Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

By natural hazards we refer to ravines, broken faces of the land, brooks, and the like, each of which should be used to its best advantage. There is something so undeniably pleasant about a natural hazard that it seems out of the question to duplicate it artificially. DONALD ROSS

 

    

Wednesday
Dec072016

The Story Behind Bryson's Side Saddle Move

Adam Schupak at PGATour.com has all of the thinking and specs behind Bryson DeChambeau's eye-opening putting switch.

Besides clarifying that he doesn't like the name side-saddle or "face-on" DeChambeau is very open about his putting struggles and the motive behind the switch.

DeChambeau practiced with it for at least 7 hours a day for the past two weeks. When he describes the benefits of looking at the hole with both eyes and swinging his right arm in a pendulum motion, he makes it sound simple."It's more bio-mechanically efficient," he said. "I take it back with a certain amount of energy with a certain acceleration profile that lets it go a certain distance."

Wednesday
Dec072016

Bjorn All Over The Map On Ryder Cup Qualifying

The headlines were kind to new European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, who will be tootling around Paris in 2018.

Let's hope he drives his cart in more orderly fashion than this quote, featured in Mark Tallentire's Guardian report:

“There’s a lot of nuances into this and they all need to be looked at,” Bjorn said. “Selection will be reviewed, and it should be, because the world and the game of golf is a moving thing. But we’re in no immediate rush and no panic to do it. We’ll look at it carefully. We might stay where we are but we might also come up with a few tweaks. Almost the biggest task at hand is not to get too panicked about not having the trophy on this side of the Atlantic at the moment. There’s so many aspects but I’m just trying to gather all the information to set out a plan.”

It doesn't sound like much will change in Europe. Given that the European Tour needs the Ryder Cup to ensure players remain members, look for defectors like Paul Casey and Russell Knox to continually be penalized for disloyalty. I get it from a business perspective, but as a fan I want the most competitive teams possible.

Wednesday
Dec072016

David Leadbetter Announces Split With Pupil Lydia Ko

Teachers and pupils split all the time, though in golf it's a bit unusual to see the coach announce the parting of ways with an extensive statement.

Here is the statement "on behalf of" David Leadbetter regarding the end of his Lydia Ko partnership:

“These things happen in the world of coaching, whether it’s Jurgen Klinsmann with the US National Soccer Team or Novak Djokovic who just separated from his coach Boris Becker this week. This turnover is all part of the coaching business.

We as a team want to thank Lydia for the privilege of helping her develop her game over the past three years. During which time she has amassed close to $7.5 million in prize money, has won 12 LPGA titles including two Majors, twice won the CME Championship, youngest Rookie of the Year in 2014, youngest Rolex Player of the Year in 2015, won the silver medal at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, and achieved a host of other records. At present Lydia is number one in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.  Our goal from our very first coaching session with Lydia in November of 2013 was to create a vision and blueprint for this extraordinary talent designed around improving her full swing shot-making abilities, power, and short game performance.  Lydia’s tournament results and statistics in each of the last three seasons clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of our plan.

Lydia is not only an exceptional player, but also an exceptional person. She is a perfect role model for any young golfer to follow on how to conduct oneself on the golf course, interact with the public, and give back to the game. Lydia has been an absolute pleasure to coach and she felt the staff at the Leadbetter Golf Academy Headquarters at Champions Gate has been like an extended family to her.

We, the Leadbetter Golf Academy team, have prided ourselves on working with great talent through the years. Our team, including Sean Hogan, Director of Instruction at The Leadbetter Academies, plus other members of Lydia’s support team who have helped guide her, will walk away knowing that we have helped a great talent reach the highest pinnacle. We are proud of the part we have played in supporting her success. She has created a record that will be incredibly hard to beat! We believe that her success reinforces our position as leaders in the development of champion golfers around the world.

We wish Lydia the very best for the future and know that, going forward, if she is able to withstand the many outside pressures associated with being number one in the world, and if her team keep their expectations realistic, then she can go on to even bigger and better things.”

Ok, we didn't need the hard sell!

Ko is developing quite the track record, having fired her first coach for Leadbetter just one week after signing with IMG. More recently, she fired another caddie and is believed to be leaving Callaway for PXG.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Report: USGA, R&A Proposing Club Shortening 

Mike Stachura reports on the October notice sent to manufacturers proposing the shortening of maximum club length to 46.5 inches to combat a distance explosion that isn't happening, but apparently would be the deal-killer should all elite players go to 48 inches.

