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

I know well two great champions of earlier years who cannot now always carry a hazard one hundred yards from the tee, but who still play the game and have shots in their bag which Hagen and Jones would view with envy. On my ideal course these shall not be denied nor yet humiliated.  ROBERT HUNTER

 

    

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.

Friday
Dec022016

Video: Jarrod Lyle Aces Fifth At Royal Pines

Always great to see two-time cancer survivor Jarrod Lyle on the golf course, but especially when he aces the 5th at Royal Pines.

From the Australian PGA first round:

Thursday
Dec012016

Roundup: Tiger Returns In Thrilling Style, Fades To 73

This comeback was definitely different in tone. Just look at Doug Ferguson's list of previous Tiger Woods comebacks and you recall how many were forced, premature or just downright edgy.

This time around anyone with an ounce of soul did not want to see another boondoggle. Mercifully for golf and Tiger, the 14-time major winner put on a strong early show before succumbing to the fatigue of a hot day, enormous pressure and a lack of tournament seasoning after a long layoff.

Of course, in classic Tiger fashion, he refused to admit to fatigue. That might just be the best evidence he's his ownself again.

Jason Sobel noted this classic stubbornness in his account for ESPN.com:

This was a textbook round for someone who hadn't played in a while: Make a few nervy pars just to ease away the tension; ride the wave of adrenaline up the leaderboard; get overtaken by fatigue down the stretch.

If we needed further proof, though, of Woods' return to familiarity, it came after the round, when he wouldn't acquiesce to that last observation.

He was asked a reasonable question about whether he'd run out of gas before making those two doubles.

"I wouldn't say that," he offered. "I just made some mistakes."

Michael Collins, talking to Sportscenter, also pointed out that post-round, Tiger did not come across as someone physically compromised.

Will Gray at GolfChannel.com makes the shrewd point that the strong start to the round makes this a much better feeling 73 than one in which Woods was just so-so all day.

Had Woods more evenly dispersed his scorecard, had one of his closing doubles instead come amid the three-birdie run that highlighted his opening nine, perhaps the tinge of disappointment might have evaporated. But he didn’t, and they didn’t, and a 73 is more difficult to stomach after Woods appeared on his way to something in the mid-60s.

In case you have a real job and missed it, here is Golf Channel's highlight package.

Alan Shipnuck, writing for Golf.com, offers his overall assessment as a long time Tiger observer, some more elaborate comments from former swing coach Hank Haney and this on the first tee mood scene:

He was dressed in a badass all-black ensemble, befitting the high noon tee time. The World Challenge is a mostly meaningless hit-and-giggle event, but the tee was crowded with reporters, cameramen and assorted rubberneckers. The most dominant golfer of all time does not have the luxury of easing back into competition. The mood was tense, even fraught. As Woods settled over the ball, waggling his discordant new TaylorMade driver, it was so funereal quiet you could hear decorative flags flapping in the distance.

Former swing coach Haney also offered this Tweet:

Steve DiMeglio of USA Today saw enough to declare more wins in Tiger's future.

As long as his body — and especially his back — holds up, Woods will lift championship hardware again. Doesn’t matter if he’ll turn 41 on Dec. 31. The game’s needle will trigger appreciative cheers in trophy ceremonies on the 18th green in the future.

Another longtime Tiger watcher who has seen his share of antics, also had a positive assessment.

Jeff Babineau at Golfweek includes a lot of Tiger playing partner Patrick "Pat" Reed, as well as this:

Cool to see, yes. Tiger Woods, back in action, the round moving like a movie reel, giving us glimpses of the familiar. He pounded a drive 20 yards past Reed, a long knocker, at the third, and roped a 5-iron from 235 yards on the same hole that soared through the air on a string. He enjoyed that one. The ball would run out over the green, but it gave Woods some confidence. When he poured in a 16-foot left-to-righter at the short 14th to save par after being in a sandy area AND a bunker, there was a fist pump. The adrenaline was pumping.

