In today’s PGW Daily Rundown, Tiger breaks the silence on his health, the PGA Tour is considering a drastic change to its major schedule, Spieth reignites things with an old flame, a former champion is ready to win again, and Phil Mickelson received swing tips from an NFL legend.
Health Update: Tiger
The saga of Tiger Woods’ health has been mostly one frustrating disappointment after another. The 14-time major winner has missed most of the past two years in his attempt to get his back (in addition to his head) healthy to a point where he can golf and look at least something like he once did.
Last month, another setback delayed his regular return, as he required another surgery: a spinal fusion this time. Tiger opened up about his health one month post-fusion, and had something encouraging to say: he feels pretty good.
- Surgery Needed: Tiger says the spinal fusion was necessary, as the pain was too strong to be able to play golf at the level he has become accustomed to.
- Feeling Great: The April surgery has had very positive results, as Tiger said that he is feeling less pain than he has in years.
- No Retirement Plans: Tiger reiterated that he does not want to retire and has no plans to move on from professional golf.
- No Timetable For Return: There is no timetable for when Tiger could be back on the PGA Tour. His focus is on getting healthy, regardless of how long it takes.
- Original Return: He originally returned to competitive action at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, missing the cut.
- One More Round: Tiger played one more round: at the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, but withdrew after an opening 77, and has not played since.
- Thank You Davis Love III: Love has been especially encouraging for Tiger, informing him of his success after alleviating pain with a spinal fusion of his own.
- Pamphlet About Peyton: Love suggested that Tiger talk to former NFL great Peyton Manning, who shattered professional records coming off a similar surgery.
“There’s no hurry. But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.”
Spieth Ends Brief Affair With New Putter, Goes Back to Old Reliable
Jordan Spieth made waves recently when he ditched his Scotty Cameron that he had used since 2009, years before he embarked on his professional career. Spieth had not been putting poorly in 2017 by most standards, but his stats had dipped, as he dropped from #2 on Tour in strokes gained: putting at the end of 2016, to #39.
With a new putter, he missed the cut at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, and now Spieth has decided to put an end to the affair: he will have the Scotty Cameron back in the bag when he plays the Dean & DeLuca Invitational this weekend.
- Longtime Putter: The 23-year-old Spieth has nine career Tour victories, including two major championships, winning with the same putter that he has had since he was 15.
- Good But Not Great This Year: In 12 events this season, Spieth has one win (the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am), in addition to five top-10s, but the positive results have been in spite of mild troubles on the greens.
- Especially Bad Lately: In five events since the beginning of April, Spieth has three missed cuts, and while he was T11 at The Masters, he was terrible on Sunday, shooting a three-over 75, uncharacteristic of Spieth at the event that he has been incredible at otherwise.
- Quick Breakup: After playing 36 holes on Sunday, Spieth decided to switch back to his old Scotty Cameron. He believes he is close to being past his alignment issues.
“I just lost a little bit of the feel that I had with the putter I’ve been using for however many years. But what it did was now I feel a lot more comfortable with my alignment and feel like I got my set up back to where I want it and I have that feel.”
Flesch Relishes Champions Tour Opportunity
Long-time Tour veteran Steve Flesch has had what most would consider a successful PGA career. He has earned $18 million on the PGA Tour, with four career victories. He has also had some success playing in Asia.
However, Flesch hit a wall in his mid-40s like many do, and has played little since 2009. He now has some hopes that he will be able to make something of a return to his winning days: he turned 50 years old on Tuesday, which qualifies him to play on the Champions Tour. Flesch is wasting no time, as he is in the field for this week’s Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in the Washington D.C. area.
- Journeyman Beginning: Steve Flesch turned pro in 1990, but didn’t become a full time PGA Tour member until 1998 (rookie season).
- Short, Solid Career: In 463 career starts, he has four career victories, with his most recent one coming at the 2007 Turning Stone Resort Championship.
- Best Season: Flesch’s best season on Tour was 2007, where he won twice and earned $2.3 million.
- Semi-Retired: Flesch has not played full-time on Tour since 2011. He has made just 14 starts over the past three seasons.
- Fully Exempt: As a past champion, Flesch is fully-exempt on the Champions Tour and can enter any tournament.
- Inaugural Pairing: He is paired with Kevin Sutherland and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal.
“You wait four or five years and think, ‘OK, I’ve got five years until the Champions Tour. I have plenty of time,’ but it seems like it came so quickly. The last year and a half seemed to take such a long time, but the last month flew by. What all that means is that I’ve been waiting with a lot of anxiousness just to get out here and play again full-time.”
Moving Majors? PGA Championship Might Soon Be A May Event
Those especially fixed in their routines might not like what the PGA Tour is considering. The PGA Championship, the fourth major of the year, has been held in the mid-late summer for a long time (this year’s event will be held from August 10-13).
Last year’s event was moved to late July to accommodate the Olympic Games, but there are discussions to make a more drastic change: to May.
According to European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley, he has been told that if the change happens, it will be announced by the end of August.
- Shorter Season: The PGA Tour, for a few years now, has been considering a shorter season, by eliminating one of the playoff tournaments, and moving around some big events.
- Avoid NFL: By ending before the NFL kicks off, they hope to increase viewership for their playoffs and Tour Championship.
- PLAYERS and PGA: To make it work, the PGA Championship would move from August to May, and THE PLAYERS would move to its original month of March.
- More Orderly: The four majors would be played in consecutive months, bookended by the two Tour premier events: March (PLAYERS), April (Masters), May (PGA), June (U.S. Open), July (British Open), August (Playoffs, Tour Championship).
- Announcement: Keith Pelley, European Tour CEO, said that if the move does happen, it will be announced by the end of August.
- Commish on Board: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this year that the move is something he “would like to see happen”.
“We think it could potentially be a positive. It’s complicated. That is not just one move that makes it all happen. Everyone’s got TV deals domestically and internationally. Just so many moving parts. It’s our jobs as partners to have conversations and understand what are the pros and what are the cons. How can you make this a win-win for everybody?”
–PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, in an interview with ESPN
One Great To Another: Tom Brady Gives Advice To Mickelson
Prior to The Masters, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson played a practice round at Augusta with another five-time winner, Tom Brady, who in February won his fifth Super Bowl Championship.
At the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, which Phil is playing for the first time since 2010, Mickelson elaborated on a conversation the two had, saying that Brady offered advice to help him with his club speed.
- The Concept: Tom Brady informed Phil Mickelson of a golf training concept referred to as “overload, underload”, which Brady applied to football, using it to increase arm velocity.
- Refined: Mickelson and his coach have been doing it for years, but according to Phil, Brady has refined the technique.
- Increases Speed: When applied to golf, the overload, underload technique incorporates the use of different weighted clubs to increase club speed.
- Solid Season: The 46-year-old Mickelson has three top-10s in 12 events this season. He finished T22 at The Masters.
“Sean Cochran (Mickelson’s trainer) and myself, been doing it for a few years. I think they’ve been refined over the years. I think Tom has really refined it and applied it to other sports other than baseball and other than just throwing, to golf.”
–Phil Mickelson on the “overload, underload” technique