Watson Not a Failed Captain, Piece of a Failed System

September 30, 2014 in Golf by Chris Chaney

Alastair Grant / AP

The United States lost their third consecutive Ryder Cup to Europe on Sunday evening in Scotland, 16.5-11.5. The defeat was America’s sixth in the last seven editions of the biennial event and the eighth time Europe took home the Cup in its last 10 tries. That’s a few different ways of saying that Europe has flat-out dominated the Ryder Cup over the past two decades.

The latest failing of the red, white and blue has resulted in the emergence of a handful of scapegoats, easy targets for finger-pointers and media types looking to fill column inches. Let’s lay them out.

First, there’s Ted Bishop, the gregarious outgoing 38th President of the PGA of America — the governing body of Ryder Cup USA and the organization that chooses the team’s captain. Bishop, a man caught between old-school tendencies and the need to show proof of life in up-and-coming golf, is not one to let a big moment slip by, nor one who fails to take a strong stand.

Enter Tom Watson. Bishop’s talisman for the back-the-chalkboard, no-nonsense shake up of the US Ryder Cup. The eight-time major winner led the last successful US conquest into Europe in 1993. While his individual playing record spoke for itself, his Ryder Cup mark of 10-4-1 carried enough weight for the PGA of America to tap him as the first two-time captain since Jack Nicklaus in 1983 and ’87. However, simply put, Watson wasn’t the man for the job.

More on that in a bit.

Lastly, and probably most culpably, there were the 12 men who earned (or texted) their way onto the team via automatic qualifying or by doing enough to garner a captain’s pick. Ultimately, the blame lies with them. The US were simply outplayed over the three days at The Gleneagles Hotel. If a number had to be put on the extent to which they were outplayed, 32 would be that number. The Euros were a combined 110-under par over the five sessions while the Americans combined for a total of 78-under par. 32 strokes difference.

While the numbers may tell enough of the story for some, there is more to a Ryder Cup than simply scoring. Strategy, player involvement, pairings, personality mix and player comfortability are just a few of the balls the captain must juggle to ensure his players have the best opportunity to succeed. To that end, Bishop and Watson failed the United States.

The 2014 Ryder Cup Team

As previously stated, Watson wasn’t the right man for the job. A hard-nosed, set-in-his-ways 65-year old, Watson is a man who earned his reputation during a different era of tour players. The 12 he captained last week are byproducts Tiger Woods era; that of big purses, robust entourages and agent coddling. The top players in the world these days make far too much money and are too accustomed to getting their way to have someone like Watson treat them like a nun with a paddle.

The players much prefer a Fred Couples-type. A players’ manager, if you will. One of them. Someone who listens to the players concerns, makes them feel heard and sets them up in the best way that they, the players, feel they can help the team win a point.

You know, someone like Paul McGinley.

Watson was never going to be that guy. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but those familiar with Watson—  which presumably the folks at the PGA of America are — should have known this by spending any significant time with him prior to appointing him. Watson doesn’t suffer fools gladly and he’s ardent in his moral compass. Just ask Gary Player.

That said, Watson is just the latest example of an institutional failure. A system that, unlike the European Ryder Cup committee, views the captaincy as lifetime achievement award of sorts, not a natural progression in a proven winning recipe.

McGinley, the victorious 2014 European captain, has been both a Ryder Cup vice-captain and a Seve Trophy captain twice. At 47 years old, the Irishman is not only a staple at European Tour events, but also at big PGA Tour events thanks to a move into television. The captainship in Europe is more of a pay-your-dues, climb-the-ladder experience that transforms one into a hands-on CEO. The captainship in America is a figurehead position that doesn’t take into account previous captainships or vice-captainships.

If America wants to climb out of the slump that they are currently mired in, they need only look across the pond. If not outright copy the Euro’s process, the Americans should cherry pick their best ideas. To this point, losing 80 percent of the events over the last 20 years, one would hope that the Americans have developed some kind of chip on their shoulder.

Scott Heppell / AP

Seve Ballesteros, Europe’s invisible leader, took the constant losing to America as a direct insult in the 1970s and early 1980s. The need to prove to himself and his fellow Euro Tour members that they were just as good as their counterparts in America is what sparked the European dominance that we are still seeing today.