And for Tigerphiles, in case you missed it, Mike Johnson filed an interesting GolfDigest.com look at what it's like to work with Tiger when he's club testing.

Tiger tees off at 11:12 am ET Friday, with Morning Drive and Golf Central bringing early play highlights before the 1 pm telecast.

Thursday
Dec012016

Growing The Game Files: B-Listers Descend On Bakers Bay!

You may recall the wild and crazy antics of A-listers Rickie and Jordan, joined by B-listers Smylie and Justin last spring. The sport declared an inevitable, but untraceable "grow the game" factor stemming from their semi-naked romps at Bakers Bay. The super-exclusive resort loving the free publicity and bridge to the vaunted millennials. I disagreed and certainly understood the hostile "get off my lawn" reaction, but stand by my view that it was all a bit much.

The #SB2K16 group reconvened in New York this fall to little acclaim for reasons unclear, and now the B-listers have been joined by some youthful wannabes for the "winter meetings" that no shortage of folks lauding those wild and crazy antics shared on Snapchat (and then screen-grabbed somewhat creepily wishing they could join in the fun, even though 99.9% of golf courses would eject you for the behavior). 

So I ask, in the spirit of discussion: if PGA Tour players running around on a green and leaving a cake behind for others to clean up is kosher, should the sport do a little soul searching? Or at the very least, bring the stymie if all hell breaking loose is so darned cool?

Wednesday
Nov302016

Roundup: Tiger To Begin "Phase Two" Of His Career

Euphoria, multiple eagles and high-level anticipation! it's all in the Bahamas air as Tiger is finally back! Shoot, the first birdie back may lower his Masters win odds to 5-1. Even the jargon (ballistics!) has been sharp and the almost-funny one liners are back.

All is right with the world!

Oh sure there is a long way to go. The body looks understandably tight (see Tripp Isenhour's breakdown at the 6 minute mark of today's Golf Central). But the swing rhythm and reports like this one from Jeff Babineau sound promising:

Maybe more impressive were some of the low, laser-like long irons he hit into the teeth of the wind on a few of Albany’s difficult par 3s, such as the eighth, playing about 230 yards, where he knocked a tee shot 12 feet past the flag and missed the putt.

As Tiger prepares to launch what is apparently been dubbed "Phase Two", Will Gray notes at GolfChannel.com that there will be entertaining mood swings that may prove more entertaining than the golf.

Sure, some feedback will be gleaned. His swing will inevitably be dissected from all angles, and the short game that bogged him down so often last year will be on full display, for better or worse.

And given such a small sample size, dangerous levels of extrapolation are sure to follow. Every made birdie will mean a 15th major is a fait accompli; every flubbed chip will lead others to question if his career has officially run its course.

Tiger is feeling the good vibes of his time at Hazeltine, as the U.S.A. Ryder Cup team wore onesies and red t-shirts emblazoned with "Make Tiger Great Again" to honor their assistant captain, writes Jason Sobel at ESPN.com. More fascinating may be how much the players want to see him play well again:

"We want our champion back," Bubba Watson said. "We want our Tiger Woods back. We want him playing again."

"He's still just turning every head when he walks into the dining area," added Spieth. "Or if he's on the driving range, I mean, everybody's looking up to see him hit some shots. I was doing it this morning, interested obviously."

Given how long he's been away and how many surgeries Tiger has been through, expectations probably need to be tempered though, as Paige Mackenzie and I discussed today on Morning Drive with Whit Watson.

Tiger will pass 150 or so players just by finishing the Hero World Challenge, even if he finishes last, Bob Harig notes at ESPN.com. Shouldn't there be some sort of ranking points penalty for tournaments of a certain (miniscule) size?

The subdued energy level from his post-pro-am round interview could be read one of two ways: this is just another Hero World Challenge and I've been doing this too long, or, I'm trying to make it sound like this is another Hero World Challenge and that I've been doing this too long.

