Posted on: June 25, 2008 10:50 am

Woods: Have aspirin, will travel?

EDINA, Minn. -- Landing on the D.L. might keep Tiger Woods from landing in D.C.

The increasingly high-profile PGA Tour event in Washington, D.C., that benefits Woods' charitable foundation is set for next week over the July 4 holiday, but whether the star attraction will be on the grounds in any form or function remains in question.

Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager at IMG, told Wednesday at the U.S. Women's Open that the host's availability is very much up in the air -- for obvious reasons. Woods had reconstructive surgery on his left knee on Tuesday.

"We haven't even talked about it yet," Steinberg said. "We'll have to see how he's feeling." 

The second-year event, called the AT&T National, will be staged at storied Congressional Country Club. Last year, Woods played in the event and was an active participant as the host in many pretournament activities, including a ceremonial opening tee shot from former president George H.W. Bush. The pro-am is named after Woods' father, Earl.

Beyond any possible emcee or host functions he might be capable of handing, Woods isn't expected to play until early 2009 at the earliest.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 24, 2008 7:47 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2008 9:11 am

Now that Woods is in stitches ...

EDINA, Minn. -- Random thoughts and lingering questions about Tiger Woods, the U.S. Open and his reconstructive ACL surgical procedure performed on Tuesday in Park City, Utah.

Sarcasm aside, some of the salient details regarding the injury remain vague.

Oh, and lighten up, people. He is expected to make a full recovery and return in early 2009, better than ever.

1. Doctors deemed the surgery a "success." Which begs the question as it relates to all athletes: What does that mean, exactly? The patient survived? They remembered to operate on the proper leg? They reinstalled his kneecap afterward? When was the last time you heard of a prominent sports figure undergoing unsuccessful surgery?

2. Funny that he had the surgery done in Park City, since he doubtlessly tweaked or weakened the ACL snow skiing at some point. No, I am not kidding. It's a real possibility.

3. So, we all want to know, how did Woods blow out his ACL while jogging through his Orlando neighborhood? Was he toting around that weighted belt doctors advised him not to wear?

4. How does a guy sustain two hairline tibia fractures during rehab from arthroscopic surgery? Was he dead-lifting Phil Mickelson or something? That's the biggest lingering question of all.

5. So, in keeping with the common ACL surgical procedure these days, did they transplant the ligament of a dead guy into his knee? Hopefully it was George Carlin, because Woods can use all the infusion of humor he can get. (What, is it too soon?)

6. What's this guy going to do for the next six or eight months, since he gets squirrelly after going three weeks without playing? Cabin fever will surely set in within days. "Good question. My guess is that he'll get very good at course design," laughed his swing coach, Hank Haney, last week.

7. Speaking of squirrels, here are two important words for Woods to remember on his next rehab mission: Treadmills only. Your high-school cross-country days are long gone. Flat, predictable, padded surfaces are your friend. Gopher holes and bumpy grass surfaces are not.

8. When PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hand-delivered the get-well card, did he bring flowers or chocolate? What's protocol on something like that? Quien es mas macho?

9. If Woods' longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, can’t turn his client's stirring U.S. Open victory, played on a broken leg and with a blown ACL, into an eight-figure endorsement deal with Advil, he should be ashamed of himself. Granted, agents have little shame to begin with, but I digress.

10. The notoriously private Woods issued a five-paragraph statement on the surgery on his website, which noted, "A rehabilitation schedule and projected timetable for Woods’ return to competitive golf has yet to be determined, but will be announced at the appropriate time." Now seems pretty appropriate, actually.


Category: Golf
Posted on: June 24, 2008 2:56 pm

Pettersen goes to top with Leadbetter


EDINA, Minn. -- She changed clubs, hired a new caddie and trainer, and finally, dumped her swing coach.

After the latter, the results have finally changed to her liking, too.

Suzann Pettersen, who last year won five times on the LPGA circuit but has been blanked so far this year, switched to swing guru David Leadbetter early last week and promptly finished second at the Wegman's event last weekend.

Pettersen, ranked No. 3 in the world after her stellar 2007 season, had only occasionally been in the weekend mix this year after changing clubs and her caddie in the offseason. Frustrated at how her game had seemingly grown stale, she parted ways with Gary Gilchrist and hired Leadbetter, whose headquarters are located a few miles from her Orlando home.

Ironically, Gilchrist was one of Leadbetter's staff instructors before hanging his own shingle a few years ago. When she approached Leadbetter, Pettersen said that since he had worked under one of his disciples, she might as well go to the top of the food chain.

Leadbetter, following Pettersen during her practice round Tuesday at the U.S. Women's Open, reeled off a terrific one-liner regarding his many former staff instructors, who are numerous on the various pro tours.
"I like to say that, I might have taught them everything they know," Leadbetter smirked, "but not everything I know."

