Tiger Woods announced on Wednesday that he “unequivocally” wants to play professionally again following his most recent back surgery at the end of April. Woods underwent fusion surgery which has apparently finally alleviated all the pain that he was in. It was Woods’ fourth major operation on his back in the last 6 years. Coupled with surgeries that the former World #1 has had to his neck, left tibia, left knee (5), left elbow and left Achilles (3), Woods is making Steve Austin look positively pedestrian. It is still unlikely that we will see Woods back competitively in 2017 though. He will not be able to even twist for another three months, with actually playing a much more distant hope.
The PGA Tour was at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas for the 70th edition of the Dean and Deluca Invitational. Colonial is nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley” because of its history with favorite Texas son, Ben Hogan, a 5-time winner of the tournament. Defending Champion, Jordan Spieth was in danger of missing his third consecutive cut (something he has never done) before rallying late in Friday’s second round to shoot a 2-under par 68. Spieth charged into contention on Sunday though with a final round 5-under 65 earning him a share of 2nd place with Jon Rahm and Sean O’Hair. They were one stroke behind winner, 33-year old American Kevin Kisner who played some clutch golf down the stretch to claim his second PGA Tour win.
Former Rolex World #1, Ai Miyazato will be announcing her retirement in a news conference tomorrow. The announcement on one hand will be kind of a shock and on the other make perfect sense. Miyazato has only had one Top 10 finish in her last 77 starts on the LPGA Tour and her once supreme putting stroke has deserted her. The 31-year old Japanese superstar was at one time so popular in Japan that she had to wear disguises when going out in public to avoid being mobbed by adoring fans. Miyazato was the top ranked player in the word for a 12 week stretch in 2010 and won 9 LPGA Tour events.
Two very different versions of the Rules. The first one involves 4-time Major Champion, Ernie Els. Playing in the first round of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in England, Els’s second shot to the par-5 12th hole landed in the dense cabbage near the green. If a player thinks that his ball may have plugged (buried in a wet or muddy area) he is, under the Rules of Golf, allowed to mark his ball to see if it is indeed buried. After alerting his playing partners, Els did exactly that and then replaced his ball. Els then chipped in for an eagle-3. The South African great was not at ease however because he felt that the ball had come out of the lie far too well (meaning that he had inadvertently not replaced it exactly as it was). After conferring with a rules official, Els gave himself a 2-shot penalty for playing a ball from the wrong spot and turned his 3-under 69 into a 1-under 71.
Also in the first round at the BMW, fellow-South African Branden Grace hit his approach shot into a buried lie in the greenside bunker on the 13th hole. Grace then vigorously dug his feet (it looked extremely exaggerated) claiming that when he did so his foot touched the plastic lining of the bunker which should entitle him to a free drop. After making his case to European Tour rules official Mark Hill, Hill agreed and Grace was allowed to take a free drop. It did not sit well with a great many of his fellow professionals including former Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley who bluntly said: “It was ridiculous. If you twist your feet enough, you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.” Right.
At the LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a star studded field flooded the leaderboard. Ultimately Chinese star, Shanshan Feng was a one-shot winner over up and coming Australian star, Minjee Lee and South Korea’s Sung-hyun Park. Starting the day with the lead, Feng closed with a 4-under par 68 to finish the week at 19-under par and claim her 7th LPGA title. Feng who never watches the leaderboard during tournaments will see her world ranking improve one place to #3.
Wentworth Golf Club, the host venue for the European Tour’s marquee event, the BMW PGA Championship has always been a polarizing choice for players. It draws a large contingent of European players who play on the PGA Tour who support the event but is either a course that a player loves or that they don’t like at all. Sweden’s Alex Noren overcame a 7 shot deficit while shooting a course record 10-under par, 62 to win by two shots over Italian Francesco Molinari. Noren has been an a torrid run since his win last July in the Scottish Open, winning 5 events in those 10 months. The 34-year old will now move up to #8 in the world rankings with this, the most important of his 9 career wins on the European Tour.
The PGA Tour Champions Tour’s second Major Championship of the year, the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club became a two-man battle between Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer. Singh was looking to win his first Major on the over-50 circuit while the ageless 59-year old Langer was trying to make history and win a record 9th Major title on the Champions Tour. Langer edged the Big Fijian by one with a 4-day total of 18-under to capture his second Major of the season after having dominated at last week’s Regions Tradition Championship (he was 20-under par for those 4 days). For golf’s version of Methuselah, this was win #32 on the Champions Tour which is 2nd most of all time.
And finally and most importantly, we would thank and salute all the men and women of the Armed forces for their service, dedication and sacrifice as we celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow.
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