Tiger tees off at noon ET Thursday. Golf Channel will present Morning Drive starting at 10:30 am. The show will include live shots of Tiger warming up, along with more of our Design Week coverage. At 11:55 Golf Central will take over and provide bonus coverage before the regularly scheduled 12:30 ET start.

Wednesday
Nov302016

LPGA At 22 Domestic Events, U.S. Women's Open A $5M Purse

The momentum of the LPGA Tour's business side continues under Commissioner Mike Whan's tenure, with purse increases at the majors and 22 events in the United States (but three domestic events disappear, including the Swinging Skirts at Lake Merced). 

Randall Mell notes the new events for GolfChannel.com as well as the purse increases.

The new schedule features four new events, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Ladies Open, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open, the Indy Women in Tech event at Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis and the Thornberry Creek Classic in Green Bay, Wis.

This Golfweek report notes the return of match play in a revamped Lorena Ochoa Invitational and the USGA's $1 million purse increase at the U.S. Women's Open.

On the match play event and the dying events.

The biggest surprise of Wednesday’s announcement is that match play will return to the LPGA schedule for the first time since 2012. The Lorena Ochoa Invitational, a tournament that struggled to get a strong field in recent years, will transition into the Lorena Ochoa Match Play and will feature a field of 64. The event will also move from the fall to the spring and will be held at Club de Golf México in Mexico City, the tournament site since 2014.

Three domestic events, the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic (Prattville, Ala.), Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic (Daly City, Calif.), and Coates Golf Championship (Ocala, Fla.) will not return. 2017 will mark the first time the LPGA hasn’t competed on a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail property in 19 years.

Wednesday
Nov302016

Brazil Pushes Back On Rio Woes, But What Does It Mean?

Though most of the world can barely stand to hear about Rio and its Olympic golf course woes, the attention from AFP's recent story has at least prompted a response from the Brazilian Golf Confederation.

Writing to GolfChannel.com, Brazilian Golf Confederation president Paulo Pacheco said the course is enjoying a “soft opening” and says “the maintenance of the course will continue at the same quality level.”

Rex Hoggard writing for GolfChannel.com:

Pacheco also said the Confederation has not requested any financial assistance to help maintain the course from the International Golf Federation or any other international agency.

The IGF has offered Pacheco and the Confederation support in the Olympic course’s transition to a public course, according to a statement released this week.

“As has been the case since the very beginning of this project, getting an accurate picture of the current situation on the ground and the best parties responsible for the short- and long-term success of the Olympic Golf Course has been difficult,” the IGF statement read. “The current economic and political situation in Rio has contributed to this difficulty.

“We have been disheartened by the recent reports regarding the status of the Olympic Golf Course and can only hope that the [Confederation], Rio 2016 and the city of Rio can work together to find both a short-term and long-term solution.”

But the crux of the initial AFP story--that the maintenance contractor is about to walk away due to unpaid bills--remains the most pressing issue and was not definitively answered by the latest response. Given the incredible job done by Progolf and Neil Cleverly to grow the course in and present it so ideally for the Games, this is a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday
Nov302016

World Cup And Kingston Heath As Entertainment

A little lost in all of the Tiger talk this week: the resounding success of the World Cup of Golf. As we discussed on Morning Drive, the format seemed to work well. But it was Kingston Heath that stole the show.

Mike Clayton filed some thoughts on what made the week such a sucess in spite of silly driving distances and also offered this observation about the course's best moments.

More interesting and entertaining to watch was how the field played the short par 4 4th hole (the club’s normal 3rd) There was a wide variety of clubs played from the tee in Saturday’s foursomes play with Rickie Fowler leaving Jimmy Walker a full nine iron to the flag while Soren Kjelsden, the shortest of the top players last week, left his partner Thorbjorn Olesen with barely anything more than a chip from the perfect angle.