Stachura writes:

The notice makes the case that a universal switch to the current limit of 48 inches by professional players would result in an increase in driving distance of “as much as six yards.” They did not note any potential change in accuracy. It is generally believed that longer golf clubs are less accurate, especially at driver length.

Once again, anything not to touch the ball.

As Stachura notes, less accuracy comes with longer clubs, so why restrict someone from a longer club? Particularly when the Joint Statement of Principles was once concerned with protecting accuracy?

It's similar to players choosing to go to 64 degree wedges, where the increased chance of missing offsets any distinct and consistent de-skilling of the game.

Tuesday
Dec062016

Closer Look: Return Of A Legend, Tiger's Scotty Cameron Putter

As we discussed on this week's ShackHouse there will be renewed interest in Tiger's old Scotty Cameron putter. And I suspect even more what-could-have-been analysis given that he putts noticeably better with it and seemed to know that by changing back to the Newport 2 model when Nike left the equipment business.

David Dusek takes an interesting Golfweek.com look at what Cameron does for Woods in preparing putters and in particular this model.

The 34-inch putter is made from German stainless steel (GSS), an ultra-soft material Cameron uses for some putters made for Tour players. The heel-toe weighted blade does not have an alignment line, but Woods requested a single dot on the topline so he can confidently put the ideal hitting area of the face directly behind the ball at address.

Cameron said Woods always liked the feel of the grips on some Ping putters he played as a junior, so he had Ping PP58 grips installed on the Newport 2 GSS over the years. Cameron said his team would submerge the grips in acetone to dissolve the grip’s white paint. Woods has also, in some instances, used a “blackout” version of the Ping putter grip.

Tuesday
Dec062016

Putting: Bryson Unveils Side-Side-Saddle-Meets-Kuchar Stroke

If Sam Snead and Matt Kuchar taught a 2015 U.S. Amateur champion how to putt, here's what Bryson DeChambeau might look like. Wait, this is how he's planning to putt at the 2016 Shark Shootout?

This is how he's planning to putt at the 2016 Franklin Templeton Shootout!

DeChambeau tees off this week with partner Lexi Thompson. Greg Hardwig profiled the duo for the Naples Daily News. The all-Puma pairing also played together at the CVS Charity Classic.

Tuesday
Dec062016

ShackHouse 23: Tiger's Back! With Harold Varner III

We promised a pop-up!

ShackHouse returns to grade Tiger's successful comeback, the possibilities for 2017, those eye-opening 20-1 Masters odds and where a Woods comeback might rank in all modern sports comebacks.

(We golfers know Ben Hogan still holds the comeback crown!)

Then we are joined by special guest Harold Varner III, winner of the 2016 Australian PGA at Royal Pines.

Here's a fun John Pye AP story on the win.

And if you missed this from the Safeway Open, Varner's sweet shot.

As always, you can subscribe on iTunes and or just refresh your device subscription page. Here is The Ringer's show page.

Same deal with Soundcloud for the show, and Episode 23 is here to listen to right now!

As always, ShackHouse is brought to you by Callaway, who have a couple of very cool holiday-related promotions worth checking out.

Their holiday gift guide is a great chance to check out the personalization options now available plus a couple of other easy golfer gifts if you're struggling to find something original.

Chrome Softs with names in the color and number you want!

MD3 Milled Wedges with cool custom stampings. Gift away!

And all online orders get free shipping right now with the promo code HOUSE.

Monday
Dec052016

Video: Paige Spiranac Talks About Dubai Exemption Trolls

On the eve of the 2016 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, Paige Spiranac, discusses the abuse she received after her sponsor's invite to the 2015 event. Things get emotional...

The video:

Monday
Dec052016

The Scheduling And Financial Ramifications Of Tiger's "Return"

Bob Harig has all sorts of tidbits in this ESPN.com about Tiger's schedule in the wake of his respectable showing at the Hero World Challenge.

There was this gem of a quote from Mark Steinberg, who no doubt has seen some UAE numbers pop up on his phone screen and is enjoying .

"My phone was pretty heated this week leading up to the first round,'' Steinberg said Friday at Albany Golf Club, where the second round of the Hero World Challenge was underway. "But it went from heated to hot.

