BOB WEST ON GOLF — Tiger’s plantar fasciitis pain for golf, devoted followers
Published 12:07 am Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Professional golf’s “Silly Season” was dealt a significant blow Monday when Tiger Woods announced he would not be able to participate in the Hero World Challenge he hosts this week in Nassau. The Hero was to have been Tiger’s latest comeback attempt after his most recent tournament appearance 140 days ago in the British Open.
As always, there had been high hope and anticipation that Woods would show the kind of form signaling his game and health were at a point where he could be seen as a Masters threat in April. But the announcement he couldn’t play due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot was a terrible disappointment to his legion of fans.
Though Tiger indicated he still intends to play alongside Rory McIlroy against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in “The Match” on Dec. 10 and a week later with son Charlie in the PNC Father-Son Championship, there is now a sense of foreboding. Tempering the pessimism is the fact that Tiger will be able to ride in both those events.
Either way, for those who love to watch golf on TV there is much to follow in December, The Hero World Challenge is almost like a mini major minus the heavy-duty pressure. It is followed by the QBE Shootout, which features 12 teams, including LPGA stars Nelly Korda and Lexi Thomson, competing in three formats over 54 holes.
The QBE is sandwiched around “The Match”, which this year offers night golf, a 12-hole format and Charles Barkley delivering his usual off-the-wall comments about a game in which he’s best described as a traveling lateral hazard. Finally, on Dec. 17-18, there is the highly anticipated PNC Father-Son Challenge in Orlando.
At that event last year then 12-year-old Charlie Woods had a coming-out-party of sorts, playing so well that he and a limited Tiger battled John Daly and his son to the end. Ultimately, the Dalys, sparked by John Daly II, who is redshirting for former Lamar coach Brad McMakin at Arkansas this year, won by two. Thus, great anticipation for this year.
All in all, then, there’s plenty of golf and millions of dollars to be raised for charity before Santa tees it up for his Christmas tour.
The Hero World Challenge features Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, among 16 of the world’s top 20 in the 20-man field. Tiger will be there, no doubt limping, surely providing insight into the unfortunate setback with his foot and perhaps taking a subtle shot or two at LIV golf.
In case you are wondering why Woods didn’t play with the assistance of a golf cart, he could have. But, in Tuesday’s press conference, Tiger made it clear he will never do that in a PGA sanctioned event. The path for doing that was cleared several years ago in a lawsuit by his former Stanford teammate Casey Martin.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the results of the PGA Tour’s latest Player Impact Program have revealed Tiger as once again finishing No. 1. Surprise! Surprise! His financial reward nearly doubled from $8 million a year ago to $15 million. McIlroy, as the runner-up, will collect $12 million.
For those not familiar with the PIP, the PGA Tour set it up as a bribe of sorts to keep top players from being too tempted by LIV’s blood-money bonuses. Points were awarded in a handful of season-long categories tied to media exposure, social media and fan awareness.
Woods, though he only competed in three tournaments, was a no-brainer winner because of his massive following and for his role as sort of a de facto spokesman against LIV. As many have noted, the $15 million was a small price for the PGA to pay for how Woods’ dominance and continuing presence boost the game.
This year’s total PIP payout was $100 million. Spieth, as No. 3, is due to collect $9 million, players 7 through 10 are to pocket $5 million each and those ranking 16-to-20 are in line for $2 million each. Not bad for showing up, making birdies and projecting a positive vibe.
CHIP SHOTS: Weather, mainly wet conditions, again limited the daily competitions at Babe Zaharias.
In the Monday Senior 50 Plus Game, played in a par 4 format, the team of Ron LaSalle, Joe Gongora, Rufus Reyes and Gary Anderson won the front with minus 13. There was a three-way tie on the back at minus 10 between teams captained by Keith Mullins, Glenn Judice and Bob West.
Closest to the pin winners were Rusty Hicks (No. 2, 9 feet, 1 inch), Gongora (No. 7, 7-4 and No. 15, 9-8) and Dan Flood (No. 12, 8-4) . . .
Last Wednesday’s Zaharias DogFight was played in a par 4 format with all points counting. Placing first with 46 points was the team of LaSalle, Don MacNeil, Reyes and Glen Knight. Second with 43 points was the foursome of James Vercher, Gongora, Romero and Jeff Rinehart.
Closest to the pin winners were LaSalle (No. 2, 9-5), Gongora (No. 7, 13-5), Tommy Bellow (No. 12, 14-6) and No. 15, 3-7).
Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest at usa.net.