A few matches ahead the New Zealanders Ryan Fox and Danny Lee made a comedic mess of a seemingly simple hole by playing it completely the wrong way despite hitting two perfectly good looking shots.

Tuesday
Nov292016

Tiger Explains His Commitment To Safeway And Then A WD

I listened to Tiger's press conference on satellite radio and have read many of the takes from his big return to the media center stage. He sounds like the old, confident Tiger comfortable in his skin and in his ability. But also also threw out the usual bingo board jargon and a few weird answers that make you wonder.

For me, it was hard to reconcile his answer about WD'ing from the Safeway Open with any image of a more mature, responsible Tiger Woods.

Jay Coffin at GolfChannel.com with the answer.

“One, the Ryder Cup helped a lot in the sense that I got a chance to be out there with the guys and see it and feel it and experience it,” he said. “Two, it hurt me by not being able to practice for a week.”

Which then led to a Friday commitment before?!

Here's where flags really rise...

Woods said that he could’ve played Safeway with limited go-to shots in his arsenal but it wasn’t worth the risk to do that on a golf course he hasn’t played since his college days, 20 years ago.

It's Silverado, not St. Andrews!

“As hard as it was on me to take it off and pull out of the event, it was a smart thing to do even though as a competitive athlete it killed me,” Woods said. “But if I’ve waited at the time, what, 13 months, what’s another couple more months? So let’s be a little patient, a little easier on myself, a little smarter and let’s come back when things are a little more together.”

So he wasn't ready. We all would have understood.

Why not just admit that it was a blunder, apologize for entering on a Friday before withdrawing on Monday after a bad weekend, and beg for the forgiveness of those who planned on attending to see you?

Tuesday
Nov292016

Weiskopf's Torrey Pines North Re-Opens

Tom Weiskopf was on hand to christen his remodel of Torrey Pines North and while it sounds positive in its sensitivity toward the everyday golfer's needs, nearly every photo shows very distinct step-tiers in the greens. Which, I realized after seeing them in images, has become such an increasingly rare look.

Anyway, John Strege offered this for GolfDigest.com:

Toward that end, Weiskopf has reduced the number of bunkers from 60 to 42 and made them generally easier from which to play. Average green sizes have increased from about 4,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet. He’s added his signature touch, a drivable par 4, the new seventh hole. The fairways are marginally wider and he’s softened playability in areas fronting the greens.

“My philosophy is to put the penalties on the side of holes,” he said. Penalties are not directly in front, so people can play by missing the ball in front of these greens and still have a good pitch or a chip and even a long putt.”

Kirk Kenney noted Weiskopf's devotion to the project in a San Diego Union-Tribune story that also seems to be accompanied by John Gibbins' photo gallery (I couldn't get more than one image, maybe you'll have better luck).

Weiskopf, 74, and his wife Laurie moved to Del Mar during the 5 1/2 months of the redesign so that he could stay on top of the project.

He observed golfers on the course during the month before construction began to gain insight that improved initial ideas. He listened to concerns of golf members at meetings. And he shared with them his ideas.

One of the major changes was swapping the front nine, featuring the course’s most scenic ocean-side holes, with the back nine. The idea received unanimous support by the time Weiskopf had explained his reasoning.

“I just think this is your brand,” he said. “The ocean, that beach, these ravines, the distant view that we catch down to La Jolla. San Diego, the pier and the surf breaking."

Tuesday
Nov292016

Nicklaus Calls For Special Golf Balls For Courses, But Why Won't He Make The Ball?

Jack Nicklaus' consistency on golf ball regulation is a thing to admire and he continued to lament the expansion of the golf course footprint at this week's HSBC Golf Business Forum.

Here were his comments from a press release summarizing views expressed during a chat with Giles Morgan at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort and Spa.

Despite the positive signs from the increased media interest in tournament golf, the game faces significant challenges—be it from a cost perspective, difficulty for some golfers, and a commitment of time. For Nicklaus, an award-winning course designer whose firm has 410 courses in 41 countries, that challenge can partly be associated with the golf ball.
 
