. Bell caddied for Woods as a one-off at Disney a few years ago. Bell runs the course-design business for Woods. So, in other words, he has plenty of spare time and Tiger wouldn't have to pay him.

7/1  Ricci Roberts -- I love Ricci Roberts, who has looped off and on several times for Ernie Els. But Roberts is a conservative, hard-line South African, so I just don't see this as a good fit.

8/1  Fanny Sunesson -- Seems like the biggest reach of them all to me. First, Fanny is trying to transition into coaching (she has a PGA Tour credential as an instructor) and away from caddying. Secondly, Woods is likely steering clear of Swedish women toting irons.

8/1  John Wood -- Great guy in general, but a San Francisco Giants fan. Woods is a Dodgers man. Plus, both of them answer to the nickname "Woody." Sounds chaotic. Caddies for Hunter Mahan currently.

9/1  Terry McNamara -- Caddied for Annika Sorenstam during her glory years and lives near Orlando. Could make more in a week with Woods than he will all season on the LPGA. T-Mac knows the game.

10/1  Billy Foster -- If Foster leaves his current gig with Lee Westwood, a decent man with a good heart, then he's a clown. And he's not.

16/1  Brett Waldman -- Former caddie for Ben Crane and Camilo Villegas, he got his card on the Nationwide Tour last year at Q-school and elected to chase the dream. So far, he's been getting killed. You have to figure he'd bail on playing for the chance to drag bag for Woods.

20/1  J.P. Fitzgerald -- Caddied for Els and presently has the best gig in golf -- as looper for Rory McIlroy, who is 13 years younger than Woods and twice as good at the moment.  If Fitzgerald bails on the Rory gig, it will be the biggest mistake of his life.

20/1  Joe LaCava -- Worked for Fred Couples for years, and moved to Dustin Johnson two months ago. LaCava is a funny guy who likes to talk. I think that would make Woods nervous.

20/1  Mick Doran -- Has caddied for Justin Rose, Trevor Immelman and Villegas, so he's certainly been around a wide variety of personalities. Seems plausible.
Category: Golf
Posted on: June 7, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 4:17 pm

Woods sits out Open with eye on future

ORLANDO, Fla. -- This time, there will be no limping across the U.S. Open finish line in heroic, dramatic fashion for Tiger Woods.

The former world No. 1 announced Tuesday that he will skip next week's U.S. Open in suburban Washington, D.C., because of leg issues that have dogged him since the Masters.

"Very disappointed," Woods said via his Twitter account. "Short-term frustration for long-term gain."

Woods famously won the 2008 U.S. Open with a blown-out ligament and two fractures in his left leg, the same one that has been giving him problems since tweaking it during a shot in the final round at the Masters in April. Mark Steinberg, Woods' longtime agent. phoned the U.S. Golf Association on Tuesday to pass along the news.

"Mark and I have been, for the last day or so, going back and forth," USGA executive director Mike Davis said from Washington, D.C. "He let me know early this morning [Tuesday] that Tiger wasn't going to be able to play. Obviously, not good news.

"I talked to Mark last Friday and that was the first day, I believe, that Tiger was going to try to hit balls, to go slowly to see if it went well. I guess it didn't."

The Open begins next Thursday at Congressional Country in Bethesda, Md. Woods withdrew after nine holes last month at the Players Championship after shooting 42, claiming he re-injured the knee on his first tee shot of the day. He has fallen to No. 15 in the world ranking and six Americans are currently slotted ahead of him.

Two weeks ago, Woods characterized his current issues as a "cakewalk" compared with what he faced at the 2008 U.S. Open, although that seems to have been an unfortunate choice of words. Woods said no doctor, at least at that point, had suggested a surgical remedy.

"I am extremely disappointed that I won't be playing in the U.S. Open, but it's time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future," Woods said on his website, where the withdrawal was first announced. "I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and Achilles tendon are not fully healed. I hope to be ready for AT&T National, the next two majors and the rest of the year."

