Sunday's golf: Tiger Woods practicing again; Collin Morikawa wins Race to Dubai
One swing, two words and three seconds of a video was all it took from Tiger Woods to get everyone talking Sunday about his future on the golf course.
Woods had not made a public comment about injuries from his Feb. 23 car accident in Los Angeles since May, and he didn’t have a lot to offer on Twitter.
“Making progress,” was all he said, accompanied by the video of a smooth swing with a wedge. Woods was wearing a black compression sleeve on his right leg, with a large bucket half-filled with golf balls on a practice range. He also had a launch monitor behind him that measures such metrics as distance and ball speed.
Woods was recovering from another back procedure at the start of the year when he ran his SUV over a median and it toppled down a steep hill on a winding, sweeping road in the Los Angeles suburbs on his way to a television shoot a golf course. Doctors said he shattered tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized by a rod in the tibia. A combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries in the ankle and foot.
In an interview published May 27 in Golf Digest, with which Woods has a financial deal, he described the rehabilitation from this surgery as “more painful than anything I have ever experienced.” He said at the time his top priority was “walking on my own.”
He took care of that already, with videos on social media in the last month showing him walking on golf courses during junior events.
Woods has not played since the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, last December. His last full tournament was the Masters one year ago in November.
It was not clear why Woods posted the video on Sunday. He hosts the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas the week after Thanksgiving.
Woods has had 10 surgeries — four on his left knee, five on his lower back and the most recent for the crushing injuries from the car accident in February. He turns 46 on Dec. 30.
He won a third U.S. Open in 2008 while competing on shredded ligaments in his left knee and a double stress fracture, and he returned from fusion surgery on his lower spine in 2017 by winning a fifth Masters in 2019. His last victory was the Zozo Championship in Japan in the fall of 2019, giving him 82 for his career on the PGA Tour to tie Sam Snead for the all-time record.
In St. Simons Island, Georgia, Talor Gooch was playing too well to get fazed by anything Sunday in the RSM Classic, and it paid off with his first PGA Tour title when he closed with a 6-under 64 for a three-shot victory at Sea Island. He was playing with two guys who have won before. He was pushed early by a past Sea Island champion. The buzz in the middle of the round was another player flirting with 59.
Gooch ran off three birdies in four holes to start the back nine and never let anyone get close to cap off a strong fall with the ultimate prize. The victory moved him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, to No. 33 in the world ranking and to Augusta National in April for the Masters.
“To finish the fall season off like I just did, it’s a dream come true,” Gooch said.
Gooch tied the tournament record of 22-under 260 set by Kevin Kisner in 2014. He became the seventh player in the 12-year history of the event to make the RSM Classic his first victory.
Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, who won the tournament in 2016, rallied from the group ahead of Gooch with four birdies among his last six holes, capped by a 20-foot putt at No. 18 for a 62 to finish second at 19-under 263. Sebastian Munoz (65) was alone in third and Tyler McCumber (60), Cameron Smith (64), Tom Hoge (67) and Seamus Power (68) tied for fourth.
In Naples, Florida, facing high stakes against her toughest opponent, Jin Young Ko delivered a performance that was close to perfect Sunday to win the richest prize in women’s golf and overtake Nelly Korda for LPGA player of the year.
Ko opened with a 25-foot birdie putt and never looked back in the CME Group Tour Championship. She shot 30 on the front nine and closed with the low round of the tournament at 9-under 63 for a one-shot victory of Nasa Hataoka of Japan.
So flawless was Ko that she hit the final 63 greens in regulation at Tiburon Golf Club.
“I don’t know what happened out there,” said Ko, who has been coping with a left wrist injury since May that limited her practice before rounds. “This week was amazing.”
This victory brought big spoils, beyond the $1.5 million to the winner.
The 26-year-old South Korean had to win the tournament to claim the points-based LPGA player of the year, the second time in three years Ko has won the award.
Korda’s big year of becoming a major champion and Olympic gold medalist ended with a thud. She couldn’t keep pace at the start and was never a serious factor when Ko pulled away on the back nine. The 23-year-old American closed with a 69 and tied for fifth, six shots behind.
British Open champion, Ryder Cup winner and now the first American to finish a season as the European Tour’s No. 1 player.It’s been quite the year for Collin Morikawa.
The 24-year-old Californian showcased his world-class iron play down the stretch in making five birdies in his last seven holes to overhaul a fading Rory McIlroy and win the DP World Tour Championship with a final-round 6-under 66.
With the three-shot victory, Morikawa sealed the Race to Dubai title as the leading points winner on the European Tour.
“It’s an honor to be the first American to do that, to put my name against many, many greats and Hall of Famers,” Morikawa said. “It’s special. I get touched up just talking about that.
“To close it out not just with a top 10 but to actually win … what a great way to finish.”
McIlroy started the final round with a one-stroke lead, and three clear of Morikawa, but bogeyed three of his last four holes and closed with a 74. Tied for sixth, he was five shots adrift of Morikawa.