“Fact is, more golf courses have closed in the US in each of the last 10 years than have opened. This is thanks in great part to changes in the golf ball and the distance it travels. Courses have had to change along with it. It’s now a slower game and more expensive than before, and that can’t be a good thing. We don’t want to change the game for the core golfer, but we need to make every effort to offer alternatives to bring more people into the game and keep them in the game. I think we need to develop a golf ball to suit the golf course, rather than build courses to suit a golf ball. Whether it’s a ball that goes 50%, 75%, or 100%, you play a ball that fits the course and your game.
 
“It’s not that big a deal. We used to do it when travelling to play the Open and switching from the large ball to the small. It took us only a day to get used to a different ball. But when land is a dear commodity and water is scarce, you need to do something to respond to today’s situation. It’s the same in life and business."

And yet, even though he's in the golf ball business, Mr. Nicklaus has refused to make the golf balls he describes above. They could easily be branded by naming them after his courses. The 75% Muirfield Village ball would be a staple of pro shops at places like Pine Valley, Merion and National and used by traditionalists who want to play the course as it was designed.

This is not hard. I just don't get it.

Tuesday
Nov292016

Architect Kidd Claims Media Seduced Him Into Excessive Design

The media has been blamed for many things, but I'm fairly certain architect David Kidd took things to another level in suggesting his much-derided, since-renovated Castle Course at St. Andrews was the fault of others. 

Kidd was challenged by "the media", starting with former Golfweek publisher Alex Miceli:

This would suggest he designed to play to a ranking. While many architects have surely been influenced in some way by ranking criteria, blaming it for an unsuccessful design seems out of line.

And this reply to Golf World's John Huggan:

It is an unfortunate state of affairs when resistance to scoring is a ranking criteria. And the golf ball quickly outdated some pretty stellar courses. But blaming such outside forces appears short-sighted and, at best, should at least spark discussion toward remedying both blights on the game.

Tuesday
Nov292016

"What is it that the rule makers of the U.S. Golf Association have against golfers, like me, of a certain age?"

Alfred L. Malabre Jr. is a retired WSJ editor playing golf in Charleston and not really caring much for the USGA's anchoring ban or its rules against posting solo rounds for handicap purposes.

Given that the Journal is the paper of record for Executive Committee members, this one no doubt caused internal calls for a rebuttal. The handicapping complaint was compelling.

For those of us who play most of our rounds alone, that means fewer rounds will count toward calculating a handicap, which very likely will mean a less accurate handicap. That’s no small thing on those rare days when I do compete against friends for a few dollars.

Writing of the joys of solo golf in The Wall Street Journal in 2013, I noted enthusiastically that a solitary golfer, using however many handicap strokes may be allowed, may compete quite happily “against the course” and “record an accurate score.” This score, in turn, may be submitted, I wrote, so as to maintain an accurate handicap.

But no more. Now I am instructed that I must bring along at least one “companion” to verify my score before submission. Would my 10-year-old granddaughter do if she knows the rules? If the purpose of this new ban is to keep me honest, why not let me simply post my score and then agree to a polygraph test at the 19th hole? Or better yet, why not just keep counting on the honesty of golfers?

Tuesday
Nov292016

Tiger's 2016 Return Roundup: And It's Only Tuesday!

Tiger loathes the golf press, or, what's left of it. Even though the scribblers weren't the ones who scripted the talk show jokes that made him a national joke for a short time, Tiger should ease up the disdain some day and realize he fueled some fantastic writing about the game.

His return has prompted some more stellar coverage, and it's only Tuesday of Hero World Challenge Week.

The GolfChannel.com team has tracked down the one-hit-wonders to Tiger the Rolling Stone. Their stories of playing with and beside the man in key moments of his career is definitely one to save.