Leadbetter said he and Pettersen have mostly been working on posture issues in their short week together. She missed the cut at the U.S. Open last year after an opening 76 but has as much upside as any LPGA player not named Lorena Ochoa.

It's been an interesting year for Leadbetter. The same week his most high-profile player, Ernie Els, officially left him for Butch Harmon, another of his players, Trevor Immelman won the Masters.





Category: Golf
Posted on: June 19, 2008 1:46 pm

Eldrick the Absent

They don't call me Mr. Vegas, although my plane did route through Sin City on the way back from Torrey Pines.

In the aftermath of Woods' startling admission Wednesday that he won the U.S. Open on a broken leg, comes the inevitable fallout and confusion among the guys who like to get a personal taste of the action.

The odds for the upcoming British Open, the season's third major, are in complete upheaval. The folks at, produced by the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, had just sent out their numbers for the British next month when the Woods injury news began breaking ... and breaking ... and breaking.

A few hours later, they had to take a massive mulligan. Interestingly, while we don't know much about how the odds are concocted, Woods' absence didn't seem to mean much for the B-team seeking to fill the void in his absence. Evidently, they don't have much faith in Woods' peers, since their odds didn't improve dramatically in many cases.

Here's a look at where the website had selected players listed before and after the news broke that Woods was missing the British and would not defend his title at the PGA Championship -- he's never missed a major as a pro -- on Wednesday morning.

The new co-favorites? None other than Ernie Els and 2007 British runner-up Sergio Garcia.

Player                Before       After

Tiger Woods      7/4             Off

Ernie Els            15/1          12/1

Sergio Garcia    20/1          12/1

Phil Mickelson   25/1          15/1

P. Harrington     25/1          15/1

Justin Rose       25/1          20/1

Vijay SIngh         30/1          25/1

Jim Furyk           30/1          25/1

Retief Goosen  30/1          25/1

Adam Scott        30/1         25/1

Lee Westwood 30/1         25/1

Geoff Ogilvy       30/1         25/1


Category: Golf
Posted on: June 17, 2008 5:08 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2008 8:11 am

The Rocco Effect

So, Tiger Woods is the only guy who moves the needle, huh?

The numbers from over the weekend say otherwise. Let's hear it for the underdog principle.

The ratings on NBC for the playoff at the 108th U.S. Open were off the charts, the highest for an extra-holes Monday affair in 30 years, but more remarkable than the overall numbers was the location of the 10 cities that topped the charts for rapt attention.  

Call it the Rocco Effect.

Of the 10 cities nationally with the biggest playoff numbers, Mediate has ties to three. He lives in the Ft. Myers, Fla., area, but grew up in the Pittsburgh region. As for Greensboro, N.C., where Woods has never set foot, that city's event account for two of Mediate's five career wins.

Buffalo? I have no clue. Who knew that cold-weather town cared about anything but the other sport with a crooked stick, hockey?

As a Florida resident, it was good to see the largely apathetic Sunshine State log an impressive four spots in the top 10. The top three on the list were Florida locales, all logging in with higher ratings than the host city, San Diego. West Palm Beach topped the list, which means the entire Nicklaus clan must have been watching (Jack has five children and 21 grandkids, at last count).

Oddly, Jacksonville did not make the list. Maybe the suits at PGA Tour headquarters couldn't stand to watch Woods limp around, their show pony's future very much in doubt.

1. West Palm Beach, 14.0 rating/32 share
2. Ft. Myers, 13.0/29
3. Tampa, 12.5/29
4. San Diego, 11.5/31
5. Las Vegas, 11.1/23
6. Orlando, 10.9/24
7. Pittsburgh, 10.7/24
8. Louisville, 10.3/23
9. Greensboro, 10.0/23
10. Buffalo, 9.9/24


Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2008 7:25 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2008 11:35 am

Torrey story: Odds and Endings

SAN DIEGO -- After 91 memorable and occasionally ridiculous holes, the 108th U.S. Open is finally in the books. Tiger Woods' name was etched in chrome, making he and Jack Nicklaus the only players to have won each of the four major championships at least three times.

A few odds and ends from Monday's 19-hole shootout between Rocco Mediate and Woods:

* Hilariously, they showed up in the morning on the practice range wearing nearly identical attire, with both players dressed in black pants and shoes, a red shirt with a black pullover sweater. Woods peeled his sweater vest almost immediately to reveal ... the same shirt he wore on Sunday. Yep, it's true, the identical shirt, minus any Sunday sweat stains.

"They washed it for me," he insisted.

* I am not making this up. As Mediate approached the 16th green, several spectators began singing the lyrics to the cheesy Village People song from the 1970s, Macho Man. Except that the lyrics were modified to Rocco Man. The fans on Monday, 24,000 strong, were mostly unbelievable in their support of both players.

