Welcome to the official start of golf’s silly season. It kicks off with Tiger’s event, The Hero World Challenge. The event in the Bahamas draws some of golf’s biggest names for a tradition like few others: a big purse, a small field and free world ranking points.
The past three editions of the Hero have served as a lightning rod for Tiger Woods conversation. In 2015, Tiger came to serve as host but was so debilitated by back problems that his future as a golfer was questioned. It wasn’t until 2016’s Hero that Tiger made his first start since the 2015 Wyndham. He finished in 15th, but a Friday 65 had sent a short-lived surge of optimism through the golf world before another back injury in early 2016 derailed his return. His comeback at last year’s event (following a fusion surgery) had tepid expectations but led to an encouraging t9th finish, ten shots back of winner Rickie Fowler. One year later, Woods is ranked 15th in the world rankings, has won the Tour Championship, contended in two major championships and finished 2nd in the season-long FedExCup.
Tiger Woods will headline an elite 18-man field that includes world number two Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau. Gary Woodland clocks in as the highest-ranked player at 32. Full field
The cat’s out of the bag – This year’s Hero marks the amazing transformation of Tiger Woods. After a strong 2018, what’s in store for Woods in 2019?
The winless – Two years ago, Hideki Matsuyama lapped the field for his fourth win in five starts. Shortly after the Hero, Matsuyama ascended to number two in the world rankings and appeared to be one of golf’s elite players. After a wrist injury in early 2018, things went downhill. He enters the week winless on the year and 25th in the world rankings, and the pundits are asking once again, Can Hideki Win?
Joining Matsuyama in the “winless” category are Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay, both of whom had productive seasons filled with high finishes. Fowler’s last win came at the 2017 Hero and Cantlay’s at the 2017 Shriners.
Free points! – One of the crazier aspects of the Hero is the immense world ranking points that are handed out. In 2017, Brooks Koepka finished in last place (21 shots behind Fowler) and netted roughly the same amount of world ranking points as Tony Finau’s t24th finish at this year’s Houston Open, a full-field event.
Around the rest of the golf world
The Australian circuit continues with this week’s Australian PGA Championship. It will be the 115th playing of the event and the sixth consecutive year at the host course Royal Pines. The rather uninspiring Graham Marsh design in Queensland won’t thrill like last week’s World Cup host Metropolitan, but it’s primetime golf at the end of November. Headlining the field is a group of Aussies that includes Marc Leishman, Cam Smith, Geoff Ogilvy, Curtis Luck and Cameron Davis. Along with the Aussies, defending champion Harold Varner III, Sean Crocker and Nick Taylor will be peggin’ it at the Pines.
The European Tour will also tee it up at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. The field will include last year’s champion and new PGA Tour member Dylan Frittelli, Bernd Wiesberger and legend Ernie Els.
More Tiger news
During a recent round with Fred Couples, Tiger had his first hole in one in twenty years. Woods also made a business deal, signing a long-term content partnership with Discovery’s GOLF TV. The deal will include instructional videos and deep dives into Tiger’s preparation and life. In addition to Tiger, GOLF TV boasts a partnership with the PGA Tour and is a growing player in golf media.Full story
Shotgun Start: We ride into the Hero with Kyle Porter
Brendan is on “vacation” with his kids at Disney World, so CBS Sports’ Kyle Porter joins the podcast. Andy and Kyle talk about the the ongoing fallout from The Match and the paywall gaff. Kyle reminisces about how far Tiger has come since last year. Of course, Andy dives into the whereabouts of Hosung Choi’s start this week. The conversation wraps up with a discussion on Oklahoma State golf and the bright future of Matthew Wolff. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
The paywall gaff at the Match cost Turner up to $10 million.
Watch our friend Jon Cavalier surprise his dad with a round at Pine Valley.