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Tiger Woods

Watch Tiger Woods recover from sloppy start with birdie on TPC Sawgrass' 4th hole (Updated)

Tiger Woods' start at the Players wasn't quite disastrous, but it wasn't encouraging, either. In his first round since the Masters, Woods missed his first two fairways badly, bogeyed his first hole, and missed a short birdie putt on the second.

Which is why Woods' birdie on the 4th hole was such a needed reprieve. After finding the fairway off the tee, Woods hit this shot to set up a short putt that brought him back to even par.


The good vibes for Woods continued on the 5th hole, when he hammered his tee shot into the fairway to set up an easy par.

Updated: Well, the good vibes lasted at least a little while. On his tee shot on the 237-yard par-3 8th, Woods hit a miserable tee shot that jutted right and traveled just 179 yards before landing in the water. He ended up making double bogey. Here's his reaction to the shot.

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Tiger Woods

Lindsey and Elin agree: Tiger's parenting skills are locked in

Well, if you want to be technical, Lindsey Vonn (Tiger Woods' current girlfriend) and Elin Nordegren (his ex-wife) varied slightly in their description of how the golfer is raising young Sam, 7, and Charlie, 6.

Nordegren told People magazine last year that Woods is a "great father," whereas Vonn recently stepped it up a notch and told People he was "amazing." 

“They’re great. They’re amazing kids, and he’s an amazing father,” Vonn, 34, said at the New York premiere of the movie "The Age of Adaline" Sunday evening. “You know, I feel privileged to be along for the ride, and I help as much as I can. They’re great kids -- I love ’em."

The public was given its best window into Woods' -- and Vonn's -- relationship with the golfer's kids at the Masters. Woods had Sam and Charlie caddie for him in the Par-3 Contest, and the four did seem quite content. 

Here's Tiger appearing to ask Sam for help with a putt.


Here's Lindsey snapping a quick shot of Sam with a GoPro.

 
And here's Lindsey telling Charlie that Tiger needs to be more upright at address when putting (or something like that).

h/t FTW

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Tiger Woods

This fax announcing Steve Williams as Tiger Woods' new caddie is dripping with nostalgia

Ah, the simple days of the late '90s: Fax machines, dial-up Internet, and Tiger Woods and Steve Williams ready to take on the world together.

Courtesy of the Associated Press' esteemed golf writer Doug Ferguson, check out this fax sent out by IMG in March 1999 announcing Woods had hired Williams as his caddie. 
Some highlights: 

 -- Woods euphemistically announcing that he and his first pro caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, will "part ways." "It is time to move on, and I feel confident we will remain friends," Woods said.

 -- Williams only took up with Woods after receiving a blessing from then-employer Raymond Floyd, who was 56 at the time. Could you imagine the level of resentment Williams would have had if Floyd said no and Williams then had to watch Tiger rattle off 13 majors without him? 

 -- Williams as Woods' caddie was broached initially by Woods' coach Butch Harmon. Harmon himself was gone from Woods' camp a few years later.

Of course nothing in golf lasts forever. Williams, too, was fired in 2011, which Woods announced on his website (prompting a response from Williams on his website). 

As far as we know, no fax machines were involved.

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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods says "a bone popped out" on shot on 9th hole, but he was able to "put it back in"

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Just when you thought Tiger Woods was finally healthy, he ran into more trouble on the 9th hole of the Masters on Sunday. The good news is it wasn't his back. Or his knee. Or the other knee. 

Instead it appeared to be Woods' wrist that he injured when hitting a tree root with his second shot (Update: it appears it was not a root, but a particularly hard part of the ground). Upon impact, Woods immediately let go of his club, and started shaking his right wrist. While clearly aggravated the rest of the hole, Woods was able to get up and down for par, but bogeyed the 10th after spraying the tee shot way right.

Another update: In his post-round interview with CBS' Bill Macatee, Woods said "a bone popped out" when he hit the shot on 9, but he was able "to put it back in." 


Although he's been spared wrist problems as a pro, Woods did withdraw from the 2005 U.S. Open at Shinnecock after injuring his left wrist hitting out of heavy rough. 

At the time of the injury, Woods, who is playing with Rory McIlroy, was one over for the day and 12 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth. His injury was met with swift reaction on social media.


