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Tiger Woods’ comments after “pain-free” practice round continue to stoke fires of optimism

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Good news, Tiger Woods fans. TW played a pain-free practice round at the Hero World Challenge site on Sunday, suggesting further that optimism about this return isn’t totally unfounded.

Woods told ESPN’s Bob Harig: “The fact that I don’t have any pain in my lower back compared to what I was living with for years, it’s just remarkable.”

The 14-time major champion reportedly played a brisk 18-hole practice round using a cart that took just over two hours.

Regarding his Hero return, Woods said.

“It could be the next step, I just didn’t know [when the pain would occur]. That’s tough to live with. And it’s been a struggle for years. To finally come out on the good side of it is exciting. I am stiffer. Of course, [his lower back is] fused. But I don’t have the pain. Life is so much better.”

He added he’s shocked just how good his back feels.

“I am a little surprised…The fact that I don’t have any pain in my lower back compared to what I was living with for years, it’s just remarkable.”

Woods added he enjoyed measuring his game against world No. 1 Dustin Johnson during his Friday round at Trump National. He did not add, however, that he was disappointed with the comparison; which is certainly a good sign.

Ultimately, though, John Wood, Matt Kuchar’s caddie, talking as part of Golf.com’s Tour Confidential panel, offered the take we surely all second about Woods’ return.

“The three things I would love to see is a pain-free golf swing, a lot of drivers off the tee and, like Michael said, joy. I hope he looks like a junior golfer out there sometimes, with a smile and having fun. I think that’ll be a good starting point.”

Indeed. Woods will make his return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Thursday. Tee times for the 18-player tournament are yet to be announced.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tom54

    Nov 27, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Tiger has been battling all sorts of injuries for many years. It would be nice if he could play all year without withdrawing cause of the nagging back issues. Until he can accomplish that I will hold my breath and see. No doubt he still knows how to play and compete it’s whether he can get to a level that he will accept. I hope he will enjoy playing again to see how he stacks up with the youngsters that he definitely inspired. He’s been away a while but I hope he has a good time and can get back in the mix. Golf may not need Tiger like in the past but there’s always room for him. We wish him well

  2. Jack Nash

    Nov 27, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    It’ll be good to see Joe again.

  3. Mike Honcho

    Nov 27, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I hope he shoots 12-over.

  4. jd57

    Nov 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Trump National??!! TRIGGERED!!

    Seriously though, that’s great. Love seeing people be healthy and pain free.

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19th Hole

David Leadbetter defends work with Lydia Ko, slams her parents in post. Is he right?

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On the heels of Kevin Van Valkenburg’s ESPN piece on Lydia Ko that features, well, not the best review of his work with his former pupil, David Leadbetter responded via his website.

Leadbetter’s rebuttal, titled, “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener,” points the finger at Ko’s parents for calling for an (in his mind) unjustified coaching switch. He also indicates fatigue in the latter portion of the 2016 season was chiefly to blame for Ko’s poor form, not his coaching.

“Her father, a non-accomplished golfer, heard rumors that she needed to change her swing and made suggestions to Lydia to change it – independently of her coaches. Sean Hogan traveled with her to the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship during the last part of the season and observed Lydia being very confused [with her swing].

“Amazingly enough, despite all of this, she had an excellent chance of remaining No. 1 in the world with a solid finish at the last tournament of the year. She shot 62 (10 under par) in the second round and things seemed to be on track. Her last round, unfortunately, was very average and she just lost out on winning the LPGA Player of the Year.”

Non-accomplished golfer! In a purge that has been widely questioned, Ko dropped Leadbetter, changed caddies, and signed on with PXG at the end of 2016. Arguably the game’s most prodigious talent, Ko hasn’t won since.

Beyond just revelling Ko’s poor performance since the split, Leadbetter defended the decisions he made to change his star pupil’s swing.

“What many people didn’t understand, was that the A Swing, which was a commercial name for a book we published, was for the most part technique that had worked in the early years with Sir Nick Faldo and Nick Price, amongst many others. It was adapted to Lydia in order to make her swing more efficient. If you looked at the statistics, especially greens in regulation, this proved to be true. It was a very simple approach, one she understood and had minimal maintenance….We honestly felt like this was the best approach for Lydia, because not being the strongest player, it provided natural energy to her swing.”

