TIME golf

Tiger Woods to Take a Break From Golf

Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.
Donald Miralle—Getty Images Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.

"My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf."

Tiger Woods will leave professional golf until his game gets better, he announced Wednesday.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me,” he wrote on his website. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

Woods shot a career-low 82 in Phoenix last week, missing the cut for the Phoenix Open by 12 shots. He then withdrew from Torrey Pines on Feb. 5 because of tightness in his back, prompting speculation that the back surgery he had last spring would hurt his long-term prospects. His current world ranking at 62 is his lowest since he went pro in 1996.

“I’d like to play The Honda Classic — it’s a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me — but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready. That’s not fair to anyone,” Woods concluded in his statement, setting a tentative goal of returning to the PGA Tour on Feb. 23. “I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

 

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: February 6

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Engine Failed on TransAsia Flight

TransAsia Airways Flight 235 experienced engine failure shortly before it crashed in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, on Wednesday, says the executive director of Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council. The news comes as TransAsia announced that the death toll has risen to 35

Behind the Fifty Shades Boycott

A social-media movement is pre-emptively objecting to the upcoming film’s supposed glamorization of violence, especially violent sex

Jordan Goes to War With ISIS

Dozens of Jordanian fighter jets bombed ISIS targets on Thursday, intensifying attacks after the militants burned a captured Jordanian pilot to death

Katy Perry Getting Mobile Game

Katy Perry this week signed an exclusive, five-year partnership to create a free mobile game with Glu Mobile Inc, the mobile developers that created Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The game will launch on iOS and Android platforms at the end of the year

RadioShack Files for Bankruptcy

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy, marking an ignominious end for the 94-year-old retailer that had sold the first mass-market computer. The company will turn space in 1,750 of its stores over to Sprint

Rebels, Ukrainian Forces Agree on Humanitarian Corridor

The pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine say they have reached an agreement with government forces on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the epicenter of fighting. More than 5,300 people have been killed since the separatist insurgency flared up in April

Tiger Woods Withdraws From Farmers Insurance Open

Tiger Woods walked off the course after 11 holes, citing tightness in his lower back, eventually withdrawing from game. In his last six tournaments since back surgery last March, he has missed the cut three times and withdrawn from two tournaments

Sacred Sperm Film Explores Jewish Taboos

Like so many parents, Ori Gruder was grappling with how to talk to his 10-year-old son about sex. Being a member of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious community, which tends to keep discussions of sexuality to a whisper, made the task even more difficult

China May Be Behind the Anthem Attack

State-sponsored Chinese hackers may have been behind the massive cyberattack on the American insurer Anthem that was uncovered last month and resulted in the theft of sensitive information belonging to an estimated 80 million customers

911 Call in Marion ‘Suge’ Knight’s Murder Case Released

A 911 recording made by a witness to a hit-and-run incident involving Marion “Suge” Knight has been released. The 49-year-old rap mogul has pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Terry Cater and attempting to kill Cle “Bone” Sloan

Undersea Volcanoes May Be Impacting Climate Change

A new study claims that volcanic eruptions along the ocean floor may impact earth’s climate cycle and that predictive models, including those that analyze humanity’s impact on climate change, may need to be modified

Potheads Finally Have Their Own Dating App

A company in Denver has come up with a dating app similar to Tinder, but geared toward marijuana users. With High There!, users create profiles and swipe through the photos of potential dates, optimizing possible matches according to consumption preferences

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TIME golf

Tiger Woods Withdraws Because of Tightness in Lower Back

Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in San Diego
Gregory Bull–AP Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament in San Diego on Feb. 5, 2015

"It's just my glutes are shutting off," Woods said

(SAN DIEGO) — New season, same old story with Tiger Woods.

Only it’s no longer a happy tale.

For the third time in his last eight PGA Tour events, Woods got into a cart in the middle of his round and was driven to the parking lot because of back pain. Most troubling about Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open was he spoke only a week ago of feeling “great” physically, and this was only his second event of the year.

He blamed this one on the weather, which caused his “glutes” to shut off.

Woods walked off the course after 11 holes on the North Course at Torrey Pines, citing tightness in his lower back from standing around for more than an hour in the cool Pacific air during a fog delay in the morning. He never looked comfortable, and Billy Horschel noticed it right away. Woods was reaching for his back at the turn. Horschel tried to help by picking up the tee for Woods on their 10th hole and the ball from the cup when Woods made birdie.

“I was ready to go,” Woods said. “I had a good warmup session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again. And it’s frustrating that I just can’t stay activated. That’s just kind of the way it is.”