The Americans need that kind of bravado, that kind of passion and that chip on their shoulder. Of course, the same problems that arose with a hard-nosed captain may be a hindrance in this case, as well. Too many players with too much money and too many yes-men surrounding them drain that passion. They’re encouraged to be entrepreneurs in a sense, brand managers and their own bosses. As such, when they’re given rigid guidelines, they don’t respond well.

However, as was referenced ad nauseum this weekend on Twitter, the majority of the European team resides Stateside and are guilty of the same coddling and individualistic nature as the Americans. To say the American’s are alone in this epidemic is a cop-out. So, what’s the difference between the two sides?

The captain.

McGinley led a campaign to get named to the captain for 2014 only after putting in the hours working under other European skippers and captaining less prestigious events. He then lobbied for the  captaincy following the 2012 Ryder Cup and embraced the players he would be presiding over, earning their trust and eventually, their endorsement.

Watson’s vice-captains — who, if this were the European team, would be the virtual “captains in waiting” — were Raymond Floyd, Andy North and Steve Stricker. Stricker was a last-minute addition and perhaps a last ditch effort to secure someone with some semblance of a relationship with the players on Tour. The cronyism of the vice-captains should be done away with in full, if only for the betterment of the future of US Ryder Cup teams. The vice-captaincy should act as a farm system for future captains.

Where do we populate this farm system from? Easy: Presidents Cup captains and vice-captains, Walker Cup captains, even prominent teachers and former players still around the Tour with a love for the event and match play format. The current 21-person committee that selects the captain is made up almost entirely of PGA of America suits. This needs to be cut in half in the least and blown up at the best. The PGA of America president will always be in on the decision, so goes the power struggle, but a more player-centric model is necessary.

Phil Mickelson speaks his mind at the post-event press conference.

And as for the players — those ultimately responsible — if Phil Mickelson’s comments told us two things, they were: 1) The players want to be involved in the decision-making; it’s what they’ve come to expect on a week-to-week basis and to deny them that privilege is to bring second-guessing into the fray; and 2) The US is reaching that tipping point where losing is no longer just a shrug of the shoulders; it’s becoming embarrassing and a blemish on their career résumés.

The losing culture that has manifested itself on US soil needs to be eradicated. The current crop of elder statesmen: the Mickelson’s, Jim Furyk’s and Tiger Woods’ of the world need to convey that losing this event every two years in not acceptable. They may be victims of a broken system, but they can be the vehicles for change.

Maybe then, they’re Ryder Cup legacy won’t be the three men who boast the most losses in US Ryder Cup history, but the men who said enough is enough and righted the ship. The systematic failure, like the 2014 loss, does not fall on one person. It falls on a culture and a process that are broken and need to be redesigned.

Europe has won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups. They’re doing something right. Why don’t we take a page out of their book?


2014 Ryder Cup Preview

September 25, 2014 in Golf by Chris Chaney

The most compelling three days — or nights… or mornings… whatever — of golf are nearly upon us as the 40th Ryder Cup matches kickoff from The Gleneagles Hotel’s PGA Centenary Course in the early hours of Friday morning.

The European team, captained by Ireland’s Paul McGinley, a man who studied and played collegiately in the United States, open as the betting favorites over an American squad headed up by Tom Watson, a golfing icon who won five of his eight major titles in Europe.

The Ryder Cup requires no preamble. Let’s get into the preview.

The Players (sorted by the Official World Golf Ranking):

Microsoft Word - rccap.docx

The Course – PGA Centenary Course

Gleneagles.com

The players face an interesting dilemma this week on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus — an American-style course that is susceptible to Scottish weather conditions.

The course, which Nicklaus was contracted to complete in the early 1990s, sits in Perthshire, Scotland, some 30 miles inland from the nearest reaches of the North Sea. What that short drive precludes the course from is the typical links-style courses that we associate with golf in the Kingdom. We won’t see players hitting 7-iron runners 230 yards, the agronomy of the course simply doesn’t allow it.

However, we will see typical Scottish weather for late September, i.e. strong wind gusts, cool temperatures and very likely, some precipitation, which will call for interesting shot making, just none that are prototypically American or links.

There are hints of typical Nicklausian tee shots a la Muirfield Village, and more recently, Valhalla, but given Jack’s attempt to create a unique Scottish course, the landing areas that are so robust at the American Midwestern courses aren’t as forgiving at Gleneagles.

