Archive for the ‘PGA’ Category

The greatest of his generation, Tiger Woods took his place among the best of all time Wednesday night when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and shared a life story of a passion to play and a work ethic that made him feel like he earned it.

Woods didn’t touch on any of his 82 victories on the PGA Tour or his 15 majors, or the eight surgeries he endured along the way.

He spoke of his parents taking out a second mortgage that allowed him to play the junior circuit in California, choking up when he mentioned his late father who told him he would have to earn everything he wanted.

“If you don’t go out there and put in the work, you don’t go out and put in the effort, one, you’re not going to get the results,” Woods said. “But two, and more importantly, you don’t deserve it. You need to earn it. So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career.”

He was introduced by Sam, his 14-year-old daughter who said her father preaches to her and 13-year-old brother Charlie the same message he learned from his late later.

“Train hard, fight easy.”

Woods was the headliner in an induction class that included retired PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning and the late Marion Hollins, a visionary who became the first woman to develop prominent golf courses.

The show was so geared around Woods that it featured three short video presentations that were titled “GOAT,” the popular acronym for “greatest of all time.”

There was little doubt Woods belonged in the Hall of Fame.

He was on a slate of candidates two years ago, all of them introduced one at a time with a list of their accomplishments — except for Woods. There was no need to bring up what he achieved, who he influenced, and the enormous impact he had on his sport in attracting new fans, spiking television ratings, and increasing prize money.

The Players Championship prize fund this week is $20 million, and that’s not lost on the players in the field. The entire purse was $3.5 million in 1997 when Woods made his debut. The winner this week gets $3.6 million.

“I think every pro out here owes a debt of gratitude to Tiger because this sport wouldn’t be where it is today without his impact,” Patrick Cantlay, who won the $15 million prize last year as FedEx Cup champion, said earlier this week.

Woods, the first player of Black and Asian heritage to win a major at the 1997 Masters when he was 21, also spoke of the discrimination he felt as a youth. He told one story about going to a country club to play a tournament, and he wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse like the other juniors because of the color of his skin.

“So I was denied access into the clubhouses. That’s fine. Put my shoes on here in the parking lot,” he said. “I asked two questions only, that was it. Where was the first tee, and what was the course record? Not complicated.”

The room at PGA Tour headquarters, which only held about 500 people, burst into applause.

The ceremony was moved from the World Golf Village, which held previous ceremonies in Florida, to the new PGA Tour headquarters located about a mile away from where Woods first rose to fame.

Sure, there was the appearance on the Mike Douglas Show when he was a 2-year-old prodigy and the three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles. It was on the island green on the par-3 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass in the 1994 U.S. Amateur when Woods first delivered the uppercut that would define his celebration.

That was the first of an unprecedented three straight U.S. Amateur titles, and it only got better.

Much better.

His record is so strong that Woods had three Hall of Fame careers in one. After four full years as a pro, he already had the career Grand Slam and 24 victories on the PGA Tour. The first major was the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12, one of 20 records.

When he was 30, he already had 46 wins on tour and 10 majors, including a sweep of the majors, a feat no one had ever accomplished.

Woods now has a record-tying 82 wins on the PGA Tour, along with 15 majors, three behind the gold standard set by Jack Nicklaus.

More than his wins was his influence.

Woods never wanted to be looked upon as a golfer but rather an athlete. He wasn’t the first to find the gym, but his devotion to strength and fitness created a template for others to follow.

“Tiger changed people’s perception of golf from a game to a sport,” Padraig Harrington said.

Woods’ popularity, his showmanship, was so great that Finchem was able to turn that into television contracts that sent purses soaring.

Finchem also created the World Golf Championships events, and a Presidents Cup to give the burgeoning group of international players from outside Europe a chance to compete in team matches. And he kept the PGA Tour strong with sponsors during the recession of 2008.

Maxwell Berning won only 11 times on the LPGA Tour, but she played in an era when juggling family and golf led to short careers.

She won the U.S. Women’s Open three times — only five others have won at least three — in a six-year span. She also won the Women’s Western Open, a major in her era. She noted she earned a total of $16,000 from her three Women’s Open titles.