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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods dropped an F-bomb on live TV, and it was quite awkward

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There is no more explosive player in golf than Tiger Woods, and no, we're not talking about his ball-striking.  

Instead, we're talking about Woods' propensity for the ill-timed F-bomb caught on live TV. There was one again on Woods' wild 13th hole Saturday, in which he snap-hooked a drive, punched out, and ended up making birdie. Mind you, Woods didn't know a birdie was in the cards when he first pulled his drive, which is what led to this NSFW reaction.

The profane reaction, as much a part of the Woods staple as the red shirt on Sunday, prompted separate apologies from Ian Baker-Finch on CBS, and Grant Boone on Amen Corner Live, who recognized Woods was “in the heat of the battle.” It was also met with all kinds of outrage on Twitter.



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Tiger Woods

Here's Tiger Woods' second round in 136 seconds

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The fact that Tiger Woods' second round at Augusta National ended right when ESPN's coverage was coming on Friday afternoon was rotten luck for golf fans. 

What did they miss? Well, here's a quick review:

We should clarify that other stuff happened. But this covers the broad strokes.

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Tiger Woods

What yips? Tiger Woods arrives at Augusta, puts short game to immediate test

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For a guy with the yips, Tiger Woods just announced to the world that he’s not afraid to show off his short game. Showing up at Augusta National’s tournament practice area around 3:40 ET, Woods briefly stopped to talk to Mike Weir about the Canadian’s elbow issues, them marched boldly to the short game practice area.


Knowing all eyes at the range were on his wedge practice and probably aware there was an audience on Golf Channel’s “Live From” hoping to see if he’s cured the short game yips, Woods took a green bag of balls from caddie Joe LaCava, put on headphones, appeared to dance to the music at one point and went straight to work hitting the same lofted wedges that have given him fits.

Talk about a bold statement.

While it’s hardly unusual for a professional golfer to warm up hitting wedges, any yipper can tell you that playing the shot that gives you trouble, and doing it in front of a crowd, ranks up there in the Fun Department with root canals and prostate exams.

More curious was his decision to listen to music while warming up. Was it the soothing voice of a guru? Or simply a nod to new endorsee Sol Republic, which Woods signed with in January.

After hitting no flubs and looking crisp with his shots, Woods moved to the main tee, where swing consultant Chris Como awkwardly waited while former instructor Sean Foley and Woods joked around. Eventually, Woods began moving through the bag and headed for the first tee for a late nine at Augusta National. 

If the range swagger was a statement, the body language on course all but spilled over the top. Woods blew his first tee shot into his usual spot on the 9th fairway, where Woods also gets his mail when he’s in Augusta. Anyway, Woods then hit his approach to six feet and he quickly knocked in a birdie as if it was a mere afterthought. He then took two wedges and two balls, and the crowd grew eerily quiet. But Woods moved around the diabolical first green hitting all manner of shots, showing no signs of distress.


A few in the gallery of 500 or so patrons gasped at his sleek physique, but otherwise welcomed him back with various shout-outs. Playing partner O’Meara eventually ran out of putts to try on a green he’s seen plenty, turning to watch the downright jovial Woods chip before moving to the putter. After a few long putts, Woods scooped up his ball with the back cavity of his putter and twirled it over his head, keeping the ball in the putter the entire time.

He stopped short of Moonwalking off the first green.

Almost like old times. 


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mental game

If Tiger Woods really has the yips, he might want to give this guy a call

A chorus of golfers and analysts led by Rocco Mediate and Paul Azinger claim they could fix Tiger Woods' golf game in a few minutes. That's probably a stretch, but Dr. Richard Crowley thinks a couple hours should do the trick -- and he can do it over the phone.

Crowley is the author of Mentalball: How to beat your invisible opponent at its own game and the San Francisco-based psychologist has worked with thousands of athletes. His specialty? Curing the yips. 

Related: What happened to Tiger Woods' short game?

Most notably, Crowley helped Major League Baseball players like Steve Sax, Shawn Green and Mark Wohlers get over the problems that plagued them during their careers. For Sax, it was being able to make a routine throw to first base. For Green, it was breaking out of an awful hitting slump. For Wohlers, it was finding the strike zone again after it appeared he was destined to follow the path of Steve Blass -- for whom the term "Steve Blass Disease" was coined -- and have a premature exit from the game.