Heated to hot!

Tiger seems likely to start 2017 in Abu Dhabi or the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (January 30-February 5th) depending on the appearance fee winner and other dynamics (can a Rolex man take Omega's money, or does Shaikh Mohammed have final say?).

There is also the question of Tiger's willingness to fly across the world to reach Torrey Pines in time for the Farmers while asking a lot of his surgically repaired back.

With the Woods Foundation running and benefiting from the rebranded Genesis Open at Riviera, the Dubai option would allow for a week off after Dubai and more sensible start to the season. Tiger would also be able to make his return to Los Angeles even grander by making it his first domestic start.

Harig makes this point about scheduling influences and differences for Woods.

Regardless of what Woods chooses to do, it is unlikely he will be eligible for the WGC-Mexico Championship or the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship, meaning he might play in some events he normally does not play. Woods is likely to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he has won eight times.

The story also delves into Tiger's more promising leverage in negotiating equipment deals, with Harig predicting Bridgestone as his first choice for a golf ball.

Finally, there is the timing of Tiger's return and the big ratings that came with it: the PGA Tour is believed to be ready to re-open their weekend television rights. Commissioner Ironclad steps down December 31st and hands Jay Monahan the keys to the PGA Tour Citation, re-working the weekend television rights may be priority number one. A resurgent Tiger certainly improves their leverage after dreadful fall ratings and mostly flat or down weekend numbers in 2016.

But will the major networks or potential new blood in the streaming world be enticed to pay more given Tiger's spotty playing record?

Monday
Dec052016

Tiger Ratings Bump: 2016 Hero World Challenge Edition

Here are highlights from the traditional Tiger ratings bump, 2016 Hero World Challenge edition.

The Thursday numbers are off the charts given how many Americas have jobs.

The third round overnights coming in as the highest since the Memorial are eye-opening too...

Thursday (Golf Channel, final numbers)

Golf Channel’s Round 1 coverage delivered a .86 coverage rating / 782,000 viewers: +190% year over year and +74% over 2014, the last time Tiger Woods was in the field at this event.

Most-watched Round 1 this year since The Open Round 1 in July (excluding Day 1 of the Ryder Cup).

Most-watched Round 1 at this event on Golf Channel (2007-16).

Excluding Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, most-watched 4th quarter Round 1 in Golf Channel history (2006-16)

Friday (Golf Channel)

Friday’s live coverage of the Hero World Challenge delivered a .45 US HH overnight rating, a 200% increase year over year and a 61% increase from 2014.

Second highest round 2 overnight at this event on Golf Channel (2007-16).
 
Saturday (Golf Channel and NBC, overnights)

NBC: Saturday’s live coverage on NBC delivered a 1.59 US HH overnight rating, a 92% increase year over year and 73% over 2014. Highest Round 3 overnight at this event since 2011. Highest PGA TOUR Round 3 overnight since the Memorial round 3 in June (1.63), excluding the Majors and Ryder Cup.

Golf Channel: Saturday’s live lead-in coverage on Golf Channel delivered a .68 US HH overnight rating, a 162% increase year over year and a 51% increase over 2014. Highest Round 3 lead-in coverage at this event (2011-16).
 
Sunday (Golf Channel and NBC, overnights)

NBC: Sunday’s live coverage on NBC delivered a 1.08 US HH overnight rating, a 54% increase YOY and a 30% increase from 2014.

Golf Channel: Sunday’s live lead-in coverage delivered a .43 US HH overnight rating, a 126% increase YOY and a 48% increase from 2014. 2nd highest final round lead-in at this event (2011-16).

Monday
Dec052016

Thomas Bjorn To Be Named Europe's Next Ryder Captain

He's paid his dues by tolerating Monty, he hasn't run over anyone at previous Ryder Cups, and Thomas Bjorn deserves to be Europe's captain in Paris in most minds (except Ian Woosnam's.)

Still, with Europe getting beaten pretty handily and many questions about their eligibility system, a little more infighting, controversy and overall petty bickering would have been nice...in the holiday spirit.

John Huggan with the exclusive report.

Monday
Dec052016

Roundup: Tiger's 24-Birdie, Final Round 76-Shooting Week Back

As we noted today on Morning Drive in assessing the reation to Tiger's week, the views on his return seem to be split between respectful empathy celebrating the obvious positives, to continued apathy over an imperfect performance. But how could any golfer expect perfection after surgeries, yips and even signs of stage fright?