“I was wondering if you’d like to swap checks,” Berning said to Woods.

Hollins financed and developed a golf course for women in New York and was the brains behind two fabled golf courses in California — Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. Hollins, who died in 1944 at age 51, was a visionary in golf course architecture, a confidante of Alister Mackenzie, and a U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.

Renee Powell was honored with the inaugural Charlie Sifford Award for her spirit in advancing diversity in golf, while the Lifetime Achievement recognition went to Peter Ueberroth and the late Richard Ferris, both part of the ownership group at Pebble Beach.

The induction brought the Hall of Fame to 164 members.

Johnny Manziel appears to be taking his pursuit of becoming a professional golfer seriously.

The former NFL quarterback announced on ex-teammate Chris Long’s podcast in February that he was giving himself 12 years to make a PGA TOUR event. He has since relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he’s been playing eighteen holes, five days a week and practicing with PGA pros Jon Rahm and Tony Finau, as revealed in a feature by Brady Langmann of Esquire.

“Golf has brought me freedom,” Manziel said. “Golf has brought me peace. And golf has brought competition back into my life.”

Manziel has been out of the NFL since his release from the Cleveland Browns in 2015. He returned to the football field earlier this year, joining the Fan Controlled Football league for its inaugural season.

“I slowly started watching myself over a three-month period this spring,” he said. “If we went out, drank, stayed up too late, or didn’t feel like waking up, and had an eight o’clock tee time? I have not missed one single day of getting to the course and playing golf. If that was football, I can think of 10 instances where I overslept and didn’t get out of bed to work out or go to practice.

“Every single day, no matter how bad I feel, I get my golf clubs, throw my shit on, and go play. And I love it.”

Father Time comes for all athletes eventually, but this week Phil Mickelson showed everyone he’s still got plenty of top golf left in his 50-year-old body.

Mickelson became the oldest man to ever win a major on Sunday, putting up a final-round 73 to claim the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. The California native outlasted Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka, securing his sixth career major win and breaking then-48-year-old Julius Boros’ record, set in 1968.

The win represents the 45th TOUR victory of Mickelson’s illustrious career, moving him into a tie with Walter Hagen for the eighth-most ever. The victory also comes 30 years after he won his first PGA TOUR event as an amateur in 1991 – the last golfer to achieve such a feat.

PLACEPLAYERTOTAL TO PARROUND 4 SCORE
1Phil Mickelson-673
T2Brooks Koepka-474
T2Louis Oosthuizen-473
T4Padraig Harrington-269
T4Shane Lowry-273
T4Harry Higgs-270
T4Paul Casey-271
T8Abraham Ancer-165
T8Justin Rose-167
T8Collin Morikawa-168
T8Jon Rahm-168
T8Will Zalatoris-170
T8Scottie Scheffler-170
T8Tony Finau-170
T8Rickie Fowler-171
T8Kevin Streelman-175

Mickelson strode to the first tee at Kiawah with a one-stroke lead over Koepka 2,864 days after he walked off the 18th green at the Open Championship at Muirfield with his fifth major title. The final mouthwatering group featured one of golf’s all-time greats and the sport’s best player in the biggest events.

The opening hole immediately heightened Sunday’s drama, as Koepka birdied while Mickelson three-putted for bogey and immediately lost his lead.

The pair would trade punches over the next couple of holes before a classic moment of magic from Mickelson would push the lead to two shots. With Koepka safely on the par-3 fifth green in regulation, Mickelson showed off his world-class touch around the greens, splashing a perfect bunker shot that rolled into the hole for a clutch birdie.

Montana Pritchard/PGA of America / PGA of America / Getty

Mickelson took that two-stroke lead to the 10th tee before supplying the dagger with a brilliant approach to the tricky par 4. He poured in the birdie putt, and a bogey by his younger combatant pushed the lead to four and effectively ended the threat.

