Saturday, December 9

Tiger Woods Jumps 531 Spots in Official World Golf Ranking

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BY NEARLY EVERY MEASURE, TIGER WOODS had a successful initial return from his fourth back surgery and long layoff from tournament golf. Tiger's play at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas surprised virtually everyone, probably even himself.

The unofficial event with an 18-man field also provided world-ranking points. Woods benefited in a big way, as MORNING READ reported:
Tiger Woods climbed [531 spots] in Monday’s updated Official World Golf Ranking after he tied for ninth in the Hero World Challenge. The unofficial PGA Tour event, which awarded OWGR points, marked the first competition for Woods since he withdrew after one round from a European Tour event in Dubai in early February and then underwent spinal fusion surgery in April. He had fallen to No. 1,199 entering last week’s event and now stands at No. 668. Woods was No. 1 as recently as May 2014, after his five-victory season in 2013. He holds the record for most weeks at No. 1 in the 31-year history of the OWGR, with 683.
 Tiger turns 42 on December 30. What will 2018 bring?

Thursday, December 7

Golf on TV: QBE Shark Shootout and Joburg Open

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From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Twelve two-person teams will convene in South Florida at the QBE Shark Shootout, airing Friday to Sunday on Golf Channel and NBC. The duo of Harris English and Matt Kuchar (defending champions) will look to win the event for the third time in the past five years. The European Tour is in South Africa for the Joburg Open, where Louis Oosthuizen headlines the field in his home country, as the tournament serves as the second event in the 2018 Open Qualifying Series.

QBE Shark Shootout
Dates: Dec. 8-10
Venue: Tiburon Golf Club (Gold Course), Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Friday              1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2 p.m. (Live) / 5-8 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern)
Sunday            2-4 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Event format: The field is made up of 12 two-person teams. The competition includes a scramble format (Friday), modified alternate shot (Saturday) and better ball (Sunday).
English/Kuchar defend: Harris English and Matt Kuchar finished one stroke ahead of Jerry Kelly/Steve Stricker to win the event for the second time in four years as a duo.
Teams: Harris English/Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman/Zach Johnson, Tony Finau/Lexi Thompson, Jason Dufner/Billy Horschel, Russell Henley/Kyle Stanley, Keegan Bradley/Brendan Steele, Brandt Snedeker/Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell/Kevin Kisner, Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Brian Harman/Pat Perez, Sean O’Hair/Steve Stricker, Shane Lowry/Graeme McDowell.


Joburg Open
Dates: Dec. 7-10
Venue: Randpark Golf Club (Firethorn & Bushwillow Courses), Johannesburg, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3:30-5:30 & 7-9 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Saturday          9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-9 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Channel Digital)
Sunday            4:30-9 a.m. (Live) / 2-4 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast notes:
Fichardt defends: Darren Fichardt finished one shot ahead of Paul Waring and Stuart Manley to claim his fifth European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Fichardt, Dylan Frittelli, George Coetzee, Thomas Aiken, Sam Horsfield, Alfie Plant, Haydn Porteous and Dean Burmester.

GOLF CHANNEL VIDEO: 'Keep Omelette in Your Pan to Improve Backswing'

THIS TIP COMES FROM MICHAEL BREED, host of The Golf Fix on Golf Channel.

Has TV golf instruction jumped the shark?

Tuesday, December 5

VIDEO: Reborn Through Golf: The Inspiring Story of Young Lester Bell Jr.

DOING RESEARCH ON VARIOUS GOLF TOPICS, I ran across the story of Lester Bell Jr. (above). The video is dated, from 2013, but the story is ongoing. (I found the below clip from 2016.)

Golf as a game, and the people in golf, can inspire and transform lives. This is one of those stories. And it takes place at historic Cedar Crest in Dallas, Texas, which hosted the 1927 PGA Championship won by Walter Hagen.

Maybe you have eight minutes to enjoy this true story of a desperate kid who is saved by a game played right across the street from his dilapidated apartment.

#ThxPGAPro - Ira McGraw Jr./Lester Bell Jr. from PGA of America on Vimeo.

Friday, December 1

Hoffman Leads Hero, Tiger Within Striking Distance

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CHARLEY HOFFMAN LEADS THE HERO World Challenge at the halfway point after a 63 on Friday that gave him a 12-under total and 3-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and first-round leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Tiger Woods is the story, though. His solid play that produced a 69 and 68 put him in contention at 7 under and in a fifth-place tie. Everyone is impressed by Tiger's form at this early juncture as he continues to play without back pain.

"I proved that the surgery was successful, the rehab has been fantastic," Woods told Golf Channel. "Now I have a chance to go out there and play competitive golf again.

