Tiger’s favorite putter a favorite target for his son
Like any father, Tiger Woods has a list of what his two children can and cannot touch in the house — even when it comes to his golf clubs. Two in particular. One of them is the black Scotty Cameron Teryllium Newport putter that Woods used in his record-setting victory at the 1997 Masters.
Two years later, he broke in a silver Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter that he used in his other 13 majors before switching to a Nike putter.
Now the Newport 2 is back in Tiger’s bag for the Hero World Challenge. It had been residing in the putting studio at his Florida home, and the challenge has been keeping seven-year-old Charlie away from it.
“Charlie knows there are two putters he can’t touch,” Woods said. “They sit next to each other. Touch any putter, do anything you want with any other putter. But those two putters are off limits. Only for daddy.”
That doesn’t keep the kid from trying.
“Of course ... it’s only natural,” Woods said. “He always wants to mess with me in some way.”
He’s human. I wish other people would seem a little bit that way.” Jim Furyk, on Tiger Woods
Marc Leishman faces a big week at the Australian PGA Championship if he wants to assure a return to the Masters next year.
Golf is wrapping up another long year around the globe, and the final world rankings loom. The top 50 are invited to the Masters, and Leishman is sitting at No 54.
The Australian PGA is his last event of the year.
Based on this week’s rankings, 12 players from the top 50 are not exempt for Augusta National.
Most of them are safe, starting with Alex Noren of Sweden (No 9) and Tyrrell Hatton of England (No 23), who will be playing the Masters for the first time.
The final world ranking mostly helps international players who are not playing a full PGA Tour schedule. Louis Oosthuizen (No 26) and Bill Haas (No 40) are the only players on that list who played a full PGA Tour schedule this year.
On the bubble at No 50 is Thomas Pieters, who is done for the year.
Behind him at No 52 is Thongchai Jaidee, who is scheduled to play the Hong Kong Open next week. Scott Hend is No 60 and playing the next two weeks.
That won’t be the end of their Masters chances as Augusta takes the top 50 from the rankings published a full week before the start of the year’s first major.
No rest for Big Easy
Ernie Els finished his 30th event of the year at the RSM Classic, and the Big Easy is not quite done yet.
Els still has a Skins Game in Colombia with Camilo Villegas before heading home for the South African Open.
“I’m trying to find something,” Els said.
For a 47-year-old with 57 victories worldwide, four majors and a spot in the Hall of Fame, there would seem to be no reason to grind.
It’s an example that even for a guy who has endured equal doses of aggravation and glory, sheer love of the game and competition keep pushing him.
“I have enough of everything. I can go do some other stuff, but I still feel I can play decent golf. And I love it,” Els said.
Els, who predicts Tiger Woods will return to championship form, said it is important to set small goals at this stage in his career, and his is simple. His 19 th victory on the PGA Tour was the British Open in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He wants to notch a 20 th title.
“And,” he said with a smile, “maybe have another go at a major here and there.”
Bubba Watson took a lot out of the Ryder Cup without even hitting a shot.
Overlooked as a pick, he was an assistant captain at Hazeltine, and he said he learned how to become a better player.
Watson has played on three Ryder Cup teams and two Presidents Cup squads. He has had only four partners — Jeff Overton, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes. For two straight years (2011 Presidents Cup and 2012 Ryder Cup) he played only with Simpson.
What he learned at Hazeltine was that he should have spent more time leading up to the matches getting to learn other players, their games and their brand of golf balls. Instead, he felt he was too one-dimensional for a captain.
“When you give the captain one person, like Webb Simpson or JB Holmes, when you do things like that, it limits what you can do,” Watson said.
“Those are the things I learned seeing it from the other side, and those are things that I didn’t think about because all you’re thinking about is yourself. We’re so used to thinking about ourselves and not the other stuff.
“So I learned a lot about me as a person and I learned about how I could do better.
“If I do make another team event or if I’m vice-captain again or if I was ever captain, I’ve learned a lot from seeing it from the other side.”
As host of the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods organized a little meet-and-greet.
He didn’t know two players in the 18-man field — Russell Knox of Scotland and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina — who are both among the top 25 in the world.
Knox actually made a passing comment to Woods when they bumped into each other in the restroom at the Quicken Loans National one year.
Woods didn’t remember that.
“My short career will never be over until I play with Tiger Woods,” Knox said at the HSBC Champions last month. “That would be the cherry on top of the cake.”
Woods can’t be faulted. Not only has he been out of golf for 15 months, new players are arriving faster than ever.
“The turnover rate is so much now and so young that sometimes I’ve never heard of about a third of the field before,” Woods said.
The final stage of LPGA Tour qualifying starts Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Florida. Among those in the field is Aditi Ashok of India, who has won her last two events on the Ladies European Tour. Her caddie this week is Terry McNamara, the longtime caddie for Annika Sorenstam ... The Philippine Masters will join the European Tour and Asian Tour schedules in 2018 in a three-year deal ... Bubba Watson has been testing new equipment during the past month, including Ping irons. He also has been testing a hybrid ... Jeunghun Wang has won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award on the European Tour. He is the second straight South Korean player to win the award. The previous two years, the award went to Americans (Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein).
Site: Malelane, South Africa. Course: Leopard Creek CC. Yardage: 6,951. Par: 72.
Television: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 3:30-5:30 am, 7:30-10:30 am; Saturday-Sunday, 5-9:30 am).
Defending champion: Charl Schwartzel.
Last week: Denmark won the World Cup of Golf behind Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen.
Notes: Schwartzel has won three of the last four years by four shots in 2013 and 2015 and by a tournament-record 12 shots in 2012. Branden Grace won in 2014 by seven shots ... Marc Cayeux, who nearly lost his life in an automobile accident in 2010, is in the field ... Among those playing on sponsor invitations are Heath Slocum and Alvaro Quiros ... Adam Scott won the first of his 27 victories worldwide in the 2001 Alfred Dunhill Championship by one shot over Justin Rose. Both were 21 at the time.
Next week: UBS Hong Kong Open
Online: www.europeantour.com and www.sunshinetour.com
Stat of the week
In the 15 months since Tiger Woods last played, only two players older than him have won on the PGA Tour — Greg Chalmers (43) and Rod Pampling (47).
Woods will celebrate his 41st birthday on Dec 30. Other tours
MEN Asian Tour: Panasonic Open India, Delhi GC, Delhi, India. Defending champion: Chiragh Kumar. Online: www.asiantour.com WOMEN Ladies European Tour: The Queens, Miyoshi CC, Aichi, Japan. Defending champion: Japan LPGA. www.ladieseuropeantour.com
Tiger Woods talks with Zach Johnson as they practice ahead of the Hero World Challenge on Tuesday in Nassau, Bahamas.