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.
The marginalia of US Open lore is scrawled thick with surprise first-round leaders who burst from obscurity only to vanish as quickly as they appeared. The roll of names reads like the answer key to a pub quiz – Lee Mackey Jr, Bob Gadja, Mike Nicolette, Olin Browne, Justin Hicks – improbable opening-round leaders all, each of whom plummeted back into relative anonymity.
Colin Montgomerie, who was part of the successful bid to restore golf to the Olympics, has questioned those opting not to appear at this year’s Games in Rio.
No sooner had Davis Love III issued his strongest Ryder Cup war cry yet than Lee Westwood endorsed his status as Europe’s agent provocateur. If the event matches the preamble, there may be a need to stand back from the Hazeltine fireworks.
The closing in of Dustin Johnson on the summit of golf’s world ranking may be the least of Jason Day’s worries.
Rory McIlroy insisted the European team mood is “buoyant” after an afternoon Ryder Cup recovery took Darren Clarke’s men from a morning deficit of 4-0 to 5-3 by close of play on day one at Hazeltine. McIlroy, who celebrated in emphatic style after converting an eagle putt on the 16th green to seal a third point for Europe, admitted to being inspired in part by a “hostile” home crowd.
Europe’s tormentor in chief may well be afforded special salvation from the same continent. Patrick Reed’s leading role in the USA’s Ryder Cup success at Hazeltine has apparently enhanced the desire of Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, to keep the 26-year-old as part of his business equation.
Crisis, what crisis? Rory McIlroy has criticised what he regards as the negative perception of his 2016 to date. McIlroy has not won this year despite a consistent run of six top-10 finishes in nine strokeplay events. At the WGC Match Play Championship he was defeated in the semi-final.
Matt Kuchar moved into a tie for the lead after the second round of the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Friday after posting a second successive round of 66. He stands in first place at 12-under par with his fellow American Brendan Steele, who has only one US tour win in his career - in 2011.
Perhaps the golfing gods will smile upon the honest man.
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.