The AT&T event is in three weeks.

Woods has missed three majors since his rookie sesson, all because of knee issues.

Woods has played in every U.S. Open since 1994, when he was an amateur, and has won it three times. Outside of the 2008 British Open and PGA Championship, which came after his reconstructive knee surgery, the last time the 14-time Grand Slam winner missed a major was in 1996 at the PGA Championship, conducted weeks after he turned pro.

But Woods indicated sitting now will ensure a healthier result later. He hasn’t won a major since the '08 Open or the PGA Tour since August, 2009, a span of 20 months.

"It's been a frustrating and difficult year, but I'm committed to my long-term health," Woods said.

He was replaced in the field by 23-year-old amateur Michael Whitehead from Sugar Land, Tex., an alternate who competed in sectional qualifying on Monday in Dallas.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 1, 2011 6:29 pm

Woods and Steinberg: Too expensive to keep?

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a scenario that some had posed last week, potentially casting aside Tiger Woods as a client won't exactly take a heavy toll at IMG, the sports-management giant that has represented the fading former No. 1 since he turned pro in 1996.

Woods and his agent apparently were too expensive to keep.

According to a report in Sports Business Journal, the income generated by Woods for IMG had fallen to $1.1 million in 2010, after the sex scandal had hit, and that wasn't nearly enough to offset the contract and annnual bonuses of his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg.

Steinberg's contract was up for renewal and last week, but IMG severed ties rather than renew.

IMG agreed to a reduced percentage with Woods on his endorsement earnings, and as his deals disappeared in the wake of his scandal and lackluster play, the income dollars dwindled. The source cited in the SBJ report stated that IMG cleared $7.8 million on Woods' endorsement earnings in 2007 but that the number cratered after the scandals hit and he lost rich deals with Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and others.

The source told SBJ that Steinberg "would have made about $3 million this year in salary and bonuses, significantly more than the fees Woods would have generated."

Management agencies negotiate the percentage of athletes' endorsement deals that are withheld. The reduced percentage Woods paid to IMG was less than the standard figure, but the management firm made up for it in sheer volume.

Woods hasn't stated whether he will remain with IMG or retain Steinberg as his agent, and Steinberg hasn't announced his future intentions, either, although he was free to do so starting Wednesday, when a stipulation in his IMG contract expired.

An IMG spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Sherry Whay, another longtime IMG agent who represented players such as Chris DiMarco and Retief Goosen in the past, also left the firm.
Category: Golf
Posted on: May 16, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 6:51 pm

Woods doubtful for Memorial, hopeful for Open

The good news is that Tiger Woods didn't inflict any more structural damage to his chronic left knee last week, but on the downside, he needs more rest and therapy before he'll be back on the PGA Tour, leaving his next appearance up in the air.

Woods announced on his website Monday that while he aggravated injuries to his knee and Achilles tendon at the Players Championship last Thursday, where he withdrew after nine holes, he didn't make it worse.

It's looking doubtful that he will play a tune-up before the U.S. Open next month, his website said. Woods said doctors again have recommended rest, cold-water therapy and soft-tissue treatment and that there's no clock on when he can come back and play.

"Aggravating my injury is very disappointing," Woods said. "I'll do whatever is necessary to play in the U.S. Open, and I'm hopeful I can be there to compete."

That might include ... doing absolutely nothing.

The website said Woods would "likely" play in the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C., on June 16-19. It also characterized the chances as slim that Woods will play at the Memorial Tournament later this month, one of his traditional stops. Woods indicated it's a week-to-week process of evaluating his medical status.

The former world No. 1 hurt his left knee on his first swing of the day in the opening round at TPC Sawgrass and limped to a 6-over 42 before leaving after nine holes.

He originally suffered what was called a mild, Grade-1 medial-collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon while playing in the final round of the Masters.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 1:17 pm

Finchem says Tiger absence not death knell

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Like pretty much all of us, he doesn’t have the slightest clue as to whether Tiger Woods' latest medical issues spell doom or merely gloom.