Leadbetter also said he thinks the decision to part ways came entirely from Ko’s parents/team, not her, before concluding with

“There’s no possible way that she can play better than she played for those first three years. It just goes to show, that not always is the grass greener on the other side of the hill!”

While Leadbetter is doubtless right, the grass has not been greener on the other side of the hill thus far, there’s something a tad tasteless in that remark, isn’t there?

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Was Leadbetter right to respond. And further, was he right to change Ko’s swing?

 

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19th Hole

WATCH Sergio Garcia’s club toss for the ages

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Do we chalk this up to the dangers of repressed rage? Sergio Garcia seemed just a little too cool with his 13 during the Masters….

The Spaniard was anything but cool at TPC San Antonio, Friday, giving a furious axe-toss to his driver after an unsatisfying tee shot at the par-4 fifth hole.

Garcia then spent a considerable amount of time searching for his Callaway Rogue Sub Zero in the woods. His drive ended up well left of the green at the 342-yard hole. Compounding matters further, he proceeded to shank his approach shot across the green, eventually making bogey.

Here’s the full horror.

At 2-over, Garcia is one stroke outside the cut line at the time of this writing.

This seems like an insensitive time to plug our Sergio Garcia: WITB, but what the heck.

 

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Bill Murray’s “Cinderella Story” monologue was totally improvised and totally incorrect

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Bill Murray’s entire iconic “Cinderella Story” monologue in Caddyshack was improvised. This you may have heard, but Chris Nashawaty, in another excerpt on Golf.com from his upcoming book on the making of the movie, sheds a little more light on the scene.

First, this is all that was in the script regarding Carl Spackler’s Masters moment.

SCENE 244: EXT. CLUBHOUSE (SAME DAY—LATE AFTERNOON)
The sky is beginning to darken. CARL, THE GREENSKEEPER, is absently lopping the heads off bedded tulips as he practices his golf swing with a grass whip.

After making the directorial decision to use mums instead of tulips (a good one, as they explode in a cloud of petals at impact), all Ramis asked Murray to do was to do some imaginary commentary, giving an example of how he encouraged himself when running by pretending he was announcing his performance at the Olympics.

The iconic improv wasn’t something refined over multiple takes, either: As Murray told Nashawaty, “Improvising about golf was easy for me. And it was fun.”

Nashawaty transcribes Spackler’s speech, and here’s the thing: it makes no sense logistically and the greenskeeper’s club selection and distances are immensely curious.

CARL SPACKLER:

What an incredible Cinderella story. This unknown comes outta nowhere to lead the pack at Augusta. He’s at the final hole. He’s about 455 yards away, he’s gonna hit about a two iron, I think … (Carl reels back and swats the head off of a mum. Petals fly like confetti) Boy, he got all of that. The crowd is standing on its feet here at Augusta. The normally reserved Augusta crowd is going wild … (he pauses as he notices some golfers coming) for this young Cinderella who’s come out of nowhere. He’s got about 350 yards left. He’s going to hit about a five iron, it looks like, don’t you think? (Carl pulls the grass whip back to demolish the next mum) He’s got a beautiful backswing … That’s … Oh! He got all of that one! He’s gotta be pleased with that. The crowd is just on its feet here. He’s a Cinderella boy, tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. And he’s got about 195 yards left, and he’s got a, it looks like he’s got about an eight iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent. Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greenskeeper, now about to become the Masters champion. (Carl reels back one last time and — Swat! — blasts the third mum to smithereens) It looks like a mirac . . . It’s in the hole! IT’S IN THE HOLE!!!

So, Carl Spackler was apparently playing the par-4 18th hole as a three-shotter? Augusta’s 18th hole was ~400 yards at the time Murray gave his monologue (it does play about 460 yards now).

If you’re following on shot tracker

  • His first shot, a 2-iron, goes 105 yards
  • His second shot, from about 350 yards, flies 155 yards (with a 5-iron)
  • With an 8-iron, he holes out from 195

Makes perfect sense, right? Just another bit of comic absurdity from golf’s great comedy.

Here’s the scene.

 

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