Overall, the course is simply different. The landscapes beyond the course showcase the Scottish countryside with rolling hills, but trees framing the holes’ shape conjure thoughts of courses in Michigan or Colorado.

One thing is for sure, however: the Centenary Course was made to be spectator friendly. There are natural amphitheatres as well as the manmade enclosures we’ve come to expect at major tournament venues.

Stories You Need to Know

Press Association

Every (other) year, the buildup to the actual playing of the matches is a practice in futility. The anticipation mounts so much so that by the time Tuesday of Ryder Cup week rolls around, all any one really wants is to get the matches underway. Of course, that can never happen without some manufactured storylines that will either have an immense and immediate impact on the matches or — more likely — no impact whatsoever.

Here’s a few that you should be abreast of heading into the matches:

  • Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are both involved with a lawsuit that McIlroy has filed against Horizon Sports Management, McIlroy’s former and G-Mac’s current representation agency. McDowell is only indirectly involved as McIlroy is citing preferential treatment given to McDowell that he did not receive. This whole thing has been a drum up of a split between the two’s chummy relationship. Both insist it hasn’t harmed their friendship.
  • Speaking of, Phil Mickelson took a jab at the ongoing litigation in his press conference saying of the US’ team cohesion, “Not only are we able to play together, we also don’t litigate against each other and that’s a real plus, I feel, heading into this week.” Clearly, it was a tongue-in-cheek comment and McIlroy and McDowell said as much, which, of course doesn’t mean it won’t be brought up ad nauseam, especially during Friday’s Fourball matches.
  • Rory has a new driver. It’s a Nike prototype. People are freaking out that he won’t hit it well — by his admission, the catalyst of his game. That harkens back a quote Rory’s frenemy G-Mac gave when the World No. 1 was making the switch from Titleist to Nike: “(Rory’s so talented) he could succeed using a shovel.”
  • Johnny Miller is the color guy on NBC this week. He’ll probably say something about choking that will gain some traction.

Format Explanation

For whatever reason, people have a hard time understanding the names used for the different sessions this week.

The play goes as follows:

Friday morning – Fourball

Friday afternoon – Foursomes

Saturday morning – Fourball

Saturday afternoon – Foursomes

Sunday – Singles

Here’s the only glossary you need: fourball means best ball, foursomes means alternate shot.

Prediction:

Europe is the betting favorites at -160 to win, -180 to lift the trophy (if the US and Europe tie, Europe retains the Ryder Cup). The United States is +160 to win.

Basically, what that tells us is that past performance and home soil are the only reasons to bet on the Europeans.

The Americans’ average world ranking is 16.33 against Europe’s 19.92. The US hasn’t won the Ryder Cup since 2008 at Valhalla and not on foreign soil since 1993.

The form that seemed destined to carry Europe to victory three months ago has dissipated. Pressure and expectancy are weights that the Europeans alone shoulder. The underdog card has switched hands and the Ryder Cup will as well.

USA 15, Europe 13

Twitter.com/elizabethaustn


Breakfast Ball, 8/12: Projecting the 2014 Ryder Cup Team Using Paul Azinger’s Pod System.

August 12, 2014 in Breakfast Ball by Chris Chaney

Press Association

On Saturday morning at the PGA Championship, with the Golf Channel set quarantined off from the rain, 2008 Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger joined the set of Live From and spoke on all things golf, including, of course, the Ryder Cup. 

Azinger famously led the United States to their most recent victory in the biennial event in 2008 on the same grounds that the last major of the season was contested. And beings that last week’s PGA Championship marked the last opportunity for US players to rack up automatic qualifying points, the 12-man roster became just a bit clearer as darkness fell in Louisville.

Three weeks from today, 2014 US captain Tom Watson will pick the final three players to round out his team, but the question of who those three players will be remains one that will be kicked around for the next 21 days. Beings that the PGA of America — who is charge of the US Ryder Cup — went off the board to choose Watson for a second time as captain, why not throw out all the stops and do everything in their power to have the best chance to win?

By nearly all accounts, the European team will be the betting favorites when the 24 players are solidified. In fact, European betting house Paddy Power already has the Euros at nearly 1-2 to win the Cup and slightly worse odds to retain it.