Both Doug Ferguson and Steve DiMeglio worked the red shirt into their ledes and then assessed.

Ferguson for the AP:

Woods showed no stress in his swing or in walking five straight rounds, starting with the pro-am. He had plenty of length, at times going after his driver with a little more pop to clear a bunker. He holed a few long putts . He missed a few short ones. At times, he looked like he had never been away for that long.

And at times it did.

After a lede with Rickie Fowler celebrating the return of the red shirt, DiMeglio for USA Today in nearly identical words to Ferguson's:

His return to competitive golf after an absence of nearly 16 months — which included two surgeries to his troublesome back — was a success on nearly all counts as the positives far outweighed the negatives. This despite the final-round 76 and the final-hole double bogey as he finished 15th in the elite 17-man field, 14 shots behind Hideki Matsuyama, who won at 18 under and was two clear of Henrik Stenson. It was Matsuyama’s fourth victory in five starts and he was a staggering 90 under during that stretch.

Bob Harig for ESPN.com offered a measured tone in an overall positive take that also included assessments from Tiger's last two instructors pre-Chris Como:

"I really like how much longer his backswing is -- especially with the driver,'' said Sean Foley, Woods' former coach. "I like that his lower body and pelvis are moving more. The movement is not restricted; it is much more free. He looks great.''

Another former coach, Haney Haney, said: "The swing is smooth; there are no apparent issues.''

Golf World's Jaime Diaz offered this:

Most of all, there was a palpable and overdue ease to his game. Woods looked leaner, which seemed to aid in more swinging of the clubhead and less straining of the body. Along with his speed, he had rhythm and flow and balance. Technically, his stance was narrower, posture taller, hip turn bigger and his once rigid left leg softer through impact. There seemed to be less thinking over the ball, and more of a subconscious freedom.

Jeff Babineau in Golfweek's on-site assessment was broken into five areas of interest related to Woods' game:

But he showed he has plenty of game. Sure, four rounds isn’t very much to go on. But with more chances to compete and if he can get back to some semblance of a normal schedule, Woods should be able not only to contend again, but win again.

Definitely.

Mark Cannizzaro in the New York Post:

Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, had a modest goal for his man for the week.

“I thought it was good, a lot of positives,’’ LaCava said. “He’s upright, No. 1. Seriously. You laugh, but I think that’s good. I love the fact that he was hitting a lot of shots that he was kind of picturing in his mind. There were a few loose ones, obviously, but he hit plenty of good shots, plenty of good things to take away from it. And he made some putts.

“The fact that’s he’s making birdies is a good sign. I wasn’t going to compare him to the rest of the field. It’s a great field, they’ve been playing all year and they’ve all been playing great.

Michael Bamberger writing for Golf.com:

No player made more birdies than Woods over the four rounds -- he had 24 of them -- and nobody had more double bogeys than Woods, who had six, half of them on the par-4 18th. Woods's has been the greatest closer in golf history, but those three doubles suggest a certain mental frailty.
That's golf. You can say whatever you want to yourself and to reporters and to your caddie but the little boxes on a scorecard leave no room for self-talk.

Gary Koch broke down Tiger's swing on the broadcast and it's worth a look.

From the detractor side, Brandel Chamblee on Golf Central (16 minute mark) didn't see an improvement in the swing or chip yips Woods has suffered.

Monday
Dec052016

Melissa Reid Makes The LPGA Deadline This Time

I forget how much I enjoy reading Q-School stories this time of year, with the event at LPGA International included no shortage of good ones.

Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry talked to England's Melissa Reid about getting her card after losing her mum to a 2012 car accident and missing the entry deadline in 2015.

“It’s a unique event,” said Reid. “I hope to never come back here again.”

As for her longtime agent, well, she might be more relieved than anyone.

“She’s a bit off the hook,” Reid laughed.

And Beth Allen now holds cards on both the LET and LPGA, with the world No. 63 guided to tour status with Sophie Gustafson on the bag. Baldry writes:

Earlier this week, Allen read somewhere that she was the top-ranked player in the field at Q-School at No. 63.

“I just thought, oh wish I hadn’t seen that,” said the honest Allen, who has played full time in Europe since 2009.

