Tag Archives: PGA

Tiger appears to be back … all the way

I know this sounds snobbish of me, but I want Tiger Woods to win the tournament he is playing in this week.

It’s something called the Valspar Championship. He is a shot behind a young man from Canada named Corey Conners.

Snobbishness? Well, my desire to see Tiger win is to see some excitement generated in professional golf. Conners hasn’t won yet on the pro golf tour. His day will come. I just don’t want it to come this weekend.

You know how I feel about Tiger Woods. He turned out to be a dirt bag of a husband. He cheated repeatedly on his wife, a former Miss Sweden for criminy sakes! She caught him cheating, kicked him out of their mansion and Woods’s career nosedived not long after that.

He’s had some injury, multiple surgeries, a couple of aborted comebacks.

Woods does play with a certain panache. He is so damn fun to watch on TV. I noted in an earlier blog post that he might be “bigger than the game,” although he surely wouldn’t ever say as much out loud.

Woods will be paired with young Corey Conners on Sunday. They’ll get to go head to head. If Corey holds up under the pressure and fends off the greatest golfer of his age, then he well could launch himself into a potentially great career in professional golf.

If Woods’s latest comeback produces his first win in five years, that will make the Earth shake under golf’s feet.

Is Tiger back? Well, let’s hold our breath and hope it’s so

One round of golf on a relatively tame layout does not constitute a comeback for the greatest golfer of his generation.

But I am glad to see that Tiger Woods shot a 69 today at the Hero World Challenge tournament in The Bahamas.

It’s been more than 300 days since Woods played competitive golf. The game has flourished nicely without him. However, for many golf fans — such as yours truly — professional golf has been lacking a bit of the star power that Woods brings to any tournament he enters.

He has gone through four back surgeries. He sought to come back once, perhaps prematurely. He couldn’t swing a golf club without experiencing great pain.

But here we are. Woods played a solid round of golf today.

I hope he can string three more good rounds in the sport he dominated during the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

I get that no one is bigger than the sport at which he or she excels.

My hope, though, is that Tiger Woods can come back and give the game some of the pizzazz he brings to it every time he tees it up.

Welcome back, Tiger; many of us have missed you

I am heartened to hear the news that Tiger Woods is planning yet another comeback to the world of professional golf.

You have to understand how I feel about this guy. I will concede in a New York minute that he has proved himself to be a dirt bag of a husband. His serial philandering was too much for his ex-wife to bear. He got caught up in that nasty scandal — and then his health went bad.

I tend to separate sports celebrities’ personal life from their exploits on their respective fields of competition.

I like watching pro golf on TV. I really like watching Tiger Woods compete. He brings a certain panache and flair to a game that at times needs it. The Golden Age of golf, from my standpoint, occurred in the 1960s and ’70s, when Arnie competed head to head with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player; then came Tom Watson and Lee Trevino. (I¬† need not bother with a last name when referencing The King of Golf. The same can be done, I suppose, with Tiger.)

Tiger has 14 major titles under his belt. He’s seeking to break Jack’s record of 18. I once thought it was a done deal. It now appears out of reach, given his recent performances on the links.

Whatever, he says he is coming back in December. Tiger has gone through those back surgeries. He’s suffered some personal indignities along the way. He and rival Phil Mickelson revealed recently that they really are pals, that their so-called mutual dislike was trumped up.

Tiger will have a tough road ahead to regain his top-tier ranking. The pro golf game is full of young guns ready to take their place among the greats of the game: Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson come to mind. They are as fearless as Tiger Woods has proved to be in the heat of competition.

So … welcome back, Tiger.

This golf fan is pulling for you.

This young man is the next superstar?

Jordan Spieth seems like a quiet young man. He hails from Dallas. He plays golf for a living. He’s pretty good at it, too.

He won a golf tournament over the weekend by sinking a shot out of a sand bunker. Spectacular stuff, to be sure. For a golf fan who is still waiting for the return of its most recent super-duper star, a guy named Tiger, I am pleased to see another young man emerge to capture the attention of the golfing world.

Golf is about as statistic-happy a sport as, say, baseball. Consider this little tidbit the announcers tossed into our laps: Spieth, who’s 23 years of age, is the second-youngest player ever to win his 10th professional golf event. The youngest is the aforementioned Tiger Woods; the third youngest is a guy out of Ohio named Jack Nicklaus.

Think about that for a moment. Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Jack Nicklaus.

The young Texan surely understands that he currently is walking among some pretty tall cotton.