Ron Kroichick tracks down Lee Trevino, fellow back sufferer, to discuss what Tiger has to do to protect his back.

“When you injure your back, your body is telling you that you can’t move that way,” Trevino said in a phone interview. “Tiger has to revamp his swing. If he comes back and keeps swinging the way he did, he’ll re-injure it. No question.”

Trevino, like the rest of us, really doesn’t know what to expect when Woods makes his first tournament start in more than 15 months Thursday in the Hero World Challenge. It’s natural to view his comeback with rampant skepticism, given his aborted return at last month’s Safeway Open in Napa — he withdrew on Monday of tournament week, three days after officially entering the field.

That made Woods look terrible.

In this week's SI Roundtable, which must be angling for a Dramamine sponsorship to help readers deal with a wobbly webpage, Mssrs. Shipnuck and Bamberger offered this:

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): I wouldn't say they're completely unimportant. If he posts numbers in the mid- to high-70s, that's just more emotional scar tissue. I'm as interested in his press conference as anything. Last year on this occasion was the most glum and fatalistic Tiger has ever sounded, publicly. I'm as curious about his head as his swing.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I agree, Alan. He has indicated in various ways over the past 18-plus months that this is a new chapter in his life. He's always setting the table for something, and now we learn more. Is his goal here to be Tiger Woods, Dude at Large, or Tiger Woods, golfer?

On the actual course where he returns, Woods played golf with live humans Monday, including former Yankee and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

Apparently the talk didn't sound much different than old men at The Villages discussing hemorrhoid remedies.

Brian Wacker reports for GolfDigest.com:

After the long range session on Sunday, Woods recovered in a hot tub and got other treatment on his surgically repaired left knee and battered back. He was also in the gym prior to his round on Monday.

“I was talking to Jetes about it and Tino. How long did it take them to get ready for each game?” Woods said. “And it took them from 3-to-4 hours as they got older. And it’s the same thing for me. I was in the gym with [Rose], and he’s in there doing the same thing. He’s 36 now, and it takes him an hour, hour and a half, just to be able to go and hit balls.

“You have to activate the muscles. . . . We miss the days going to the first tee and hitting a drive 300 yards with a balata ball and a persimmon driver. You can’t do that anymore.”

Bingo players, that's one activate, one uninspired nickname and one gym mention.

USA Today's Steve DiMeglio noted that Woods, if nothing else, is putting in a lot of work.

The quick nine – a day after Woods hit balls for more than two hours and before another long session on the range – was ideal for the winner of 79 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors as he got ready to play his first competitive round since August 2015, when he finished in a tie for 10th in the Wyndham Championship.

“I hit it good today,” said Woods, the former world No. 1 for a record 683 weeks who fell to No. 898 in the official world golf rankings on Monday.

He hit a lot, too. After taking 35-37 strokes to complete the back nine – he made two birdies and his best shot was his 360-yard drive at the downwind par-5 15th – he spent 90 minutes at the back of the range.

Monday
Nov282016

Vital Piece Of Golf Movie Memorabilia Available For $129,000

I know, you are hoping it's something from Tin Cup, but you'll just have to settle for weekly appearances on Golf Channel until it finds a permanent home on Turner Classic Movies. Or not.

No, it's Al Czervik's yacht from Caddyshack and it needs work. Maybe someone with a pricey yacht named Privacy would like it to have some company?

Nice spot Mark Townsend...

Monday
Nov282016

Rio Golf, Brinkmanship And The Future

To kick off Morning Drive's Design Week, we had to discuss the sad news out of Rio that not a thing has changed with the ownership, operational obstacles and overall state of affairs.

And I spoke with Gil Hanse to get the architect's side of things. Having seen just about everything imaginable there, he offered that he was bitterly disappointed but also said this for our Monday Golf World.

“We witnessed this type of brinksmanship during the construction of the course, and we are hopeful that this is another example of having to hit a low point before things get better.”