Woods now has gone 12 straight PGA Tour events without a top 10, dating to his runner-up finish in The Barclays in 2013 when back pain dropped him to his knees. This was his first round since a career-high 82 last week in the Phoenix Open to tie for last with a club pro and miss the cut by 12 shots.

“It’s tough to see a guy I look up to, a guy I consider a friend, to have issues with spasms,” Horschel said. “It’s tough to see him go, but he was in quite a bit of pain.”

Nicholas Thompson had an 8-under 64 on the North Course and had a one-shot lead over Michael Thompson when play was suspended by darkness. Brooks Koepka, coming off his victory in the Phoenix Open, had a 66 on the North. The best score on the tougher South Course belonged to Jhonnatan Vegas, who shot 67.

Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since his six-month leave for “personal challenges,” holed out for eagle on No. 4 on the South Course as his lone highlight. He had five bogeys and was 2 over with one hole remaining.

But this day was all about Woods, which used to be typical at Torrey Pines because he has won the tournament seven times. Thursday was different. Several players came out of the scoring area and said, “What happened to Tiger?”

“It’s just my glutes are shutting off,” Woods said, sound more like a physical therapist than a 14-time major champion. “Then they don’t activate and then, hence, it goes into my lower back. So I tried to activate my glutes as best I could in between, but they never stayed activated.”

It has become a troubling trend for Woods. In his last six tournaments since back surgery last March, he has missed the cut three times, withdrawn twice and finished 69th in the British Open, his lowest 72-hole finish in a major.

“It’s just tough not seeing him have his best, whether it’s with his game or with his health,” said Rickie Fowler, who played in the group with him.

Woods was 2-over par through 11 holes and in a tie for 130th when he withdrew.

He will fall to his worst world ranking since before he won his first PGA Tour event as a 20-year-old in 1996, and he most likely will not qualify for a World Golf Championship for only the second time in his career. Woods is not expected to play again until the Honda Classic in three weeks. Doral is the following week. He did not indicate earlier in the week that he would add tournaments to his schedule ahead of the Masters, which is April 9-12.

The front nine at Torrey Pines was more of the same kind of golf he showed in the Phoenix Open last week, when he missed the cut by 12 shots with a short game that was shocking. On his first hole, the par-4 10th, Woods short-sided himself right of the green and he bladed his chip some 35 feet beyond the hole for a bogey.

He was in trouble again on the next hole, facing the same chip, and this time struck it perfectly. He chipped in to save par.

From there, it was a mixed bag of poor tee shots (he hit only one fairway) and poor iron shots. His tee shot on the par-3 12th wound up on a front tee box at the 13th hole. He missed the green long and right from the 13th fairway.

Woods made a 6-foot birdie on the 16th and he made birdie on the par-5 first hole. The last hole he completed was the most telling.

Horschel and Woods were in the right rough, about 70 yards short of the green. Horschel hit to about 12 feet on the collar of the green behind the hole. Woods went about a yard from a tee box on the next hole, the shot sailing over the heads of the gallery and down a slope. From there, he duffed his flop shot halfway up the hill, hit the next one too hard about 15 feet past the cup and two-putted for double bogey.

Woods won five times in 2013 and was PGA Tour player of the year. He has never looked further from the elite in golf as he does now. Woods took four months off to let his back fully heal and to regain his strength. On Thursday, he headed home early from Torrey Pines to a future as mysterious as fog.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Outraged by ‘Sheer Nastiness’ of Fake Interview

Tiger Woods Dan Jenkins Fake Golf Digest Interview
Warren Little—Getty Images Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during the first round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 7, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.

"A grudge-fueled piece of character assassination"

Pro golfer Tiger Woods published an editorial Tuesday slamming a parody interview in Golf Digest between him and the article’s author, sportswriter Dan Jenkins.

“Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination,” Woods wrote in a piece titled “Not True, Not Funny” on The Players’ Tribune, a platform founded by Derek Jeter featuring the “unfiltered voices of professional athletes.”

Jenkins’ article, which appeared in the December issue of Golf Digest, involves targeted questions that “Woods” answers, including a question about why he doesn’t tip well, a claim made by fellow sportswriter Rick Reilly.

“All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt,” Woods wrote. “Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too.”

Woods also made public a copy of a letter sent by his representatives to Golf Digest publisher Mark Townsend. The document demands an apology and a response to questions about the piece’s journalistic integrity.

