Tiger Woods announced on his website on Friday night that he would not be playing in The Masters next week because he is still recovering from his back surgery. This really comes as no surprise, since Woods had his second back surgery 7 months ago and waiting until he is 100% healthy again seems logical for the 14-time Major Champion. The other consideration must be that at 40 years of age, Woods’ has limited time left to claim the 4 Majors he so desperately wants to tie Jack Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18, so if he re-injured himself it could be the final straw that broke the proverbial back. There is speculation that Woods may not play at all in 2016 and not appear again in a tournament until next year.
PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, announced earlier last week that he will be stepping down as Commissioner at the end of 2016. “For every organization there is a time,” said the 68 year old Finchem, who took over the reins of the Tour in 1994 from Deane Beaman. Under Finchem’s stewardship the purses on the Tour have gone from a total of $56 million in 1994 to over $300 million in 2016. Jay Monahan, who has worked for the Tour for the last 8 years and was named deputy commissioner in 2014, is expected to become only the fourth Commissioner in the history of the Tour.
It was a welcome return to form at the first Major Championship of the year, the AMA Inspiration, for 20-year old Charley Hull from England. Hull began overhauling her swing at the beginning of 2015 with new coach, Matt Blesham. Essentially, Hull’s old swing was too vertical and she had a tendency to come too far forward onto her toes which sometimes resulted in wild misses to the right. Hull has done a great job becoming more balanced on her feet and more rounded with her swing, and now she is starting to see the results of her hard work pay off. Ultimately, Hull would fall one short of winning after a final round 69, but her second place finish would reinforce all that she has been doing in the last 15 months.
This is a hard game. Morgan Hoffman was playing really well at the Shell Houston Open and was only a couple of shots out of the lead midway through his second round. Standing on the 13th tee, Hoffman was 7-under par for the tournament before imploding and playing the next 5 holes in a disastrous 8-over par, missing the cut.
Quite a foursome. At The Courses at Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday, President Obama was joined by Green Bay quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, astronaut Mark Kelly and ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser. Kornheiser has been a regular member of the President’s group while this was the first time playing with the President for Rodgers. President Obama is an avid golfer and Saturday’s round was his 280th round of golf as President.
Jim Herman is the very definition of a late bloomer. The 38-year old is only in his fourth year on the PGA Tour and entering this week’s Shell Houston Open was ranked 191st in the world. Herman went to the now defunct Q-school 7 times without ever getting his Tour card, but still persevered eventually getting his status by qualifying through the web.com Tour after the 2012 season. Herman began Sunday’s final round tied for the lead with Jamie Lovemark but there were a host of the game’s biggest stars within striking distance who included Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. Displaying a game and mettle of one of the world’s best players, Herman played a superb final round of 4-under par, 68, to win by a shot over Stenson in one of the most improbable victories in recent years.
Great to see our old friend Jerry Smith playing so well on the PGA Tour Champions at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. Jerry went into Sunday’s final round in second place two strokes behind Scott Dunlap. Jerry won the Encompass Championship last year in his rookie campaign on the Champions circuit and would finish 28th on the 2015 money list. A closing 2-under par, 70, left Jerry in a tie for 3rd behind “The World’s Most Interesting Golfer”, Miguel Angel Jimenez. This is Jimenez’s third Champions victory in what has been a very limited schedule on the senior circuit (he prefers to play the regular and European Tours).
Despite the fact that David Clark was on the bag with Adam Scott for his recent back-to-back wins, he will not be caddying for Scott at The masters. Steve Williams will be looping for Scott next week and in the season’s other three Majors, in an unusual agreement in which Scott will employ both loopers throughout the year. Williams retired in 2015 but has agreed to stay on with Scott for the Majors hoping that they can recreate the magic of 2013 when Scott broke through for his first Major and Williams recorded his 14th as a looper (he caddied for Tiger Woods in 13 of his 14 Major wins).
18-year old Lydia Ko is more than the #1 ranked LPGA player in the world; she is a phenomenon without equal. Last week she won her 12th LPGA Tour event, and this week she won her second consecutive Major Championship (she won the 2015 Evian Championship). Amazing.
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