"I'm just getting back so I have a long way to go. That is going to take time. A lot more practice, a lot more training and more tournaments."

Hoffman's second round included 12 birdies.

"I got the ball to the hole and the balls were going in, which was nice," he said. "On 17, I was able to make a bunker shot which capped off the day… If I keep making putts I am usually in contention on Sunday. So putter feels great, the game is in a pretty good spot."

Hoffman added, "It is pretty special to be out here and to see Tiger making birdies and eagles and hopefully in contention on Sunday."

Wednesday, November 29

Golf on TV: Hero World Challenge, Australian PGA Championship, AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf this week at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where he’ll make his first professional start since withdrawing from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February. Eight of the top-10 players in the world are among the elite 18-man field, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman headline the field at the Australian PGA Championship, airing Wednesday-Saturday on Golf Channel, live and in primetime. Louis Oosthuizen and Darren Clarke lead the field at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritiues Open in an event co-sanctioned by the European and Sunshine Tours.

Hero World Challenge
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: Albany Resort, Albany, Bahamas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         12:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              12:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live) / 5-10 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern)
Saturday          2:30-5 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            1-4 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Matsuyama defends: Hideki Matsuyama finished two shots ahead of Henrik Stenson to win last year’s event.
Headlining the field: Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren and Francesco Molinari.


Australian PGA Championship
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: RACV Royal Pines Resort (Championship Course), Gold Coast, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Thursday         9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live)
Friday              9:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday          9:30 p.m.- 1 a.m.

Broadcast notes:
Varner defends: Harold Varner III won by two shots over Andrew Dodt to claim his first European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Harold Varner III, Cameron Smith, Curtis Luck, Jonas Blixt, Brett Rumford, Mike Weir and Matt Jones.


AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Venue: Heritage Golf Club, Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1:30-3:30 a.m. / 5:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              1:30-3:30 a.m. / 5:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          3:30-7:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            3:30-7:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
Headlining the field: Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jamie Donaldson, George Coetzee, Scott Hend, Sam Horsfield, Gregory Havret and Darren Fichhardt.

New York Times: 'Tiger Woods and the Art of the Optimistic Comeback'

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OPTIMISM IS IN THE AIR and on the golf course. It's reportedly pain-free and long off the tee.

Tiger Woods, as you may have heard, is set for another comeback. Tiger will tee off with Justin Thomas at 12:05 p.m. on Thursday in the Hero World Challenge. It will be his first event since February when he withdrew after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

But this time, this comeback, will be different. That's the hope, at least.

As Victor Mather writes today in the New York Timesthis comeback trail is a well-worn path for the era's greatest golfer:
While winning 14 majors over 11 years, Tiger Woods seldom had a layoff. But a series of injuries and personal setbacks have made his last decade a lot rockier. 
After a 10-month wait, Woods begins his latest return on Thursday in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He's optimistic. But it's not his first optimistic comeback of recent times...
Mather lays out all seven comebacks in capsule form (the comeback, why, what Tiger said, result). And, well, it's sobering.

But this time will be different, right?

Tiger Comebacks
2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play
2010 Masters
2011 WGC Bridgestone Invitational
2014 Quicken Loans National
2014 Hero World Challenge
2016 Hero World Challenge
2017 Hero World Challenge

Wednesday, November 22

Golf on TV: Australian Open and UBS Hong Kong Open

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – World No. 2 Jordan Spieth will defend his 2016 title this week at the Australian Open. He’ll be joined in the field by the top-ranked Australian in the world, Jason Day. The Australian Open also is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series, where three players will earn invitations to the 147th Open at Carnoustie. The European Tour will kick off its 2017-18 season at the UBS Hong Kong Open, as Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia headline the field.


Australian Open
Dates: Nov. 22-25
Venue: The Australian Golf Club, Sydney, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Wednesday     8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Thursday replay)
Thursday         8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 4-8 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8 a.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Spieth defends: Jordan Spieth won on the first playoff hole over Ashley Hall and Cameron Smith to win for the second time in three years.
Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Cameron Smith, Matt Jones, Geoff Ogilvy, Jonas Blixt, Mike Weir and Curtis Luck.


UBS Hong Kong Open
Dates: Nov. 23-26
Venue: Hong Kong Golf Club, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-4 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 8-11 a.m. (Replay)

Live Streaming Airtimes on Golf Channel Digital (Eastern)
Wednesday     9:30-11:30 p.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Thursday         9:30-11:30 p.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Friday              11:30 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)
Saturday          11 p.m.-1 a.m. (Live, Golf Channel Digital, continuing at 1 am ET)

Broadcast notes:
Brazel defends: Sam Brazel finished one shot ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello to claim his first European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Harold Varner III, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sam Brazel, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.