Those fixes had nothing to do with mechanics, which aren't the issue for someone suffering the yips. Crowley doesn't need to know anything about a particular sport to help an athlete, which is why his patients include everyone from baseball players to golfers to skateboarders. For the record, though, Crowley has never worked with a golfer as prominent as Woods -- or any tour player for that matter. But as he says, their level or sport is irrelevant.

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"I never give any athlete advice," said Crowley, who posts many of his athlete's testimonials on his website, Sportsmaker.com. "All the advice aggravates the situation. Giving him advice is poison."

And no athlete gets more advice than Woods, who Crowley believes has never returned to his former greatness due to trauma he suffered during his 2009 scandal. But why are these pronounced short game problems just surfacing for the 14-time major winner?

David Owen wrote in a New Yorker story on the yips from last May, "No one understands for certain what causes any form of the yips, and no one yet has identified physical loci in the brain for focal dystonias." Crowley, though, is convinced the problem starts in the brain's right hemisphere.

"There's an extra thought in [the athlete's] head," Crowley said of Woods. "Every kid will call it 'weird.' 'The ball felt weird coming out of my hand.' That feeling comes from the unconscious and it comes from the middle of nowhere to a player. In a millisecond, they're disconnected."

That extra thought, Crowley says, can't be gotten rid of with a simple adjustment and can be triggered by a variety of things. But he believes finding the trigger isn't important and it isn't part of his solution. Instead, he treats athletes for these "invisible opponents" or "psychic viruses" by having them go through a series of mental exercises that shows them how to use their imaginations to fix themselves. This allows them to reconnect to the mindset that existed before the person encountered their problem. It sounds complicated, but Crowley claims to have a 95-percent success rate with athletes who spend five phone sessions with him.

Crowley acknowledged that the less an athlete has accomplished, the easier it is for them to believe it's not their fault and to buy into his method. He also says ego plays a large role since it's difficult to convince athletes they need a different kind of help.

"Most people will deny me and turn to a repeating pattern in which seeking instruction gives them false hope," Crowley said. "They think, 'I'll figure this thing out myself. I always have."

Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was one of those people. Despite Crowley's previous work with Sax, another troubled second baseman, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman reaching out to Crowley, Knoblauch never returned any of Crowley's messages. He also never fixed his problems on what is essentially the chip-shot throw of baseball. Knoblauch was eventually moved to the outfield -- where he could make the longer throw fine -- before being out of baseball at 32. 

The Grind: Tiger's short game woes and Freddie Jacobson meets Rihanna

The yips can be fixed, but any doctor would agree that first, they need to be acknowledged. That's something we haven't seen yet from Woods, who instead has blamed his short game woes on everything from a new "release pattern" under instructor Chris Como to rust to a new grind on his wedges.

Woods has been open to trying new things with his golf swing, but would he be open to doing drills that don't take place on a practice range? If so, Dr. Crowley is just a call away.

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Gear & Equipment

Never mind Tiger's new instructor. Here's what you need to know about the new equipment he'll be playing at Isleworth

It has been well chronicled that when Tiger Woods tees off Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, it will be his first competitive round with new swing instructor/consultant Chris Como. Less well known is that it will also be his first competitive round with most of the equipment he's expecting to have in his bag. 

Nothing is official until he steps on the first tee, but it's highly likely Woods will be using new woods, irons and a new golf ball from when he last played at the PGA Championship in August. The only clubs he isn't expected to change are his wedges and putter.

Below are some of the details on his new equipment, which Tiger offered substantial input with during the R&D process. "That to me is fun, testing product," Woods said during a Nike press event in August. "Especially when I'm playing well. I think that is the best time to test. ... You always want to test when you are playing great, because obviously you can see the differences." 

Clearly he's feeling confident about all of the new gear because there are a lot of changes to his bag. Company officials are touring this as "the first time in Nike history that he has put this much new equipment in play in one week." 

Ball: RZN Black.
This is a big change for Tiger. For the last five years, he's been playing a version of the One Tour D that had been specifically made for him. The core of the RZN is waffle-shaped and made out of a resin polymer that interlocks with the mantle layer. The One Tour D has a synthetic rubber core. Resin is lighter than rubber, which means Tiger is playing a ball that is structurally quite different than what he's been playing for half a decade. 