Tiger hits another bump on the road back

When TV commentators and other media representatives refer to you as a “legend” in your particular profession, everything that goes wrong in your life is magnified exponentially.

So it is with “golf legend” Tiger Woods.

The fellow who has won 14 major golf titles got himself arrested and charged with “driving under the influence” in Florida.

Woods has been sidelined for some time now. He’s seeking to recover from injury and at least two surgeries on his back. He’s also had some more personal difficulties, stemming from¬†a 2009 incident involving his then-wife and reports that surfaced later about his serial marital infidelity.

Now this.

Woods had said something just the other day about how he hadn’t “felt this good in years,” meaning, I suppose, that his back pain is subsiding and that he might be able — maybe soon — to return to golf.

We don’t yet know whether he was “under the influence” of alcohol or something else.

I am a fairly avid golf fan. I am pulling for Tiger to come back. It’s just not the same without him competing for tournament victories on Sunday.

But, c’mon man! This isn’t the way back to where you need to be — or where your many golf fans want you to be.

Masters exerts ‘prior restraint’?

The third round of the Masters Tournament is about to end and I want to comment on something that has stuck in my craw for the past several years.

CBS Sports has been broadcasting this professional golf “major” for as long as I can remember. Some years back, CBS hired a smart aleck announcer named Gary McCord to broadcast golf on the network.

McCord played on the PGA tour. He didn’t win any tournaments. But he fancies himself as a comedian. I don’t find him funny.

Neither do the snotty souls who belong to Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, where they play the Masters every year.

What did these ultra-rich guys do some years back? They ordered CBS to pull McCord off its broadcast team for the Masters.

Why did this stick in my craw? It kind of smacks of a form of “prior restraint,” with an exclusive,¬†private country club dictating to a major media outlet how it can do its job.

This brings to mind a question I wish I would have asked the corporate owner of the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years until Aug. 31, 2012. William Morris III is chairman of Morris Communications, which owns the G-N. It is based in Augusta, Ga. Morris is a member of Augusta National, an outfit filled with members who are “invited” to join; one doesn’t apply for membership, mind you. The blue-noses at the country club have to ask you to join.

As near as I can tell, the predominant qualifier for membership has something to do with the size of one’s bank account.

The question I wish I would have asked Billy Morris? Why do you people at Augusta National take yourselves so damn seriously?

Pulling for a comeback from Tiger

Call me strange.

But I do enjoy watching pro golf on TV more than pro football. Pro basketball, too, except when the Portland Trail Blazers are on the tube.

Accordingly, I keep hoping for a comeback from a young man named Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, who announced this week he is going to skip next week’s Masters Tournament, an event he has won four times.

Tiger’s back is acting up. He can’t rehab it sufficiently to allow him to play at a competitive level. So, he’s sitting out an event that the great Jack Nicklaus once said he’d win more Masters green jackets than he and the late Arnold Palmer did combined; Jack won six of ’em, Arnie won four.

I’m not entirely sure why I remain drawn to Tiger Woods, the golfer. Tiger the husband turned out to be pretty much of a dirt bag, as he cheated wildly on his gorgeous then-wife, Elin.

It pretty much went to hell after that for Tiger.

Tiger remains on the injured list

He hurt his back. His major championship total stands at 14; he says he wants to surpass the 18 majors owned by Nicklaus.

I don’t know what pro golf’s TV ratings have done since Tiger hit the skids. I’m guessing many TV watchers are like me: They’d prefer to watch Tiger on the course than nearly anyone else.

I want the young man to make a full comeback. Do I care if he breaks the all-time major championship record? Not really. Jack Nicklaus, by all rights, should stand as the greatest of all time.

Tiger Woods belongs on the golf course — and on my TV screen.

Arnie’s death somehow overshadows that other event


I’m feeling strange this afternoon.

My intention had been to focus on tonight’s presidential joint appearance between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m a political geek/nerd/junkie. I love this stuff. I cannot help myself.

My plan was to get myself psyched up — so to speak — for the 90-minute made-for-TV special. No commercials, too! How¬†about that?

Then the sad news broke yesterday. Arnold Palmer died at 87 in a Pittsburgh hospital.

Arnie was gone! He was one of my all-time favorite pro athletes. I agonized with him when he lost big golf tournaments. I cheered when he won them. I loved watching him smash a golf ball with that self-taught, non-textbook style of his.