On the collegiate side, USC is losing Karen Chung to the LPGA Tour while UCLA says goodbye to Bronte Law, who obtained partial status, writes Baldry. This is notable on several levels, including the perk of having a year-end Q-School that allows college players to make a go of it and return to school if they do not succeed.

Sunday
Dec042016

Video: The Wild(life) Hazards Of Leopard Creek

This European Tour page has a nice roundup of the various (amazing) wildlife videos shot during last week's Alfred Dunhill Championship.

With Leopard Creek Country Club on the border of Kruger National Park, the wildlife stood out as Brandon Stone took the title. In fact, Stone can be seen here taking in the majestic creatures during the final round:

Only in South Africa... #DunhillChamps πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

A video posted by European Tour (@europeantour) on Dec 4, 2016 at 3:10am PST

 

Sunday
Dec042016

First Look: New 7th At Royal Portrush

Welcome the busy and talented design firm of Ebert and Mackenzie to Instagram by following and checking out the first glimpse of their Royal Portrush renovation.

The firm is adding two holes to a course currently ranked 13th by Golf Magazine's esteemed panel.

We saw a preview of the planned changes here. While many of us feared tinkering with a classic to create a tent city on the current 17th and 18th, adding two holes was the only way for The Open to cone to Northern Ireland. Furthermore, losing the 17th hole's massive fairway bunker was a shame but it seems "Big Nellie" has surfaced at the new 572-yard 7th:

Sunday
Dec042016

Jack Nicklaus To Verne Lundquist: Yes Sir!

With Verne Lundquist working his last SEC game, huge college football fan Jack Nicklaus joined the long list of those serenading the veteran CBS announcer.

Nicklaus even threw in a "Yes, sir!" to end his salute. Though I still feel the "maybe" is essential to the call:

Saturday
Dec032016

Has Tiger Already Restored The Fear Factor?

As his world ranking slipped into the triple-digits--and would have moved to a four-digit number if not for the Hero World Challenge--lost was Tiger Woods' ability to intimidate a leaderboard by his mere presence.

While he has a ways to go in getting his game in peak shape, Tiger's already shown flashes of brilliance and putting prowess not seen in years. Another early run Saturday in the Bahamas may have already restored his good name. Or, at the very least, the Tiger brand known for its ability intimidate by mere leaderboard presence.

I note this because of two post round comments. The first was from Karen Crouse's New York Times game story, which quotes the hottest player on the planet, Hideki Matsuyama, World Challenge leader by nine.

“Only Tiger could take a year and a half off and put up the numbers that he’s putting up this week,” Matsuyama said. “I don’t care how many strokes I’m leading over him, I still worry about him, fear him.”

And this from Jordan Spieth in Jeff Babineau's Golfweek.com story:

“I’m pumped to see what he’s doing this week. We heard a long roar at 5 – a putt, or a chip-in – when we were on 4, and I looked at the board, and they flipped him to 4 (under) through 5, and I’m like, ‘All right,’ you know? … Today, in those conditions to be 4 or 5 under par, that’s as low as anyone is going. So it’s there, and if he wasn’t rusty, he’d be winning this tournament.”

Saturday
Dec032016

Video: Golfer To Root For Files, Paez Family Story

A year ago yesterday the San Bernardino shooting took fourteen lives and impacted countless others.

Rich Lerner narrates an incredible piece produced by Sarah Chovnick on the Paez family. Asian Tour professional golfer Nick's mother, Julie, was shot twice in the terrorist attack.

Friday
Dec022016

Woods Switched Back To His Scotty The Day Nike Quit The Equipment Business

We know players make club switches to appease sponsors and face bag requirements. But most club companies ultimately trust a player to do what is best for their game if they are struggling. Tiger Woods has never been woeful on the greens. But before his layoff, he wasn't as good as he once was.

Given that Tiger Woods won 13 of 14 majors with his trusty Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter, his response to a question about switching back to it today prompted an uncharacteristically blunt answer.

From Will Gray's full item on this fascinating insider issue.

“The day that we (Nike) were no longer a part of the hard goods side,” Woods said when asked when he put his old putter back into play.

Brandel Chamblee was asked about his expectations for the weekend but instead noted that Woods has moved into a unique place where he can pick whatever he wants in his bag. But the question may now linger: why didn't one of the greatest players of all time and richest golfers in history have the freedom to putt with his trusty flatstick?