Even a poor approach that found water on No. 13 couldn’t derail Mickelson – the chasers around him eventually crumbled leading up to the final two-shot margin. A statement drive on No. 16 was the capper on the day for the oldest ever major champion. A towering 366-yard missile from the man who prides himself on his ‘bombs’ and ‘hellacious seeds’ represented the longest of the week by any player on that hole.

While Mickelson’s career resume puts him in rarefied air, the win at Kiawah is still a shocking result given his recent play. The longtime golfer hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in a major since 2016 and had fallen to No. 115 in the world ranking heading into the week. That world ranking spot is the worst for a major champion since Shaun Micheel claimed the PGA Championship as the 169th-ranked player in 2003.

Major title No. 6 is also a milestone for Mickelson, as he now joins Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino at that career total. There are just 14 men in golf history that have won at least that many major championships.

In a month, Mickelson will attempt to secure the final piece that has eluded him throughout his illustrious career – a U.S. Open title. He’s suffered heartbreak at the event multiple times en route to a whopping six runner-up finishes.

This year’s tournament will be played at Torrey Pines near San Diego, a virtual home contest given his longtime residence in Southern California. While the lengthy rough-filled track doesn’t seem like a great fit for Mickelson, this week’s result reminded us why it’s never wise to count Lefty out.

Hideki Matsuyama became the first male golfer from Japan to claim a major championship on Sunday after winning the Masters Tournament by one stroke over rookie Will Zalatoris.

Matsuyama, who started the day with a commanding four-shot lead, carded a 1-over 73 in the final round to hang on for the victory and narrowly fend off a strong group of chasers.

The 29-year-old built a five-shot advantage as he made the turn, but Zalatoris and Xander Schauffele applied pressure on the back nine. Schauffele rattled off three straight birdies on Nos. 12-14 to make things interesting as the last pairing got to No. 15.

On the final par-5 at Augusta, Matsuyama airmailed the green with his approach shot and wound up making a costly bogey. Meanwhile, Schauffele made his fourth consecutive birdie to get within two shots with three left to play.

However, Schauffele took an aggressive line at the pin on the par-3 16th and came up well short. The 27-year-old’s hopes were dashed as his ball landed on a steep downslope in front of the green and trickled back into the water.

Thanks to the comfortable cushion Matsuyama built with his stellar play on Saturday and most of Sunday, he was still able to walk away as the champion despite bogeying three of his final four holes.

Matsuyama becomes only the seventh player ever to earn low-amateur honors (2011) at the Masters and win a green jacket later in their career, and the victory also marks his first PGA TOUR title since 2017 and the sixth overall.

Matsuyama’s win also completes a sweep for Japan at Augusta over the past two weeks, with 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last weekend in a playoff.

“Hopefully I’ll be a pioneer in this, and many other Japanese will follow,” Matsuyama said through his translator during the green jacket ceremony in Butler Cabin. “I’m glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully, and many more will follow me.”

Here’s how the top of the leaderboard finished at the 85th Masters:

PLACEPLAYERTO PARR4 SCORE
1Hideki Matsuyama-1073
2Will Zalatoris-970
T3Jordan Spieth-770
T3Xander Schauffele-772
T5Jon Rahm-666
T5Marc Leishman-673
7Justin Rose-574
T8Patrick Reed-469
T8Corey Conners-474
T10Cameron Smith-370
T10Tony Finau-372

Zalatoris claimed the runner-up position in his Masters debut. The 24-year-old birdied two of his final four holes to move up the leaderboard with his fourth under-par round of the week.

Due to his triple-bogey on No. 16, Schauffele settled into a tie for third with Jordan Spieth.

Webb SimpsonStewart CinkKevin NaSi Woo KimRobert MacIntyre, and Brian Harman all earned invites into next year’s Masters by finishing inside the top 12.

Jordan Spieth recaptured the winning magic that propelled him to become the world No. 1 on Sunday, firing a final-round 66 to win the Texas Open by two.

The victory over Charley Hoffman marks Spieth’s 12th career win and his first since the 2017 Open Championship.

“This is a monumental win for me, one I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Spieth said afterward, according to Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski.