TIME Sports

These Athletes Lost Endorsement Deals After Scandals

Nike dropping Adrian Peterson is a reminder of other athletes who lost their endorsements following scandals

Adrian Peterson is officially done with football this season. The NFL made the decision on Tuesday to suspend him after he pled no contest to charges of reckless assault following accusations that he hit his son with a switch.

Nike dropped Peterson from its endorsement roster earlier this month. You could almost call that unprecedented; Nike stood by Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods when they had scandals of their own in the past. That’s not to say Kobe and Tiger didn’t lose support from other popular brands like McDonald’s and Gatorade, however.

Here’s a look at other athletes who lost endorsement deals following scandals.

MONEY

Tiger’s Back—But Golf Is Still In a Hole

digging golf ball out of bunker
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images

Tiger Woods has finally returned from injury and is playing the British Open this weekend. But is he back in time to save his sport from irrelevancy?

Tiger Woods is back on the course at the British Open this weekend, his first major tournament in nearly a year. Though he took home the trophy the last time it was played at Royal Liverpool, in 2006, he’s facing a tougher challenge this time, starting Saturday’s round 14 shots behind leader Rory McIlroy.

A Tiger on the hunt is always good for television ratings, but even the return of golf’s highest-profile player may not be enough to blast the sport out of its current hole. Golfer numbers are down. Golf equipment sales have been tanking. The number of golf courses closing annually is supposed to dwarf the number of new courses opening for years to come. “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said in a conference call in June, attempting to explain why golf gear sales have fallen off a cliff. “We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.”

What accounts for golf’s present rough patch? Here are a handful of reasons, including the curious case of Woods himself.

People are too damn busy. When someone asks how you’re doing, the response among working professionals and working parents especially is probably a kneejerk “crazy busy.” Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both sexes, and that dads are doing more work around the house, though moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they’re more likely to be watching TV than hitting the links. Fathers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week participating in sports (compared to 1.4 hours for mothers), which isn’t nearly enough time to play 18 holes.

As new dad Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal put it recently, speaking for dads—all parents, really—everywhere, “It is more likely I will become the next prime minister of Belgium than it is that I will find 4½ hours on a weekend to go play golf.”

A year ago, golf groups launched a “Time for Nine” campaign, pushing the idea that, because so many people can’t find the time for 18 holes, it’s acceptable to play a mere nine holes. The problem is that it looks like people don’t have time for nine holes either, lately.

It’s elitist and too expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on golf, including booking discounted, off-peak tee times and finding deals on equipment. So golf can be affordable.

It’s just that, by and large, the sport has a well-deserved reputation for being pricey—think $400 drivers, $250,000 club “initiation” fees, and too many gadgets to mention. The snooty factor goes hand in hand with the astronomical prices and atmosphere on the typical course. As USA Today columnist Christine Brennan cautioned recently, unless the sport figures out a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

It’s just not cool. In 2009, Jack Nicklaus lamented, “Kids just don’t play golf any more in the United States and it is sad.”

American kids today seem to be nearly as overscheduled as their parents. And like their parents, tweens and teens probably don’t have the time to regularly play 18 holes, what with soccer practice, saxophone lessons, and coding classes to attend to. Even if kids had more time, would they want to spend it playing an “old man sport”? When iPhones and tablets and Xboxes and Instagram are drawing their attention?

Among the suggestions offered by Golf Digest to increase participation in the sport, columnist Ron Sirak recommended that the USGA should fund caddie programs, and that private clubs should give four-year “scholarships” to junior players, with free lessons and playing privileges.

It’s too difficult. Pretty much every other sport on the planet is more immediately rewarding than golf. Take a snowboard lesson in the morning, and by afternoon, you can make a few turns down the bunny trail without falling (much). Golf is renowned not only for being frustratingly difficult for beginners, but even longtime players “enjoy” it as a frustratingly difficult hobby.

“The deep appeal of golf, once you get hooked, is that it’s difficult,” John Paul Newport, golf columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told NPR in May. “Normally when you play a round of golf, you step onto the green and that’s when all the intense stress starts. You know, this tiny little hole, you have to look at putts from many ways, you hit it a few feet past and you add up strokes quickly around the green.”

Newport was discussing a new golfing option involving 15-inch cups, a system created to make the game much easier and approachable, particularly for beginners. But don’t expect to see it anytime soon. In the description to Golf Is Dying. Does Anybody Care? author Pat Gallagher points to golf’s “resistance to productive change” as a big reason why participation has slumped dramatically. “While other sports have embraced new technology and innovation with open arms, traditionalists strive to protect the game of golf and keep it exactly as they love it—even in the face of suffering courses and shrinking audiences.”