I had the pleasure of meeting him once, in 1981, at a golf tournament in Orlando, Fla. He was past his golfing prime by then. That didn’t matter to those of us gathered around the practice tee to shake his hand and get his autograph, both of which he delivered with a smile and some brief small talk.

I keep reading the tributes from his peers, his golfing descendants, the reporters who covered him.

They sadden me. In this vague, unexplainable way I always thought Arnold Palmer was indestructible.

Well, he wasn’t.

So I’m going to watch this Clinton-Trump verbal slugfest tonight. However, I’m expecting to¬†struggle¬†to stay focused on what these two politicians say to — and about — each other.

Arnie is gone; long live The King


Sitting on my desk at home is a golf program.

It contains a couple of signatures. One of them belongs to Jim Dent, a pretty good journeyman golfer known in his day as a big hitter off the tee.

The other signature belongs to The King of golf, Arnold Daniel Palmer.

Arnie died today at the age of 87. Man, I am sad tonight.

Here’s my Arnie story that I want to share in remembrance of one of my favorite all-time athletes, who¬†ranks with Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali and Mario Andretti as¬†sporting icons¬†I used to root for over many years.

I traveled to Orlando, Fla., in October 1981. My late aunt and uncle — Tom and Verna Kanelis — lived there at the time. Tom was an avid golfer and I played¬†a couple rounds of¬†golf with him while visiting¬†them in central Florida.

One evening, he asked me if I wanted to see the World Team Championship at the Walt Disney World. “Arnold Palmer is going to be there,” he said. “Are you kidding? Absolutely!” I answered.

We drove to the Disney resort the next day. Tom had gotten a couple of tickets to watch the first round of golf.

We went to the practice tee where — son of a gun! — there was Arnie hitting practice shots on the driving range alongside Jim Dent.

I asked Dent to sign my program after he was done hitting some tee shots. He did so with a smile and was a terrific gentleman. Then we waited for Palmer.

Arnie finished hitting his practice balls and walked off the tee to a small gaggle of fans.

You hear about superstars who are aloof. Some of them refuse to sign autographs. Arnie was neither. He was friendly, engaging and as he signed his name to the documents thrust toward him, he took a moment to talk to us individually.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” I recall him asking me. “Have fun out there,” he said. I recall telling him I planned to walk the course among the fans accompanying him and his playing partner, Larry Nelson. “Have a great time,” he said.

OK. My story isn’t unique. It’s like perhaps thousands of stories that other golf fans — and Arnie fans — can tell. I want to share it here as my way of conveying that this guy was the real deal.

He truly was golf’s greatest ambassador. He was an everyman who happened to play a hell of a great game of golf.

Another great golfer, Jack Nicklaus, said this: “At this point I don’t know what happened, and I suppose it is not important what happened. What is important is that we just lost one of the incredible people in the game of golf and in all of sports.”

There you have it.

Rest in peace, Arnie. You surely gave this fan one of the great thrills of his life.

Tiger will be just fine, thank you very much

Tiger Woods didn’t win the PGA this past weekend. He’s still looking to win his 15th major golf tournament.

And strange as it seems, golf’s pundit class is giving him a bad time because he hasn’t won a major since 2008.

Get off it, already.


Even if Tiger Woods never wins another major championship, he’ll be able to look back on what has been an extraordinary golf career. He’s won 79 PGA events overall, second to Sam Snead’s 82 wins. He is stuck on 14 major wins, with Jack Nicklaus ahead of him with 18. The way I see it, being mentioned in the same sentence with Slammin’ Sammy and the Golden Bear puts Tiger in the middle of some pretty tall cotton.

I think he’ll win more majors. Whether he catches Jack is another matter. Still, it shouldn’t really matter when measuring the impact Tiger Woods has had on the game of golf.

All of this armchair handwringing reminds of what sports talkers used to say about auto racing legend Mario Andretti, who’s generally recognized as one of the greatest drivers in the history of his sport. But he won only a single Indianapolis 500 race, in 1969. He figured to win many Indy races when he arrived on the scene in 1965. He had bad luck at Indy.

Someone finally asked Mario to comment on one of his many failures to win a second Indy 500. His answer, which I only can paraphrase now, was classic. He said he doesn’t measure the success of his career by what he didn’t do at Indy. He prefers to look instead at the big picture: Daytona 500 victory in 1967, Formula One championship in 1978 … and a host of victories at tracks worldwide of all kinds and shapes racing open-wheeled cars, NASCAR stock cars, Formula One road course vehicles.

I believe the totality of Tiger Woods’s career, when it finally concludes, will measure up.