The 27-year-old began the final round sharing the lead with Englishman Matt Wallace, but he quickly started to separate himself from the field. He made two early birdies and didn’t look back.

Hoffman made things interesting with a back-nine charge, but Spieth came up with an important birdie on the par-4 17th to give himself a two-shot cushion going into the last hole.

All he needed to do was tap in for par to snap a winless drought that lasted nearly four years.

“There were a lot of times I wasn’t sure if I’d be here with you, talking to you about this right now,” he told the Golf Channel’s Steve Sands during his post-win interview. “I never really doubted in myself to be able to get back to where I wanted to go, but when you lose confidence, a lot of the time it’s hard to see the positives going forward.”

Spieth’s win at TPC San Antonio comes 1,351 days after he claimed his third major championship at the 2017 Open.

He also moves to No. 38 in the world rankings the week before heading to Augusta National in pursuit of his second career green jacket.

Tiger Woods was involved in a single-vehicle accident Tuesday morning near Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Woods was transported to a nearby hospital to undergo surgery on serious but non-life-threatening leg injuries after he was extricated from the vehicle through the windshield.

It was initially reported by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department that “jaws of life” were required to remove Woods from the vehicle, but that was not the case.

The 45-year-old suffered a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, one of which is a compound fracture, a source familiar with Tiger’s procedure told Daniel Miller of the L.A. Times.

Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg confirmed the initial news Tuesday morning.

“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support,” Steinberg said, according to Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport.

The PGA Tour released a statement shortly afterward, sending prayers to Woods.

Officials have not yet released the cause of the accident. However, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times that Woods, who was the only occupant in the vehicle, was traveling at a high rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle before crossing the center median. Woods’ SUV – a courtesy car from last weekend’s Genesis Invitational – rolled multiple times before coming to a stop on its side 30 yards off the road.

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / Getty

“It’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” deputy Carlos Ortiz, who was first to arrive on the scene, said, according to Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine.

Ortiz also said Tiger was “calm and lucid” when he first made contact with him and noted the golfer was wearing his seatbelt.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department added Tiger was conscious and that there was “no evidence of impairment” when officers arrived at the crash, according to Brian Wacker of Golf Digest.

Woods hosted his annual Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles this past weekend. He did not compete in the event as he was recovering from a back surgery he underwent in December.

According to Rapaport, Woods was doing a two-day content shoot for Golf Digest/GOLF TV that featured a number of celebrities receiving lessons from the 15-time major champion.

Tiger Woods recently underwent back surgery after experiencing discomfort at the PNC Championship and will miss the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational, he announced Tuesday.

Woods, 45, had a microdiscectomy procedure to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was pinching a nerve in his back. The timeline for his return to the PGA Tour is unknown, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.

“I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on Tour,” Tiger said.

Woods, who played in the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, was spotted wincing on the range at the December tournament.

The operation is Tiger’s fifth for his back and first since he underwent a spinal fusion in 2017. That procedure allowed him to return to the PGA Tour and win three events, including the 2019 Masters.

Though he will not compete at Riviera, Woods will still be at the Genesis Invitational as the tournament host. Proceeds from the event benefit his TGR Foundation.

clubhouse_14

The Masters, known as much for the roars as the raw beauty of Augusta National, will be on mute this year. The club decided Wednesday there will be no spectators.

That means all three majors in this year of COVID-19 will not have fans, and the silence figures to be most deafening at Augusta National when the Masters is played Nov. 12-15.

From Amen Corner all the way through the back nine, players can often figure out what’s happening with others just by listening. That will be missing this year, along with the azalea and dogwood blooms from having to move it from April.

”Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome,” club chairman Fred Ridley said.

Known in some circles as the cathedral of golf, Augusta National now will sound like one.

Ridley said the health of everyone involved with the tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic was paramount in rescheduling the Masters from April and deciding whether it could have spectators, even a limited gallery.

”The guests who come to Augusta each spring from around the world are a key component to making the tournament so special,” he said. ”Augusta National has the responsibility, however, to understand and accept the challenges associated with this virus and take the necessary precautions to conduct all aspects of the tournament in a safe manner.