Tiger Woods. Skeptics insist that golf isn’t dying. Not by a long shot. The sport’s popularity, they say, is merely taking a natural dip after soaring to unjustified heights during the “golf bubble” brought on by the worldwide phenomenon that was Woods. After the infidelity scandals and, more recently, poor play and loads of injuries from Woods, fewer people are watching golf on TV, buying golf gear in stores, and, you know, actually going out and playing golf.

So perhaps it’s not so much that golf is losing favor with the masses today as it is that golf’s widespread popularity a decade or so ago was something of a fluke. The decline in golf, then, would basically be the return of golf’s status as a niche game. “Golf courses were overbuilt, saturating major cities and secondary markets with ridiculous golf hole per capita ratios,” golf blogger David Hill wrote in a manifesto on why the sport, in fact, isn’t dying. “Tiger’s decline from Teflon coated Superhero to mere great golfer precipitated the bursting of the golf bubble. It’s as simple as that.”

MONEY

Fore! No, Make That Five! 5 Reasons Golf Is in a Hole

digging golf ball out of bunker
Thomas Northcut—Getty Images

Golf's U.S. Open and Father's Day both take place this weekend. Chances are, dad isn't celebrating by playing golf.

Golfer numbers are down. Golf equipment sales have been tanking. The number of golf courses closing annually is supposed to dwarf the number of new courses opening for years to come. “We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said in a recent conference call, attempting to explain why golf gear sales have fallen off a cliff. “We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant a decline this would be.”

Insult to injury: Tiger Woods isn’t playing in the U.S. Open this weekend, and that’s sure to hurt TV ratings big time. The overarching question, though, is why the golf business has entered such a rough patch—and why it looks to remain in a sand trap, so to speak, for quite some time. Here are a handful of reasons, including the curious case of Woods himself.

People are too damn busy. When someone asks how you’re doing, the response among working professionals and working parents especially is probably a kneejerk “crazy busy.” Studies show that leisure time has shrunk for both sexes, and that dads are doing more work around the house, though moms still devote more time to chores and childcare than their spouses. A so-called “leisure gap” still exists between mothers and fathers, and while dads tend to enjoy an extra hour per day of free time on weekends, they’re more likely to be watching TV than hitting the links. Fathers spend an average of 2.6 hours per week participating in sports (compared to 1.4 hours for mothers), which isn’t nearly enough time to play 18 holes.

As new dad Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal put it recently, speaking for dads—all parents, really—everywhere, “It is more likely I will become the next prime minister of Belgium than it is that I will find 4½ hours on a weekend to go play golf.”

A year ago, golf groups launched a “Time for Nine” campaign, pushing the idea that, because so many people can’t find the time for 18 holes, it’s acceptable to play a mere nine holes. The problem is that it looks like people don’t have time for nine holes either, lately.

It’s elitist and too expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on golf, including booking discounted, off-peak tee times and finding deals on equipment. So golf can be affordable.

It’s just that, by and large, the sport has a well-deserved reputation for being pricey—think $400 drivers, $250,000 club “initiation” fees, and too many gadgets to mention. The snooty factor goes hand in hand with the astronomical prices and atmosphere on the typical course. As USA Today columnist Christine Brennan cautioned recently, unless the sport figures out a way to change course, “Golf is destined to continue to hemorrhage participants and further ensure its place as a mostly-white, suburban, rich men’s niche sport with plenty of TV sponsors who make cars, write insurance and invest money.”

It’s just not cool. In 2009, Jack Nicklaus lamented, “Kids just don’t play golf any more in the United States and it is sad.”

American kids today seem to be nearly as overscheduled as their parents. And like their parents, tweens and teens probably don’t have the time to regularly play 18 holes, what with soccer practice, saxophone lessons, and coding classes to attend to. Even if kids had more time, would they want to spend it playing an “old man sport”? When iPhones and tablets and Xboxes and Instagram are drawing their attention?

Among the suggestions offered by Golf Digest to increase participation in the sport, columnist Ron Sirak recommended that the USGA should fund caddie programs, and that private clubs should give four-year “scholarships” to junior players, with free lessons and playing privileges.

It’s too difficult. Pretty much every other sport on the planet is more immediately rewarding than golf. Take a snowboard lesson in the morning, and by afternoon, you can make a few turns down the bunny trail without falling (much). Golf is renowned not only for being frustratingly difficult for beginners, but even longtime players “enjoy” it as a frustratingly difficult hobby.