But as far as it relates to the health of his product, Tim Finchem believes Woods' continues time on the shelf is no longer a game-ender in the sports marketplace as far the PGA Tour is concerned. 

The PGA Tour commissioner pointed out at the Players Championship on Sunday that prognostications of impending Armageddon for the tour when Woods had his many, various setbacks of the past two years have hardly proven true, and in that time, other players have developed as marketable, popular commodities during his absence.

Let's face it: Woods has been largely irrelevant for months at a time and hasn’t won on the U.S. tour in 20 months. So for those who were curious -- morbidly or not -- about how the tour would fare without him, the past few months have been a good primer, he said.

Can the tour survive without Woods? It already has been, basically.

"The idea of the young guys challenging the established stars I think is something that's a positive thing," Finchem said in a brief chat with reporters before the final round. "The other thing is Tiger has been finishing well in advance of finish time this year, and our television ratings are up virtually across the board.

"There's a number of reasons for that, but one of them is clearly the fans are engaging with and focusing on these other players, and that's good news for the future. If you go back to the pre-Tiger era when there was much more parity, in all those years the number of what you would call an elite player or a star player or somebody that if you walked out on Wednesday the proam guys know, somebody that if you turn on your television the fans know, that number increased every year."

In fact, the tour's promotional spots on TV have been outright shoving the younger players to the fore, using them as juxtaposition with the stars like Woods and Phil Mickelson. Finchem said it was hard for the other players to find a foothold in the public mindset because of the dominance of a certain player.

"It's been harder to do that the last 12 years because there's so much focus on Tiger Woods," he said of developing stars. "I want to see him come back and win. I want him to win all the records, and I don't have any reason to believe he won't do that. There's nothing that tells me he won't do that, medical things aside. But it's also good for the longterm health of the tour to have exposure on these other guys, and we just need to take advantage of that."

Making his first comments to the print media in two months, Finchem strongly reaffirmed statements he made on television earlier in the week after a Golf Channel analyst asserted on the air that Woods only played this week because he had been pressured by the tour to appear at its flagship event. Woods withdrew after nine holes after claiming that he had re-injured his ailing knee.

The tour called the Golf Channel and strenuously complained about the report and Finchem still seem riled about it on Sunday.

"Well, it's not about him, it's any player," he said. "I don't twist players' arms, and as far as Tiger being hurt, guys, that's a decision he has to make, and I had no information that he wasn't ready to play golf. 

"I don't think anybody did. I don't think he did. I was on the range with him for a half an hour on Tuesday.  He was hitting it really well. He went and played nine holes, and he didn't have a problem. He played the next day, he didn't have a problem. He stayed on the range that day, he didn't have a problem.

"So it's all nonsense as far as I'm concerned, and I don't want to talk about it anymore."

As expected, Finchem also declined to comment on the disciplinary status of Rory Sabbatini, who has had two chronicled on-course blowups this year but has yet to be suspended. In Finchem's era, fines and suspensions have never been announced publicly, though he has stated that if a player issues false or misleading information about a sanction, the tour reserves the right to correct the information publicly. Sabbatini has twice characterized stories that a suspension is imminent as "rumors."

"We do reserve the right to clarify the record if an individual or the involved player makes a statement that is not consistent with the action, and that is the policy," he said. "I don't have any comment on what Rory Sabbatini said or what is alleged."

Since Finchem is a master of evasive action when pressed on uncomfortable topics, that could certainly be interpreted as meaning that Sabbatini won’t be suspended at all.

While other major sports have long announced sanctions against players who run afoul of the law or organizational rules, Finchem was practically defiant in defending the policy. As long as he is running the show, it appears it's not going to change, despite outcry that it's not effectively modifying the behavior of some players.

"I don't comment on disciplinary matters or whether there's an investigation going on or whether there's a process going on," he said tersely. "I don't comment. We reviewed it a number of times. We like the policy the way it is."

Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:41 pm

Finchem shoots down Tiger conspiracy theory

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tim Finchem wasted no time refuting any supposition that the PGA Tour placed pressure on an ailing Tiger Woods to play this week at the Players Championship before he was medically ready.

Appearing live on CNBC on Friday morning, the commissioner of the tour stated unequivocally that there was never any arm-twisting to play or quid pro quo involved for making the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse available for Woods' high-profile public apology last year, a theory that was espoused on a CNBC sister network, the Golf Channel.

"... The idea that we would pressure him to do anything is ludicrous," Finchem said flatly. "We don’t pressure any player to play any tournament. Tiger doesn’t enter a tournament unless he thinks he can win.”

Maybe yes, maybe no, at least on that last point. Woods appeared nowhere near ready to play this week, given that he played only 18 holes in four weeks heading into the tournament and had spent one day practicing with his new swing coach. In the nine holes he played before withdrawing Thursday, Woods was 6 over and hit two balls in the water. There are few, if any, examples of Woods showing up to play with less preparation than this week.

Various talking heads suggested that Woods played only because he was pressure or felt beholden to the tour for making the facility available when he made his first public comments on his ruinous, off-season sex scandal. Finchem told CNBC that he was not concerned that Woods would be sidelined for a lengthy period and said ratings were up from last year in most of the season’s early broadcasts.

“The story now is the young players and when Tiger’s going to come back and play as he used to,” Finchem said. “He doesn’t need to come back and dominate like he did. He needs to play.

“My concern is where his injuries are going to go, and he doesn’t know what the answer is to that. And we won’t know that for a while.”

Despite hosting the event this week at PGA Tour headquarters, Finchem has yet to meet with the print media this week, though a Sunday press session was added after several complaints about his availability were voiced.


Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:03 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 3:56 pm

Breaking down the Woods breakdowns

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- If Tiger Woods was able to walk out to his driveway on Friday morning to retrieve the local paper, you can bet that he was hopping mad by the time he got back to the house.

Bad legs or not.

Mike Bianchi, the lead columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, a publication that used to all but wave the flag for Woods in the glory days, all but pointed a finger of suspicion at Woods regarding performance-enhancing drugs.

Woods withdrew from the Players Championship after nine holes on Thursday, citing knee, calf and Achilles issues. As Bianchi noted, all those aches and pains are consistent with the breakdown often associated with the use of PEDs.

Whether you buy it or not, and I don’t, Bianchi serves up all of the circumstantial evidence and makes it clear that at this point in his career, Woods no longer received the benefit of a doubt on anything.

Bianchi didn’t cover any new ground, but pointed out what many have long insisted doesn’t pass the smell test. Wrote Bianchi:

"You don't have to be a biochemist to know that one of the major benefits of HGH is that it helps the body quickly recover from the stress placed upon it by the repetitive nature of massive, torque-producing athletic maneuvers. That's why baseball pitchers take it and why golfers would benefit from it, too. Golf swings and baseball windups, when done repetitively, place an enormous amount of strain on all of those moving body parts.

"A few years ago, before the PGA Tour finally started drug-testing its athletes, Commissioner Tim Finchem had his head in the sand trap when he essentially scoffed at the possibility that any of his golfers could be on PEDs. Finchem truly believed that even though many of the top athletes in nearly every other sport were dirty that his sport was somehow completely clean. How laughable is that?"

Bianchi appeared on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show on Friday morning and said he isn't accusing Woods of anything, per se, just reporting the smoke that surrounds the fading former No. 1.

The tour began testing for drugs in 2008 and Woods had a terrific 2009 campaign, but the tests don’t cover HGH, the drug one that Woods' controversial doctors has long espoused as a magical panacea.

Wrote Bianchi: "With his fading golf game, his prolonged losing streak, his deteriorating body and his uncomfortable ties to the Canadian drug doctor, it makes you wonder.

"Did it really always come naturally to Tiger?"

Category: Golf
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