*Welcome to municipal course golf. Mediate pulled his shot left of the fifth green and watched it carom off a cart path, some 20 yards farther offline. At most of the country club courses used for past Opens, that would never happen -- because most don't have cart paths.

*Remember the Woods TV commercial from 10 years ago where he bounced the ball on his wedge behind his back? As he stood on the first tee, he bounced it eight times off his driver, and without touching it, coaxed the ball into coming to rest on the face, completely still. Yeah, it's as hard as it sounds.

*Woods hadn't hit the fairway on the first hole in four tries and is tee ball Monday leaked wide right, but bounced off te lip of a fairway bunker and caromed into the fairway. Woods raised both hands overhead in mock triumph as Mediate yelled at him with a grin, "Sure, now you decide to hit it in the fairway."

 *The unreal shot of the day came from Woods after he blew his drive on the 15th hole so far offline, it landed in a bunker on the adjoining ninth hole, 50 yards wide of the mark. "The catcher called for a pitchout so I hit it over there to the right," Woods said sarcastically.

Woods spun an iron shot to within 10 feet, causing Mediate to nearly faint in laughter. "When I talk about golf, he dosen't count," Mediate mused afterward, "because he's not normal."

 *Reggie Jackson followed the action inside the ropes Monday, having secured a media pass from somebody. He was having a hard time coming up with a baseball analogy fro watching David (Rocco) slay Goliath (Tiger) as he walked the back nine. "It's kind of like arelief pitcher in a showdown," he said. Naw, not really. Old No. 44 lives in California, but still works as a consultant for the New York Yankees. I'm still on scholarship," he cracked.

* Speaking of guys who had no business being inside the ropes, NBC college football broadcaster Pat Haden was inside the ropes all week following Woods as part of a group of what appeared to be NBC personnel and their sons, clogging up an already congested area festooned with working media. Anybody who isn't working doesn't deserve to be there, getting in the way and blocking the view of fans, no matter how much their network paid in rights fees. I guess a Rhodes Scholar can't figure that out.





Category: Golf
Posted on: June 15, 2008 2:27 pm

Bring the noise, boys

SAN DIEGO -- The stage has been set.

Now it's up to the actors to hit their spots and utter the proper lines.

As expected, the U.S. Golf Association on Sunday moved the tee on the par-4 14th hole way up to a mere 267 yards to the flag, similar to the 17th hole last year at Oakmont.

The driveable par-4 has become fashionable in golf over the past decade or so, but give credit to the new group of forward thinkers at the previously stodgy USGA for rolling the dice a bit. Temptation will play a role in the final round, to be sure, giving players three chances to make an eagle in the final nine holes.

Forward thinkers equals forward tees, which could translate to massive upheaval on the scoreboard over the final two hours.

In addition to the 14th, the par-5 13th and 18th will present the chance to make up shots with late-round heroics. However, it should be noted that the tee is all the way back for the first time all week on the 13th, which will measure 614 yards. Tiger Woods has eagled the hole two days in succession, but not from the back tee area.

The tee at the 18th is where it's been all week, give or take a yard, set at 527 yards to the middle of the green.

A ming-blowing fact bears repeating as the morning wave of players tours Torrey Pines in the early Sunday mist. The last time a player birdied the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open by a single stroke was amateur Bobby Jones in 1926.

Decades-busting potential surely exists Sunday.







Category: Golf
Posted on: June 13, 2008 3:17 pm

Where's Johnny?

SAN DIEGO -- Apparently, Johnny Miller was busy.

How else to explain the staggering succession of on-air personalities, alleged experts, loaners and actual network employees used by ESPN during its broadcasts of the first two rounds of the U.S. Open this week at Torrey Pines.

The worldwide leader in excess trotted out no fewer than 15 different voices during its morning broadcast session on Friday, including a handful of analysts on loan from NBC, which will thankfully handle the weekend coverage going forward, with Miller in the lead chair.

The number of analysts used in the first two rounds was stupefying, with Scott Van Pelt, Andy North, Dottie Pepper, Mike Tirico, Curtis Strange, Chris Berman, Bob Murphy, Karl Ravech, Tom Rinaldi, Colleen Dominguez, Bill Kratzert, Jane Crafter and at least one dude I did not recognize all fighting for oxygen and airtime.

Oh, and let's not forget the network's newest zillion-dollar acquisition, former Sports Illustrated scribe Rick Reilly, who contributed some sort of feature segment toward the end of the morning window.

Hey, when you technically work for a network, like CBS, it doesn't pay to throw rocks at other broadcast entities. But small wonder some of the golf viewers out there in Hometown, USA, are screaming bloody murder over the abundance of voices and lack of golf action being televised.




Category: Golf
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