“The deep appeal of golf, once you get hooked, is that it’s difficult,” John Paul Newport, golf columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told NPR last month. “Normally when you play a round of golf, you step onto the green and that’s when all the intense stress starts. You know, this tiny little hole, you have to look at putts from many ways, you hit it a few feet past and you add up strokes quickly around the green.”

Newport was discussing a new golfing option involving 15-inch cups, a system created to make the game much easier and approachable, particularly for beginners. But don’t expect to see it anytime soon. In the description to Golf Is Dying. Does Anybody Care? author Pat Gallagher points to golf’s “resistance to productive change” as a big reason why participation has slumped dramatically. “While other sports have embraced new technology and innovation with open arms, traditionalists strive to protect the game of golf and keep it exactly as they love it—even in the face of suffering courses and shrinking audiences.”

Tiger Woods. Skeptics insist that golf isn’t dying. Not by a long shot. The sport’s popularity, they say, is merely taking a natural dip after soaring to unjustified heights during the “golf bubble” brought on by the worldwide phenomenon that was Tiger Woods. After the infidelity scandals and, more recently, poor play and loads of injuries from Woods, fewer people are watching golf on TV, buying golf gear in stores, and, you know, actually going out and playing golf.

So perhaps it’s not so much that golf is losing favor with the masses today as it is that golf’s widespread popularity a decade or so ago was something of a fluke. The decline in golf, then, would basically be the return of golf’s status as a niche game. “Golf courses were overbuilt, saturating major cities and secondary markets with ridiculous golf hole per capita ratios,” golf blogger David Hill wrote in a manifesto on why the sport, in fact, isn’t dying. “Tiger’s decline from Teflon coated Superhero to mere great golfer precipitated the bursting of the golf bubble. It’s as simple as that.”

TIME College

This Graduation Speech by a Single Mother Will Probably Make You Cry

Elin Nordegren made some points about how much getting a degree mattered to her--she also took a few swings at her famous ex

A 34-year-old single mother of two gave a moving and often funny graduation speech after Rollins College recognized her as the 2014’s Outstanding Graduating Senior. After nine years of night classes, this student for whom English is a second language, was graduating with a psychology degree and an impressive 3.96 grade-point average. What’s so special about her? Oh nothing, she just used to be married to Mr. Tiger Woods.

Elin Nordegren, who famously divorced the disgraced golfer in 2010 after a cheating scandal, spoke passionately about the comfort education has brought in her life, calling it the one thing “no one can take away from you.” She also reflected on how crucial her fellow students were to her time at Rollins, especially when controversy in her personal life threatened to overwhelm her progress in school. Getting to see the struggles of her classmates who were also working to earn a degree in night school proved to be a humbling and worthwhile experience for Nordegren:

I was inspired by your passion to reach your goals and you fueled mine. When you told me stories about your full-time day jobs, about coming home to cook dinner for your families and about making sure your children were cared for while attending classes, you inspired me.

The ex-wife of the world’s most famous golfer also couldn’t help but take a few swings at her famous former half:

When I entered my student advisor office in the fall of 2005, I was 25 years old, I had just recently moved to America, I was married without children. Today, nine years later, I’m a proud American, and I have two beautiful children… but I’m no longer married.”

TIME Tiger Woods

Elin Nordegren Jokes About Tiger Woods Divorce in Graduation Speech

“Today, nine years later, I’m a proud American and have two beautiful children," said the former model after completing her college education. "But I’m no longer married”

Elin Nordegren, ex-wife of golfer Tiger Woods, spoke at her own college graduation on Saturday after nine years of study at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.

During that time, Nordegren gave birth to two sons, now aged 5 and 6, and dealt with the revelations of her ex-husband’s multiple infidelities—a period she referred to in her speech as the wild storm of my personal life.”

Nordegren spoke with People in 2010 right before her divorce from Woods, saying that it would be her first and last interview regarding the matter, but her reference to it during the speech still elicited laughs.

The former model graduated with a GPA of 3.96 and was honored with the Hamilton Holt Outstanding Senior Award.

Watch her speech in the video above.

TIME golf

Photos: How Tiger Woods’ Descent Into Injury Began

Woods announced Tuesday that he will miss the 2014 Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week. Although this is the first time he won't play in the event in 20 years, he's pushed his body to breaking point in recent years

Visit Golf.com for a complete timeline of the golfer’s worsening ailments

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