Tiger Woods, beset by injuries and the decline of his playing career, appears to have at least one person who still believes in him. And that person is Tiger Woods. In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS on Thursday night, the former world No1 said he is targeting an imminent return to golf as well as more victories in the majors.
Tiger Woods’s career outlook has taken its latest bleak turn with confirmation that he will not, as announced, return to competitive action at this week’s Safeway Open in California. Woods has also pulled out of November’s Turkish Airlines Open, citing the “vulnerable” state of his game.
Tiger Woods kept a low profile in his role as a vice-captain as the USA took a comprehensive win in the Ryder Cup after a hard-fought match and some quite brilliant golf but he will be unable to escape the spotlight when he returns to the course as a player on Thursday.
Even when broken, don’t fix it.
The topic which dominated post-Ryder Cup media duties for the European team had nothing to do with the concession of the trophy for the first time since 2008. Rather, the level of hostility those visitors to Hazeltine encountered from a frenzied home crowd created a narrative which will flow into 2018 and Paris. The reserved French may tone matters down.
Danny Willett has said his brother Peter’s pre-Ryder Cup criticism of American supporters was backed up by the behaviour of some supporters at Hazeltine.
When Thomas Pieters struck his first tee shot at 11.26am local time, the 24‑year‑old became the first European rookie to play in all five sessions since Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Paul Lawrie and Sergio García at the Battle of Brookline in 1999.
Had the United States not been harshly subjected to an earlier, harrowing run which led to public denouncement of captains and the formation of a task force, they might ponder how straightforward this all was. The Ryder Cup that had everything produced a result of wider benefit with Hazeltine the venue for the reinvigoration of the US in context of this event.
Despite forming part of a beaten European team and in a sentiment that will be widely shared, Rory McIlroy has suggested a Ryder Cup win for the USA at Hazeltine was a positive outcome for the future of the event.
The spectators tightly packed in the temporary grandstands along the 1st hole had been there for hours by the time Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed walked to the opening tee for the top singles match at 11.04am local time on Sunday, waving American flags that volunteers had distributed from brown cardboard boxes, sucking down Budweiser tallboys and gyrating to the Guns N’ Roses and John Cougar Mellancamp and Tom Petty that blared at ear-splitting volumes from the loudspeakers overhead as the sun climbed slowly over Lake Hazeltine.
Whatever degree of momentum the Americans had enjoyed after Friday morning’s dramatic foursomes sweep had long been exhausted when Lee Westwood and Danny Willett teed off Saturday’s fourball match against JB Holmes and Ryan Moore beneath a cloudless sky and baking Minnesota sun.
Golf is expected to retain its Olympic status despite the negative publicity that preceded its return to the Games for the first time in 112 years.
Regardless of whether or not Rory McIlroy defies general opinion – as, to be fair, he has made something of a habit – to appear at the Open, the story of this year’s tournament at St Andrews has already been altered.
If reaching No1 in the world represents an impressive enough achievement, the immediate endorsement of that status by way of victory in a high-profile event should afford an extra layer of adulation. In Jason Day’s case it most certainly will.
This Masters already serves as Rory McIlroy’s odd one out. For the first time since 2012, the Northern Irishman will arrive at Augusta National without an all-consuming narrative as baggage.
Billy Horschel was in no doubt.
Jason Day bucked the trend on Friday afternoon, completing his round in 70 to be the only man in the second half of the draw to finish with an under-par total.
Albeit the success of 2015 may influence his thinking, Jordan Spieth will place team success over that of an individual variety during the next fortnight. When asked which he would cherish more, a FedEx or Ryder Cup, Spieth’s desire to be part of a winning USA contingent at Hazeltine was abundantly clear for merely the latest time.
Eighteen months ago in the clubhouse at Bay Hill, venue for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the adopted winter home of this golfing icon, Rory McIlroy was approached. “Rory; if you need anything this week, you just let me know.”
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Matthew Fitzpatrick’s career choices were questioned. How the 22-year-old from Sheffield, who has now returned three European Tour wins inside only 13 months, has enjoyed the last laugh.
The European Tour can perhaps lay claim to sport’s most perfect system. With the order of merit title to be decided over four days at the Earth Course in Dubai, the tournament features the three protagonists who have defined European golf’s year.
Rory McIlroy seems to abide by the adage of the best lesson in life being that it is never too late to learn. As he reflected on a season that will end on Sunday, he admitted being “too proud” and “too stubborn” has been costly.