A friend emailed to say he debated the Rio golf course situation and came down on the side of letting it fail, with a quick return to the capybaras and many birds that have taken up residence. Given the poverty issues in Rio, the corruption of its government and the well-documented troubles of the past, I get that point of view.

In fact, I'd support walking away if the golf course and Brazillian Golf Federation had given things a shot and things just didn't pan out. But since we learned the course does not have signage, a website or any sign that an attempt is being made less than four months since golf made a magnificent return to the Olympic Games, it just doesn't feel right for the course to not have been given a chance to excite young players, test burgeoning ones or take the money of folks who want to test a brilliant design amidst a thriving natural environment.

Monday
Nov282016

Caught On Tape! Tiger's New/Old/2016 Swing

We've seen glimpses but the first slow-mo was captured to kick off a week when we'll see his swing 200 more times. And while it's embarrassing to be this nosy about a simple golf swing, Tiger Woods has been away over a year, has had three surgeries, is a 14-time major winner and is a mystery man.

Brian Wacker's Instagram of the swing has disappeared, with the clip no doubt having been detained for questioning by the PGA Tour Police

But since we know how social media works and they don't, the clip was grabbed and posted many places. Here is one:

Hank Haney offered this Twitter analysis:

Sunday
Nov272016

Tiger At The World Challenge: He's (Maybe!) Back

Tiger hasn't given many interviews--except for this big exclusive with the vaunted Broward County New Times to discuss his restaurant's update--but Steve DiMeglio talks to the 14-time major winner in advance of this week's Hero World Challenge and Tiger is "ready to go."

Woods, who was hitting balls at Albany Golf Club in advance of the Challenge, told DiMeglio he was "drained" from his duties as a Ryder Cup assistant captain and patted himself on the back for withdrawing from October's Safeway Open just three days after committing to play.

“I have way more shots now, because I’ve played way more golf. I only had a handful of shots back then,” said Woods, who played nine holes at Albany shortly after he arrived on Saturday. “And you just saw a session where I hit everything. And I had control of everything. I can hit all the shots now, on call.

“It was a smart decision in the end to pull out of the tournaments. The competitor inside me wanted to go so badly, I was itching to go, I had been playing at home, and I thought I could get it around. I had played feeling worse and won golf tournaments. But I finally decided why rush … I had waited more than a year, so let’s wait a little more and get it right.”

Bob Harig at ESPN.com also watched Tiger's first Bahama's practice session and offered this assessment:

Woods had no trouble carrying drives over 300 yards, shaping shots in both directions with his various clubs while showing no pangs of discomfort. Of course, it's Sunday, not the opening round on Thursday of an otherwise low-key, 18-player tournament that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. It's a year-ending cash grab for many stars of the game, and how they fare here is of little consequence. There are world ranking points at stake, and a $3.5 million purse with $1 million going to the winner.

Radaronline says Tiger will introduce a new woman by his side. She hopefully will be carrying less of his cash through the airport than she was in April.

Bookmaker.eu provides some of the fun exotic bets that are so sadly lacking at many of the betting houses these days.

A few of the eye-openers (prepare yourself for the cynicism):

Will Tiger Woods announce retirement from professional golf before January 1, 2018?

Yes +385
No -485

How many PGA Tour/European Tour events will Tiger Woods compete in during 2017 calendar year?

OVER 6.5 (+105)
UNDER 6.5 (-135)

Will Tiger Woods win a PGA Tour/European Tour event prior to January 1, 2018?

Yes +900
No -1900

Tiger Woods world golf ranking on January 1, 2018 (current WGR is No. 861)

OVER 861 (+130)
UNDER 861 (-160)

Will Tiger Woods withdraw during the 2016 Hero World Challenge?

Yes +230
No -320

Will Tigers Woods hit fairway on first round tee shot on Hole No. 1 of Hero World Challenge?

Yes -165
No +135

The facial hair is still here...Feherty inspired?