Just 3 short days after confirming that he would be playing at this week’s Safeway Open, Tiger Woods pulled the ole’ mongolian reversal and withdrew from the tournament on Monday afternoon. Tiger cited that his game was “vulnerable” and not ready for competitive golf and the PGA Tour. His statement left nothing but uncertainty of a return date, setting up weeks or possibly months of speculation from the golf world. Awesome.
Diving a little deeper into what Tiger said, it’s clear that he has no clue when he will be able to compete at an acceptable level. Tiger’s problem is mental. He’s struggling with both driver and chipping yips, the latter being so bad that he can’t play on the PGA Tour.
Despite his withdrawal from the Safeway Open, Woods had commitments to hold, one of which was a clinic at Pebble Beach for his foundation. There, Tiger hit some balls for fans, and there is video of his swing. Overall, it looks good and much improved from the last time we saw it at Bluejack National’s opening. I really liked how his head stayed relatively level throughout the swing, a nice change from his work with Sean Foley, who could be to blame for his latest back problems.
This article took a turn from uplifting to depressing after Monday’s news. With no telling if Tiger will ever come back to professional golf after his latest setback, I took a look at how I will remember Tiger Woods’ career.
After a 1-week off-season, the PGA Tour is back for the start of the 2016-2017 season at the Safeway Open (formerly Frys.com Open). While the Safeway will no longer be headlined by Tiger Woods’ return to golf, there are plenty of other things to watch (or not watch, like Phil Mickelson, who opted for a trip to Napa instead). The biggest storyline will be all the new faces on the PGA Tour looking to make a name for themselves early and often during the Fall Series events.
In 2015, one of those then-new faces stole the show, with rising star Emiliano Grillo winning his first event as a PGA Tour member in a playoff over Kevin Na. Grillo was able to make a 10-foot birdie putt on the 2nd playoff hole to keep PGA Tour veteran Kevin Na out of the winner’s circle. The win was huge for Grillo as it catapulted him up the world rankings and earned him entries into the major championship and WGC events where he shined.
New sponsor, same course
While the tournament picked up a new sponsor and name, it will still be hosted at the Silverado Resort. The course (originally designed by Robert T. Jones before everyone’s favorite golf commentator, Johnny Miller, came in to give it a refresh in 2010) touts a 7,200-yard, par-72 layout.
Inside the ropes
A new fried egg segment for the 2016-2017 season, we will be getting the lowdown on every course and setup from the best source there is, a PGA Tour caddie. Our inside man is going to stay anonymous throughout the season and give you his scoop each and every week. Here’s what to expect at the Safeway Open.
“It’s a very well-designed course that puts a premium on accuracy off the tee. On several of the holes, you only want to hit it 285-290 yards, so it will take the driver out of the hands of some of the longer players. The accuracy off the tee is important to set up up approach shots. Players have to have the correct angle into the green in order to get the ball close because of bunkers and trees that can obstruct shots. With the rough being short, the premium is less on the fairway and more on being on the correct side of the hole.”
Paulie enjoyed a very short vacation during the PGA Tour’s off-season, but he is back and has some new names to consider at this week’s Safeway Open, see who he likes here.
The Hero Challenge
Through the European Tour’s continued efforts to find new alternative golf formats, this week’s British Masters was kicked off with the first-ever Hero Challenge, an innovative format that pitted 8 tour pros against each other in a single elimination bracket. The players then played 1-hole knockout matches until a winner was crowned. In the end, France’s Alex Levy knocked off Alex Noren to win the inaugural event.
Many doubted the European Tour’s plan, but the feedback from fans and players was resoundingly positive, so look for more of these types of exhibitions in the future.
The real tournament
As the season-long Race to Dubai begins to wind down, the European Tour heads to the British Masters, where players will jostle for position in the standings to ensure their place in the season-ending Race to Dubai. Headlining the field in Great Britain are tournament host and former world number 1 Luke Donald along with a couple of England’s brightest young stars, last week’s winner Tyrrell Hatton and Ryder Cup member Matthew Fitzpatrick.
The best keeps getting better
For golf course nerds, Tuesday turned into Christmas with America’s best golf resort, Bandon Dunes, announcing the addition of a 5th course called Sheep Ranch. Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella broke the story, and it looks like Olympic Course designer Gil Hanse is the front-runner for the “Sheep Ranch Project”. The site is just a few miles north of the main resort, and word from Hanse’s camp is that “the Sheep Ranch is the best site we've ever seen for a new golf course." The project timeline is still unknown, but it sounds like Bandon Dunes will add another American classic in the next 3 years.
A new way to play. Cobra’s single length DeChambeau irons set to hit the shelves.
To no one’s surprise, Dustin Johnson is named Player of the Year.
The AK Legend
Never forget the legend of Anthony Kim and commemorate him with the “Legends Never Die” t-shirt from NLU. Along with AK, only a few Imperial hats and Holderness & Bourne polos remain.