”We look forward to the day when we can welcome all of our patrons back, hopefully in April 2021.”

He said all tickets will be honored for next April, and the club would contact ticket holders and those who have applied for tickets in April sometime next month.

Golf is coming off its first major without fans last week at the PGA Championship. The U.S. Open, moved from June to Sept. 17-20 because of the pandemic, previously announced it won’t have spectators at Winged Foot.

The British Open announced in April it would be canceled this year.

The lack of noise was noticeable at Harding Park last week for the PGA Championship in San Francisco, especially when Collin Morikawa hit driver to 7 feet on the 16th hole for an eagle that sent him to his first major championship. There were a few media, mainly the broadcast crew, along with a few volunteers and support staff.

But a shot that memorable was greeted with mostly silence.

”This is the one time I really wish there were crowds right there,” Morikawa said with a laugh.

The Masters, though, is different.

Built on a former nursery, the back nine descends steeply toward Rae’s Creek and Amen Corner before making a steady climb toward the clubhouse. Pockets of roars come from everywhere.

Tiger Woods leaned on them when he won his fifth green jacket last year, studying every white scoreboard so that he would understand who was where and what a cheer might mean.

”When I got down to 13, I got a chance to look at the board and see where everyone stood,” Woods said last year in an interview the GolfTV. ”I’m like, `OK, the next board I see is not until 15, because there’s no board on 14.’ So I get a good understanding, see where they all are, look at what holes they’re on in case I hear any roars who that might be.

”Obviously, there’s significance to certain roars,” he said. ”But I want to know what players are in what position so after I played 14 and headed to 15, I have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on.”

The roars carried Jack Nicklaus to his astounding 30 on the back nine when he rallied to win his sixth Masters in 1986.

The fabled ”Arnie’s Army” began with a group of soldiers from nearby Fort Gordon in the late 1950s, but it grew to include practically every patron on the grounds. Palmer felt as though he knew them all as they cheered him to four victories.

Woods was making a charge in 2011 when two reporters waiting to cross the eighth fairway heard a roar that rattled the pines. What happened? A marshal said Woods had just hit his approach, and it was clear what the noise meant – an eagle that momentarily tied him for the lead.

A few minutes later, a roar from Amen Corner. And then another from behind the 13th green. And another from the second green. That was from all the scoreboards being changed to show Woods tied for the lead.

That’s what will be missing in November.

Rory McIlroy wants fellow players and those involved with the PGA Tour to take the necessary precautions if golf is going to continue while other professional sports leagues suspend play indefinitely.

“I think for us to keep playing on Tour, all the Tour players and people that are involved need to get tested and make sure that no one’s got it,” McIlroy said, according to Golf Channel’s Will Gray. “Because everyone knows you can have it and not have symptoms and pass it on to someone that’s more susceptible.”

McIlroy, who was tested for performance-enhancing drugs after shooting even par at TPC Sawgrass, added he plans to get tested for the coronavirus next week, according to The Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said fans won’t attend the remaining rounds at The Players Championship and the next three events up until the Masters. McIlroy thinks spectators also shouldn’t be permitted when golfers descend on Augusta National for the season’s first major.

“I don’t see how they can let spectators in if they do play it at this point,” McIlroy added.

The Masters is reportedly exploring contingencies related to concerns over the coronavirus, including playing without patrons.

The 2020 Masters will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, it was announced Friday.

“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National, said in a statement. “We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip, and Putt National Finals are also postponed.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the PGA Tour canceled the remainder of The Players Championship and the following three weeks of competition. That move saw all Tour events canceled up until the now-postponed Masters, which was set to begin April 9.

There have been two Masters tournaments contested outside the month of April – the first one ever, in 1934, and the 1939 event, which were both played in March, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.

The Masters Tournament hasn’t been completely canceled since 1945 when the event was called off due to World War II.

The next scheduled PGA Tour event is the RBC Heritage beginning on April 16. The season’s next major is the PGA Championship, which is scheduled to start May 14 in San Francisco.