Tiger Woods Did It

By | September 24, 2018

Did I ever really think we’d see this day again. I mean, taking the emotion out of the equation, did I really believe Tiger Woods would be able to find a way back to the top of a PGA Tour event after everything he’s been through? Some did. Those in his inner circle had been telling me he was close. Tiger’s game was clearly returning to form and his body was healing beyond what had been anticipated.

I just didn’t believe it was possible.

He had actually shocked me with a 2nd at the Valspar all the way back in March followed by a 5th at the Arnold Palmer. But a 32nd at the Masters and a missed cut at the U.S. Open led me to believe that, while he may be able to challenge a regular event field, taking on the class of a major was still a distant dream.

But then, on a somewhat out of character beautiful Sunday afternoon at Carnoustie, Tiger Woods was leading The Open Championship. He struggled down the stretch and ultimately finished in 6th place. Could he win? Many were now certain that he would. I saw his late fade as proof that he simply wasn’t physically capable of playing enough consistent quality golf over 72 holes anymore to get it done.

I just didn’t believe it was possible.

An amazing charge on Sunday afternoon at the 2018 PGA Championship answered most of my final doubts. Shooting a nearly flawless round of 64 saw Tiger Woods nearly pull off the win. But Brooks Koepka answered and took home the Wanamaker Trophy by 2-strokes leaving Woods to settle for 2nd place. But the message was clear.

Tiger had answered all of the critics. He was now obviously capable of competing for a victory at the highest level of the game once again. But, golf being what it is, being capable of doing something and actually doing it are not the same thing.

Which led us to yesterday afternoon at East Lake. There he was. At the top of the Tour Championship leaderboard filled with nearly all of the top golfers in the world. 18 holes of golf to be played. Was he finally going to put together four consecutive rounds of golf good enough to win? He was.

After the round, Woods spoke of not being sure himself that this day would ever be possible not that very long ago. He reminded us all that the most recent surgery he had endured was not even meant to get him back onto the golf course. It was meant to give him his basic quality of life back.

“Am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in?”

Woods also, somewhat out of character, spoke of the other demons he had faced on his road back. He said that the people closest to him had witnessed “the struggles” he had gone through. He offered no details. There was no need. Because of the spotlight of celebrity, we all know where he’s been. That he’s back on top makes it all that much more impressive.

Where does Tiger Woods go from here? He obviously wants to keep playing but admits that he isn’t sure just how much longer he has. He spoke of perhaps a decade or two more of competitive golf, using the guys out on the PGA Tour Champions as his inspiration, but also seemed to realize that this could all go away much sooner than that. This new Tiger Woods appears more humble and appreciative of what he has and that’s a good sign. I’m sure he’s already dreaming of another Green Jacket this April but also understands that this could all end on his next swing.

As a fan of golf, I’m thrilled to have Tiger Woods winning again. Will he ever dominate? Will he ever be World #1 again? Will he win another major championship?

Right now, I believe anything is possible.

PGA 2018 Round-up

By | August 13, 2018

Brooks Koepka, a machine built to win majors

Ronald Montesano writing for Golf WRX:

Out of 72 holes, it might be said, Koepka made 5 mistakes that counted. That’s not a lot. He made two consecutive mistakes on the front nine on Sunday, but countered those two holes later, with three consecutive birdies. Koepka also bogeyed consecutive hole in round three, on the inward half. Similarly, he made a birdie soon after, to regain momentum. On Thursday, when he made double bogey on the par-3 5th hole, he made all pars before and after, until the 11th. From that point on, it was 3 birdies and 5 pars. What we see from him is an incredibly precise performance, where mistakes are minimized and opportunities, maximized.

Brooks Koepka is a tremendous athlete. That’s obvious enough. But his mental game is just as strong. From the outside looking in it appears he doesn’t focus on how winning majors might change his life. He just goes out and competes. When you can play with that amount of freedom and let your physical abilities work to their maximum you’ve already beaten a huge portion of the field. When Brooks Koepka’s on, as he was this week at Bellerive, he’s a force.

That said, who really knows? Koepka is a bit of an anomaly these days in major sports in that he keeps a very low profile. There will be a lot of pressure on him to change that as the sponsorship and endorsement opportunities continue to flow in. Here’s hoping Koepka can keep his work-life balance in order. It certainly seems to be working for him right now.

WATCH: Tiger Woods Congratulates Brooks Koepka

Elliott Heath writing for Golf Monthly:

The 14-time major winner is friendlier than ever with competitors and showed some class after coming up short at the USPGA Championship.

Woods waited at the scoring building for Koepka to congratulate him on his play after he had just won his third major.

Hopefully having Tiger Woods wait to congratulate Brooks Koepka will put to rest all of the complaining coming from old-school critics of this new, friendlier level of sportsmanship being shown on tour these days.

PGA Championship 2018: Tiger Woods delivers the PGA’s best TV ratings since, well, the last time he almost won

Alex Myers writing for Golf Digest:

You also won’t be shocked to hear this is the PGA Championship’s highest rating since the last time Tiger Woods almost won the event. That happened in 2009 when Woods was the 54-hole leader, but was beaten by Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine, producing a 7.5 rating.

No question that having Tiger Woods back and playing well has been an unexpected bonus for professional golf. Mr. Woods himself said in many of his post-round interviews that he had no idea if he would even be able to play golf again as recently as January of this year.

No one knows how long Mr. Woods will be able to continue this comeback but fans, broadcasters, and marketers will ride the wave as long as it lasts. Hopefully, this time around everyone will have learned from the past and do what they can to maintain some balance in their coverage. 

Furyk: Form, pairings will both drive RC picks

Will Gray writing for the Golf Channel:

Furyk officially welcomed the eight automatic qualifiers to his 12-man roster for next month’s matches in Paris, and his homework is about to ramp up as he looks to round out the team with four additional picks. Three players will be added after the Dell Technologies Championship in three weeks, while the final pick will be made after the BMW Championship the following week.

While Mr. Furyk technically has four picks to make it’s obvious that he really only has two. With Tiger Woods finishing 11th and Phil Mickelson finishing 10th in the points he would be hard pressed to justify not adding these two fan favorites.

My guess as of today would be Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau getting the last two slots. But, there’s still golf to be played. We’ll see.

A Fan Did What?

By | August 10, 2018

Fan throws ball at Dustin Johnson during tee shot, DJ responds with birdie at PGA

Bill Speros writing for Golfweek:

A spectator threw a ball toward Johnson while he was teeing off on a par-3 hole Friday during the second round of the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

Not to get picky but calling anyone who would do this a “fan” seems a bit generous. I can only imagine a few reasons why someone would do this and most of them involve either gambling, alcohol, or both.

So far, I’ve only heard positive things about how the crowds in St. Louis have been behaving at this year’s PGA Championship. Any gathering of folks is going to have a few idiots in it. Let’s hope this sort of thing remains an isolated case of stupidity and doesn’t start a new fad.

Update: Was it a fan or not? Twitter user Tom Herron @gifhouh has a different theory: