Tour Notebook: Tiger opens up and Rory gets engagedDecember, 2015
Woods hints that career might be over
Tiger not back any time soon
Tiger Woods turns 40 on December 30 and the future, on the golf course at least, appears fairly bleak.
Speaking at the Hero World Challenge, which is hosted by his foundation, Woods was downbeat and had no idea about when he would get back to playing.
He has had two back operations since his last start in August and his only physical exertions have been walking – “I walk. And I walk. I’m just walking, and that’s it”. Otherwise he plays video games, a lot by the sounds of it and is not yet able to bend over to pick up a ball when playing with his children.
Generally Woods makes nothing but positive noises about getting back to winning ways. This time he had nothing with more than a hint that he might be done.
“It’s different from any of the other surgeries and procedures that I’ve had in the past I had ACL reconstruction and OK, you’re back in nine months. That’s the timetable. For nerves, there are really no timetables, and therein lies the tricky part because you can come back earlier or you can come back later. It just depends on how the nerve heals. There is nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards.
“I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” he added. “If that’s all it entails, then I’ve had a pretty good run.”
Bizarrely in Woods’ last start he had his best result of the season, T10 at the Wyndham Championship.
And then this…
It then emerged that Woods had given Time magazine a rare interview and he was even more candid.
Amongst the gems were these revelations…
On his career being over: “Put it this way. It’s not what I want to have happen, and it’s not what I’m planning on having happen. But if it does, it does. I’ve reconciled myself to it. It’s more important for me to be with my kids. I don’t know how I could live with myself not being able to participate in my kids’ lives like that. That to me is special. Now I know what my dad felt like when we’d go out there and play nine holes in the dark.”
On chipping (badly): “I had never seen myself going through a spell that bad. I’ve never lost my short game my entire life. I’ve lost other parts of my game, but I’ve never lost my short game. My short game’s always been my buddy.”
On peaking: “I peaked at 11, to be honest with you. I went 36 and 0 that year, never lost a tournament, all in California. And I probably had the cutest girlfriend in all of sixth grade. And I had straight As. No A-minuses. They were all perfect A’s. I peaked at 11. I’ve been trying to get back to that since.”
On his ex-wife Elin Nordegren: “She’s one of my best friends. We’re able to pick up the phone, and we talk to each other all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then.”
On beating Jack: “OK, here’s the major misconception that people have all gotten wrong. It’s what was posted on my wall, about Jack’s records. It was not the Majors, OK. There was one on there. It was the first time he broke 40, the first time he broke 80, the first golf tournament he ever won, first time he ever won the state amateur, first time he won the U.S. Amateur, and the first time he won the U.S. Open. That was it. That was the list. It was all age-related. To me, that was important.”
On being a dad: “The most important thing is that I get to have a life with my kids. That’s more important than golf … Prior to that, when I didn’t have kids, it would never enter my mind. Are you kidding me? What am I going to do, go bass fishing? No. But now to watch my kids and play sports and to grow up and participate, and even teach them how to become better, oh my God, it gives me so much joy. I can’t imagine not being able to do that as I get older.”
McIlroy gets engaged to Erica Stoll
Rory McIlroy began the week with his earnings being bandied around and ended it with a new fiancée. On a trip to Paris McIlroy reportedly dropped down on one knee on the Eiffel Tower and Erica Stoll, a PGA Tour employee, said yes.
The pair made their first public appearance at the Irish Open in May and she was with him when he won in Dubai two weeks ago.
And now onto the filthy topic of money. McIlroy, Stoll is 27 should you be interested, is still only 26 but is reportedly worth $422 million already despite having to cough up $20m to his former management company, Horizon, earlier this year.
The figures, from documents obtained by the Irish Examiner, include on-course winnings and sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Bose and Omega.
This year he earned nearly $5m, last year he pocketed nearly $9m having won two Majors.
Spieth keeps it Texan at Augusta
Over the years we have had Arctic char (Mike Weir) and haggis (Sandy Lyle) at the Champions Dinner at Augusta, next year Jordan Spieth looks like going for something a little closer to home.
“I’ve still got a bit of time before I have to advise the officials at Augusta National, but I am leaning toward a Texas-like barbecue,” Spieth explained. “So it will be a choice of Texan meats as my main meal choice.”
Ben Crenshaw, a fellow Texan, did likewise when hosting in 1996.
He also revealed that he will be making a trip to Augusta with his dad and agent as well as a second visit with the chairman and CEO of his sponsor, AT&T.
And, yes, he’ll be wearing the Green Jacket to dinner.
Rookie An edges out Fitzpatrick
Ben An became the forst Korean winner of the European Tour’s rookie of the year award after edging out Matt Fitzpatrick.
The 24-year-old won the PGA at Wentworth and claimed top-four finishes in three of the four Final Series events to finish seventh of the Race to Dubai. He was also voted Challenge Tour graduate of the year.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime achievement,” An said. “I worked very hard for this and played great last season. There were a lot of other good rookie players, so to win the award is very special.
“The race went down to the final day of the final event, even the last hole. It was so close and I had no idea who was going to get it.”
Stevie back at Augusta
Adam Scott might be missing his long putter at Augusta but Stevie Williams will be by his side. The New Zealander retired at the end of 2016 but worked with Scott at three of this year’s Majors and at the Bridgestone.
Williams has been back in the headlines lately with the release of his new book where he revealed parts of his working relationship with Tiger Woods. When asked about the chance of a sequel Scott quipped: “I’m going to be on my best behavior so there isn’t one.”
New PGA Tour regulation
The PGA Tour has rolled out a new policy which will see its members be required to add new tournaments to their schedules for the 2016 season.
It is called a ‘strength of field regulation’ and means that each player will have to add at least one event that he hasn’t played in for the four previous seasons.
Any player who participated in 25 or more official money events during the current or previous season is exempt as are life members (a player with 15 years on Tour and 20 victories) and veteran members who are 45 or older.
A fine in excess of $20,000, small change to them, or a possible suspension will be the penalty if they fail to act.
Courage award for Lyle
Jarrod Lyle is the second player to receive the PGA Tour’s Courage Award (it replaced the Comeback Player of the Year) after overcoming a second bout of myeloid leukemia in 2012.
Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplants, was the inaugural recipient two years ago and Lyle, who was first diagnosed in 1999, follows him.
The Australian then discovered in March 2012 that he had relapsed and, along with chemotherapy, he received a core blood transplant the day after his daughter was born.
Lyle, who is playing on a medical exemption this season, will donate the award to Challenge, who work with the non-medical needs of children with cancer and their families.
“The things they do for families and kids with cancer are amazing and it’s another way that I can help them keep providing the services they do and continue to bring smiles to kids’ faces,” Lyle said.