Watson was the last US captain to win the Cup on European soil, defeating Bernard Gallacher’s European squad 15-13. Since ’93, the US has won the Cup just twice — in 1999 at Brookline and in 2008 at Valhalla. With that kind of pedigree taking to the Centenary Course at Gleneagles next month, let’s take a look at how the US team could stack up using the last known winning method, Azinger’s pod system.

First things first, we need to understand the pod system. Azinger formed his strategy long before he was the captain and lifted the idea from a documentary he saw on the Discovery Channel about the Navy SEALs, which he would later detail in his book “Cracking the Code.” The Navy broke down the SEAL recruits into small groups to help them learn how to fend for their teammates. Azinger translated that thinking to the Ryder Cup, by and large giving the players ownership over their own team within a team, even allowing the players to make their own captain’s selections.

The thinking behind this is brilliant for a number of reasons, but none moreso than Azinger knowing the type of guys who play for the US. This is not a debate about whether or not the US “wants” the Ryder Cup enough, but certainly it could be argued that regardless, these players don’t want to be embarrassed by their play or the play of a guy they tapped themselves. Azinger tapped into the players’ egos, which in turn led to more accountability and playing for one another.

Azinger broke down his eight automatic qualifiers, plus Steve Stricker — an early captain’s pick. From there, with nine guys, Azinger broke them up into three groups of “like-minded” personalities. Those three groups were then tasked with picking one player each from a group of six to fill out their four-man pod. Throughout the four-session (fifth was rained out) event, players only played with guys from their pod.

So, here’s how the automatic qualifiers of US Team looks today, Aug. 12, broken down into respective pods by yours truly:

Now, with that done, each group would get a pool of six players from which they can select one player to fill out their four-man pod. Running through the standings while keeping in mind the like-mindedness, here are the 18 players available for picks:

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The pool consists of guys from No. 9 (Dufner) in the rankings to No. 39 (Koepka), but all were added with a pod in mind. Just looking at the names, having 18 solid guys with others still left out, could make you think that the US isn’t in as bad of a way as some are portraying them to be. That’s a different argument for a different day. Let’s break down the pods.

An important aspect of the pods, fairly or not, is favoritism. Plain and simple. In this format, guys are going to have to vouch for one another; put their name on the line for the sake of someone else and that should be taken into account just as much as current form.

Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Starting with the Bible Boys, there are three names that jump out right away — Simpson, English and Haas. Todd seems to be tapering off after what was a really good stretch of play; Harman, while a winner this year and fellow Georgia Bulldog with Bubba, and Compton, despite an unbelievable story and solid year to match, just don’t seem to have the caché needed.

Ranking the top-3 in the Bible Boys group, Simpson seems the most likely to garner a pick, followed by Bill Haas and then Harris English. English, as a member of the Sea Island Mafia, would be a natural pair with Johnson, but unless he kicks it in in the next few weeks, the two ahead of him seem like tough mountains to summit.

Simpson has the slightest edge over Haas at the minute given his recent form and his 2-1 record with Bubba in the 2012 Ryder Cup where the two dominated two of their three matches together. Haas has not played in a Ryder Cup to this point in his career, although he did play on the 2011 and 2013 Presidents Cup teams. He has a combined record of  3-5-2.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

In the Steady Eddie pod, again, it seems to be a three-man race. Dufner’s neck injury sounded serious when he backed out of the PGA Championship and he didn’t seem keen on coming back even next season, much less in two months. Chris Kirk goes the way of a Todd, Harman, Compton type and Steve Stricker, for as well as he played last week and all of his experience, may not have five rounds in three days in him.

That leaves us with a strong pool of talent including Moore, Mahan and Snedeker. The latter two of the three played solidly on the weekend at Valhalla, posting T7 and T13, respectively. Moore, for as well as he’s played this season, fell down the leaderboard on Sunday, posting a 3-over par 74.

This threesome seems to have the most to prove and most to gain over the next three weeks in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. A win by any one of the three would be huge, but barring that from happening, let’s rank them from most to least likely: Snedeker, Mahan, Moore. Again, even though Moore has the best résumé of the bunch this season, going off of players willing to put their name on the line for one of the three, more often than not, they’re going to go with proven Ryder Cuppers.

Getty Images

Lastly, we get to the Young and Fiery. Phil Mickelson will act as the patriarch for this pod, which excuses him from the “young” misnomer. This pod may be the easiest to pick based solely on past Ryder Cup experience and want-to.

For Na, Every, Woodland, Horschel and Koepka, the fire is there. They’re young and talented and want to play for their country, but unfortunately for them, Keegan Bradley is in their pool. The most impressive thing Keegan Bradley did, should he get on the 2014 Ryder Cup team, is make it in 2012. A natural understudy to Mickelson and a explosive competitor, expect Lefty to take over the de facto captainship of this pod. As such, Bradley is the only option.

The pair went 3-0 in team competitions before not playing in the afternoon on Saturday at Medinah in 2012. Both lost in tight singles matches, but are among the most passionate Ryder Cuppers that America has. This pool is the biggest no-brainer of them all and with Bradley starting to show some form over the past few weeks (PGA excluded), he’s got to be the one to come out of this pool.


Breakfast Ball, 8/11: McIlroy’s Mishit Leads to His Fourth Major Championship

August 11, 2014 in Breakfast Ball by Chris Chaney

David J. Phillip / AP

Standing on the 10th fairway, after turning in 1-over par 36, Rory McIlroy was 12-under par for the championship and he needed a spark. 

Just up ahead on the 10th green, Rickie Fowler rolled in a 28-foot birdie putt that moved him alone atop the leaderboard at 15-under par. Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson were both at 14-under and McIlroy needed to make a move lest he be left playing up the final few holes as the daylight waned, the crowd and PGA of America ready to begin someone else’s trophy presentation.

McIlroy had 281 yards, according to Shot Tracker; 284 yards according to his caddie, JP Fitzgerald — either way, a 3-wood. And at the biggest moment of his tournament to that point, McIlroy mishit the red-crowned club just perfectly.

“Necked it!” CBS’ Nick Faldo said right after impact. The shot, hit low and left on the club face, skirted up the left side of the fairway and rolled out some 30 yards in wet conditions to come to rest just outside of seven feet from the cup for eagle. McIlroy would admit to the mishit after the round saying that the ball flight was 30 feet lower and 15 yards left of its intended line. Even still, there was a putt to be holed.

Of course, McIlroy found the stroke. Center cut.

On a week that showed cracks in his armor — drives that made him wait a tick longer before picking up his peg and strutting off the tee box, putts that burned edges and a few puzzling snap hooks — the three-time major champion made it four in near darkness, bubbles of light only coming from broadcast towers, Valhalla’s club house and illegally snapped iPhone pictures.

Some will say he out-dueled a five-time major champion in Mickelson, overpowered an up-and-coming contemporary in Fowler and outlasted a 38-year old Swede in Stenson who is finding the form that made him the money winner on both sides of the Atlantic last year, but what McIlroy really did on Sunday evening in Louisville was confirm his chokehold on the modern game.

Even standing on that 10th fairway down three strokes, McIlroy was never out of the championship. He’s got the “it” factor that people talk about. We’ve always thought he’s had it, despite his wins at majors prior to this week coming by a combined 18 strokes — as if that’s not “it” enough — but McIlroy proved he can win ugly and without his top-level game at the 96th PGA Championship.

On the front nine when nothing was going his way, McIlroy had the same bounce in his step, the same stone-cold look on his face and inevitably, the belief that once one putt goes down, the guys in front of him were in big, big trouble. That putt came on the seventh hole. And then the major championship break he needed came three holes later.

The back nine was a practice in dominance. While first Stenson, then Fowler and ultimately, Mickelson stumbled through the pressure-cooker that is the final few holes at a major championship, McIlroy had putts for birdie (or eagle) on each of the last nine greens, six of which were inside 20 feet.

David J. Phillip / AP

His longest look at birdie on the back nine came on the 18th hole. He had two putts to cover 34 feet. His first stroke took care of 33½ of it and the remaining few inches were an afterthought. When he tapped in, McIlroy let loose a massive right hook and then a primal yell. The belief he held coming into the day was no long that. Instead, it was a certainty. 

“I just knew,” McIlroy said afterward. “I knew that I’d have my chance.”

Turned out, he had nine chances on the inward half and he played the last nine holes in 4-under par. Mickelson, Stenson and Fowler, combined, played that stretch in 1-under. McIlroy ultimately won the championship by the slimmest of margins, but with three holes to play, it was his to lose and at no time did it look like he would.

Now, McIlroy joins Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won four majors before the age of 26 in the last 100 years. Pretty heady company, but the kind that McIlroy has played himself into.

