- By Cedric Golden American-Statesman Staff
Note to Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Don’t overthink this.
Tiger Woods is back. Put him on the 2018 team.
Tiger’s driver took most of the weekend off, but the rest of his game was humming along as if he climbed into a grey DeLorean and set the Flux Capacitor to the year 2000.
He didn’t break the 10-year drought of winning majors, but let the golfing world know he is a viable threat to return to the top of the sport barring injury. His 64 in the final round of the PGA Championship will go down as the most electric runner-up finish in golf history. He just happened to be up against burly Brooks Koepka, who was hitting fairways with 340-yard drives as if he was the one with 14 majors under his belt.
The stoic, stone-faced Tiger of the past couldn’t help but take in the love that was flowing from the overflow crowd at Bellerive Country Club, exchanging fist bumps and high fives with fans between holes. He has obviously gained a greater appreciation for the game in his time away. Sometimes it takes something being taken to open one’s eyes as to what’s been missing.
As for the Ryder Cup, the top eight spots are locked in — Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson — and Furyk will select the remaining four players in two rounds of picks. Woods moved up to No. 11 in the rankings, which pretty much makes Furyk’s decision a no brainer.
No disrespect intended to putt master Kevin Kisner, my favorite Dell Match Play alternate Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar and future Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson — who has hit a rough patch of late — but it’s Tiger time. He will serve as the vice captain of the team and, if Furyk is sane, a participant.
Woods put it best before the fourth round of the PGA: “I’m trending.”
Trending and ascending.
Anyone want to bet against Tiger at The Masters next spring? I’ll take a pass.
My buddy Kevin Robbins, a former Statesman colleague who is now teaching young journalists on the Forty Acres, will be the first to remind you that I wrote eight years ago about us witnessing the end of Tiger’s prime. I was right, of course. He hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open and hasn’t won anything since 2013.
That said, Woods looks more than ready to win another major. Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors isn’t as safe as it was, say, two months ago, but Tiger looks ready to mount a charge at age 42. Good for him, good for golf, and great for anyone who enjoys a good comeback story.
Tom Herman insists that no one in his family tipped off college football reporter Brett McMurphy about former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith’s alleged abuse of his wife, and McMurphy released a statement of a similar sentiment. Embattled Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is on paid administrative leave while the school investigates, but it sure feels like he is in the shadows, quietly orchestrating a way to keep his job.
Jeff Snook, who has reported on Ohio State football, posted the allegation last week. Before the report, I had never heard of Snook but it doesn’t mean he is without credibility.
Meyer and Herman did great things together at Ohio State but aren’t exactly the best of friends these days. After Herman voiced his frustration after a 51-41 loss to Maryland in his Texas coaching debut last season, Meyer didn’t bite his tongue.
“Come on, man,” he told CBS Sports. I don’t know where that came from. “It’s like a new generation of excuse. (Herman) said, ‘I can’t rub pixie dust on this thing.’ He got a dose of reality. Maryland just scored 51 points on you.”
Then Meyer beat Herman in recruiting for prized Lake Travis wideout Garrett Wilson.
Herman was right to simply release a statement and not pour gas onto this growing fire.
This whole situation has the makings of a great reality television show. To steal a line from Chris Rock, I’m not saying Herman tipped off McMurphy. But if he did it, I understand.
Jerry Jones declined to answer a reporter’s question as to why he didn’t remove his hat during the playing of the national anthem before a Dallas Cowboys’ practice two weeks ago.
Why not, Mr. Jones? One note of that wonderful refrain should have had you reaching for your hat with quickness especially since you put the fear of God into any of your players who might dare take a knee while it’s playing.
Here’s a little homework for those of you who will be attending games this fall. The next time you hear the anthem, take a look around. You will notice men still wearing hats, people milling around, some still sitting down, playing on their cell phones, headed for the concession stand, etc. Some of those same folks are the ones hanging some players in effigy for silently speaking out against police brutality to people of color.
Players will eventually find another way to get their message across. In the meantime, these protests won’t gain any further momentum until white players take a knee with their black teammates.