Driver: Vapor Speed prototype, Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93x shaft.
The drive has a 420 cubic-centimeter clubhead and has 10.5 degrees of loft, a big change from the 9.5-degree driver he was playing most recently. And there were times in the last couple years that he's played an 8.5-degree model. His driver is also glued in, which is different from the adjustable version that will be sold at retail. 

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(Photos of Tiger's driver: Nike)

Fairway Woods: Vapor Speed 3- and 5-wood
The biggest innovation in these clubs is stability. Two thin pieces of stainless steel run through the cavity -- called Fly Beams -- to add support and stiffness to the back cavity, something Tiger specifically looks for in his clubs. The compression channel in the fairway woods is similar to the one used in the VR series, but it's varied in width and depth.  

Irons: Vapor Pro
One of the biggest alterations made in the development of these irons from the previous ones Tiger had used was moving some of the weight toward the toe. This shift in the center of gravity came from studying the wear pattern on Tiger's clubs. The ball was hitting the middle of the clubface -- which sounds ideal -- but the majority of the clubhead's weight was in the heel. Nike R&D officials wanted to get more of the mass behind the ball (for Tiger and those of his ability level, that would be the center of the face). In early trials, they drilled holes in the toe of Tiger's blades and filled them with tungsten, a heavier metal. 

"We had this idea, if we moved the CG towards the center of the face that it would have more impact and more mass right behind the ball," Tiger explained on Nike's website. "And it worked. I was able to hit the ball a little bit further, it came off more solid, and the amazing thing is the ball flew better."

Nike moved on from the tungsten plugs, and calls its final iteration "Modern Muscle technology." The new geometry produces the same result as the plugs, without using tungsten.

The change in his clubs, coupled with the changes in Woods' swing, seems to be a part of a new Tiger -- or at least a different Tiger -- one that age and injury has forced him to become. 

"We all have to make adaptations as athletes, and we have to make adjustments," Woods said Tuesday. "And I'm no different. As I've explained to you guys many times, [it's] like when M.J. [Michael Jordan] created a fadeaway. He couldn't jump over everybody anymore, and he created a new way to score and get points. I'm the same way. I can't blow it out there with some of the longer guys anymore. ... But there's other ways to go around a golf course."

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News & Tours

Tiger Woods isn't 100 percent yet, but says he's getting closer

By Ryan Herrington

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HOYLAKE, England -- It's become almost cliche to hear Tiger Woods say how anything less than winning the title at a major championship would be a disappointment. Yet upon listening to him respond Tuesday during his British Open press conference, Woods' predictable answer carried a little more purpose.

"First," he said, when asked what an acceptable finish would be this week at Royal Liverpool. "That's always the case."

It would seem, then, Woods is back to competitive form mentally as he prepares to play his first major championship in nearly 11 months.

The trickier question is how close is he physically.

Woods hinted he's still not quite 100 percent following his March 31 back surgery, but that he's making progress. "Each and every week I've gotten stronger and faster," Woods said. "I'm probably not quite at the level I think can be at as far as my explosion through the golf ball, but I'm coming pretty darn close."

In his lone start since the surgery, last month's Quicken Loans National, Woods shot 74 and 75 and missed the cut. The result left many concluding that Woods' actions aren't ready to back up his words regarding his personal expectations for Hoylake.

Woods, however, insists he only took good things away from playing at Congressional. "The fact I was able to go at it that hard and hit it like that with no pain was big," Woods said. "I could play out of the rough. I could hit shots. … And I was able to recover each and every day."

Since then, Woods says he's had no setback.

As he continued to work his way back into game shape, Woods acknowledged that adjusting his game to playing links golf has been an additional challenge. It's why he arrived a day earlier than he ordinarily does for the Open. Getting in practice rounds on Saturday and Sunday at Royal Liverpool allowed him the luxury of merely practicing Monday before making a third trip around the course Tuesday.

Discounting the historic import of Woods continuing his quest to match Jack Nicklaus' 18 major championship, Woods has some short-term hurdles he needs to clear that would be helped greatly with a high finish this week. Woods is 212th on the FedEx Cup points list with just six weeks left to try to get into the top 125 and qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

And then there's qualifying for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Woods is currently 72nd on that points list, sitting humbly between Jim Renner and Bryce Molder.

Both goals are on his mind, but neither he says provide him any more incentive to do well this week.

Woods is playing a major. That's all the motivation he needs.

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