Next on his agenda is a week off in New York and Northern Ireland, then back Stateside for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. From there, it’s the Ryder Cup, the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and defending his victory at the Australian Open in November.

However, that’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things because next on the major’s calendar is Augusta in 240 days when McIlroy goes for the career grand slam and a chance to join some more heady company. Interestingly enough, we could find ourselves in eight month’s time reliving McIlroy’s shot on the 10th hole at Valhalla with the backdrop of his meltdown on the 10th at Augusta in 2011.

For a while, the 10th hole at Augusta National defined Rory McIlroy in major championships. Three years and four majors later, the 10th hole at Valhalla became just the latest site of McIlroy defining his own legacy.


Breakfast Ball, 8/6: All the Reasons Tiger Should Skip the 2014 PGA Championship.

August 6, 2014 in Breakfast Ball by Chris Chaney

AP

Less than 24 hours before his scheduled first-round tee time, Tiger Woods has yet to register, show up on the grounds or make any statement about his plans to play or not in the 94th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. 

Withdrawing with 10 holes remaining in his final round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week, Woods boarded Air Tiger, his G5 private jet, and headed back to Jupiter, Fla., where, if agent Mark Steinberg is to be believed, Woods has spent his week getting treatment for back spasms. Having received an extension from the PGA of America after missing the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to register, Woods now has until his 8:35 a.m. tee time Thursday to register and stake his claim at a 15th major championship.

At this point, the reasons for why Tiger should not playing far outweigh the reasons why he should. Let’s look at a couple of them.

First and foremost, he’s not going to win. In his last two starts, against fields that were weaker than this week’s — the Open strength of the field, according to the Official World Golf Rankings, was 902; the WGC Bridgestone was 804; this week is 913 — Woods finished solo 69th at Hoylake and was looking at roughly a 50th-place finish before calling it quits. What’s more, Tiger finished 23 strokes (Open) and 18 strokes (through 62 holes at Bridgestone) behind Rory McIlroy, the winner of both events.

McIlroy, along with Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, are playing some of their best golf of their individual lives, which isn’t even to mention guys like Rickie Fowler, Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Charl Schwartzel who are playing superbly as well. A banged-up Woods has shown no signs of playing up to their level and another set back puts him even further behind those guys.

His game isn’t ready or up to snuff. Valhalla is a ball striker’s golf course, which is to say, it requires solid iron play into the greens. The length of the rough isn’t out of control, so bomb and gouge can work if players keep it relatively close to the fairways. Last week at Firestone, Woods hit 35 of the 62 greens he played. Not consequently, his driver has been about as reliable as his back.

Woods is the play-yourself-into-shape type and the reps, as he likes to call them, simply aren’t there. Has he made progress since his MC at the Quicken Loans? Unequivocally, yet he still hasn’t done enough to risk further injury for one tournament.

CBS

That’s precisely what he has left to play this season: one tournament. With his WD last week, any FedEx Cup points that he would have added to his robust 45-point total disappeared when he got taken off the course in a golf cart. Even if Woods were to play this week and finish in solo second place, he wouldn’t qualify for the first round of the Playoffs. The Wyndham Championship is likely out of the cards and now, so is the Ryder Cup.

US Captain Tom Watson said he’d be happy to pick Tiger if he was “healthy and playing well.” The WD last week as he fell down the leaderboard crossed out both of those caveats.

Speaking of health, why not take all the time he needs and call it a year? Woods admitted that he came back to golf sooner than he would have liked, but the Quicken Loans, which benefitted his foundation, needed a boost. It was only two weeks earlier than he was predicting, but early nonetheless.

Stacking Woods up against guys like Graham DeLaet and Jason Bohn who had the same surgery gives us a general time frame for a return, but nothing set in stone. Woods said on his site when announcing the surgery that it was done for his “long-term health,” so why not take the week and rest of the year off with the long-term in mind?

At 38 years old, Woods still has a decade’s worth of professional golf left and the accompanying major championships. Missing this one with the big picture in mind seems not only the practical thing to do, but the only thing. With no looks at the changes to Valhalla and a one-day scouting trip by his caddie to go on, what makes him think he can make the cut, much less contend?

For those reasons and innumerable others, Tiger Woods should skip the PGA Championship.

Having said that, I fully expect to see him on the driving range tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.