Friday
Dec022016

Roundup: Tiger's Bogey-Free, Pain-Free 65

If you were watching today's Morning Drive you saw all of Tiger's pre-Hero Challenge second round warmup. Now, that might seem like overkill but a student of the game would have quickly realized they were seeing something fascinating. 

The contrast with his day one warm-up was striking. Friday, Woods was joking, smiling, twirling and warming up like someone who has won five World Challenges merely enjoying a relaxed silly-season day. Yesterday, his first-round preparation mirrored his pre-major championship round routine: precise number of shots, specific order of pre-round practice and not much banter. Few other players were chatting it up with him, but they sure were keeping an eye on him.

The contrast in moods spoke to the enormous and understandable burden carried by Woods. Whether the joviality would translate in round two remained an open question.

But a workmanlike bogey-free 65 not only proved Woods once again has the fire to compete, but it also raised the golf writing bar amongst those on site.

Steve DiMeglio nailed his USA Today lede:

NASSAU, Bahamas — Well, he is Tiger Woods.

Doug Ferguson's AP story seized on a wacky, Seve-esque 16th hole par, one we will always remember because of the surreal reaction in front of no playing partner (due to a Justin Rose WD) and almost no crowd (due to the tournament location).

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods saved par from the dunes with a shot so good that two spectators ran over and scooped up sand for a souvenir.

It also served as motivation Friday at the Hero World Challenge. The tee shot on the par-3 eighth that landed next to a bush was so bad that Woods said he told caddie Joe LaCava after his par putt, "I'm not dropping a shot."

And he didn't.

Golfweek's Jeff Babineau got right to the point:

NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas – Well, that was a little better, don’t you think? Tiger Woods, on Day 2 of the great comeback trail, showed us what we’ve been missing since, oh, maybe 2013, when he won his last five PGA Tour titles.

Jason Sobel worked his way into his ESPN.com story of Tiger's great day more deliberately, trying to pinpoint the key moment that signaled signs of the old cat's presence.

No, the moment he truly started evoking memories of the guy who's won 14 major championships occurred on the next tee, the par-3 eighth, when his impact through the ball was immediately followed by one of his first audible exhortations during the round.

"One yard!" he shouted, a command he often gave when he was hitting his best shots.

The ball listened, nestling just a few feet from the hole en route to a fourth birdie and a share of the lead.

Karen Crouse focuses her New York Times story on caddie Joe LaCava, who has stayed on the sidelines and out of the limelight while Woods prepared to come back.

His joints were stiff and his muscles were sore after two rounds of carrying Tiger Woods’s bag at the Hero World Challenge. But, he said, “I’m lucky to feel it.”

For 466 days, Woods’s back operations left LaCava in loopers’ limbo. He was neither employed nor unemployed. His financial arrangement with Woods, for whom he has worked since the end of 2011, freed him from having to seek temporary employment.

“He’s taken good care of me since the first day I’ve worked for him,” said LaCava, who politely declined to divulge any specifics.

Bob Harig wonders if Tiger's new non-free safety physique has led to more flexibility, better tempo and a better golf body.

Woods has also apparently learned to stay off the heavy weights. He said his weight is less than 180 after a recent illness, though he looks leaner through his upper body as well.

Perhaps that has allowed him to swing more freely. Woods has mostly seemed under control here, without the violent swings that sometimes would creep into his game in recent years. No matter his weight, Woods has always been able to hit the ball plenty far, and that might be among the most encouraging things he's showed this week. His power is back.

"I can't do what I used to do -- weights, running,'' he said. "My first probably five, six years on tour, I ran 30 miles a week. I would run five, six miles almost every day, at least four. Before a round, after a round, it didn't matter. There's no way in hell I'm doing that now. That's just aging. That's just having four knee surgeries, three backs. My body's been through it.''

Woods made one positively jaw-dropping admission following his round. Mark Cannizzaro reports for the New York Post.

Asked when he went back to using the Scotty Cameron, Woods said, “The day that we were no longer a part of the hard goods side,’’ referring to his main sponsor, Nike, getting out of the club and ball business.

The putt and great reaction:

Currently T9, Tiger tees off at 12:24 pm ET Saturday with Rickie Fowler.