Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods apparently suffered no serious injury on Sunday at the Masters, and said "I really like what I'm doing" with his swing.
 
One of the lasting images of Sunday's final round at the Masters was Tiger Woods crying out in pain after he hit a shot out of the pine straw on the par-4 ninth hole at Augusta National.
 
After his round, Woods explained that he had hit a tree root and jarred his right wrist. "A bone kind of popped out and the joint kind of went out of place," he said, "but I put it back in."
 
Today, Woods' agent Mark Steinberg confirmed that his wrist "is fine" in an email to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. Steinberg provided no additional details on Woods' condition, or when we might see him back in action after a Masters that seemed, all in all, pretty encouraging.
 
 
Woods hasn't said whether the injury would keep him from practicing for any length of time. " I have a little time off, and go back to the drawing board, work on it again, and refine what I'm doing" he explained immediately after his final round at Augusta. "I really like what I'm doing, I got my distance back, and everything is good."
 
He also said he wasn't planning to compete again "for a while." 
 
He isn't playing the RBC Heritage this week, and isn't expected to return until The Players Championship in early May. He might play the week after that at the Wells Fargo Championship, and traditionally plays the Memorial at the end of the May.
 
Tiger Woods' wrist 'fine' after hitting tree root at Masters, his agent says
April 15, 2015 - 11:54am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
Jordan Spieth, the newest Masters Champion, was just born with class. A handwritten thank-you note from when he was just 15 years old is further proof.

On Monday afternoon, I spoke to 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III about a number of different topics. One topic in particular that we spent several minutes on, was Masters champ Jordan Spieth.

Love relayed a story from four years ago when his son, Dru, a few months younger than Spieth, played a casual round with the 2015 Masters champion. Spieth and Dru Love were 17 at the time and Dru reported back to his father that Spieth was, "really, really good."

Love asked what Spieth shot. Dru told him they both shot a 66.

RELATED: Spieth wins Masters in record-tying fashion | Spieth in PGA Grand Slam of Golf

Love wondered then, what made Spieth so much better than Dru if they shot the same score. Paraphrasing, Dru told his father that while he was going to play golf in college, Spieth would be going to play golf on the PGA Tour.

Boy, did Dru get that one right.

Further in the conversation, Love said, "You know how you hear all this stuff about what a great guy Jordan is? How mature his is, etc.? You hear it a lot, right?"

I said, "Yes."

Love said, "Well let me tell you something, even though you hear it a lot, it's under-reported. He is just an unbelievable young man."

To further Love's point -- and to show that Spieth has had "it" for some time now -- The Dallas Morning News released a photo of the below handwritten thank-you note that Spieth sent in 2009, at the age of 15, to the family who funded the scholarship that helped pay his tuition.

Pure class. I loved the mention of the Masters too. Little did Spieth know (or did he?) that just six short years later, he'd be slipping into a green jacket. 

Spieth's handwritten thank-you note foreshadows Masters win
April 15, 2015 - 10:40am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Matt Kuchar
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Matt Kuchar returns to the RBC Heritage this week as the defending champion and hoping to break out of a slump... by his standards.

A week removed from one of the most stressful, grinding weeks of the year -- the Masters -- the PGA Tour collectively exhales for the perfect post-Masters getaway to relaxing, family-oriented Hilton Head, S.C., for the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town.

While players will no doubt be trying their best to claim a famous red plaid jacket for winning at Harbour Town, there will also be plenty to keep their minds away from the course once they're outside the ropes.

RELATED: RBC Heritage tee times | Spieth in PGA Grand Slam | Love talks Masters, more

Here are five players to watch at Hilton Head.

5. Boo Weekley
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T6 at the Puerto Rico Open
Reason to watch: Weekley is a three-time PGA Tour winner. Two of those victories came at the 2007 and 2008 Heritage. He has played well there several times since. There's something about Harbour Town that just fits Weekley's eye. He loves it. With missed cuts in four of his last five starts, Weekley needs something positive to happen soon. It won't hurt to be playing at a place this week where he's so comfortable.

4. Jim Furyk
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T7 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: Included in Furyk's impressive 16 PGA Tour victories is the 2010 Heritage. Until last week's missed cut at the Masters, Furyk hadn't missed a PGA Tour cut since the 2013 Open Championship, a span of 34 events. I look for this week to be of the bounce-back variety for Furyk. He just always seems to finish in or around the top 10 at the Heritage. This is the perfect place for him to play immediately after a missed cut.

3. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
7th at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: After tinkering with a new putter a couple of weeks ago -- it wasn't pretty -- Johnson went back to the trusty SeeMore putter at Augusta National last week, the same one that won him the 2007 Masters. With a pair of 4-under 68s on the weekend, Johnson managed to tie for ninth, which also happened to be his first top-10 at the Masters since his victory. He found something, most importantly, confidence. He's pieced together three solid starts in succession now with T9s at Augusta and Bay Hill and a T20 at the Valero Texas Open. Johnson is trending in the right direction and I think that will continue this week at a place where he was runner-up in 2012.

2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: Kuchar has gone an almost unheard of (for him) six starts without a top-10 finish. That hasn't happened to Kuchar in a single season since May of 2009. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in. That's off the charts golf. Because of that, I'm convinced that something's got to give. And why not this week at the RBC Heritage where Kuchar is the defending champion? Good place to end the "slump."

1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Valspar Championship and the Masters
Reason to watch: OK... with his post-Masters media blitz, this might seem like a crazy pick, but I'm riding the hot hand in Spieth. His last four starts on the PGA Tour look like this: 1-2-P2 (playoff)-1. He's more confident than he's ever been in his life, which is understandable after his record-tying performance a week ago at Augusta National. Is he running on fumes? Probably. But, I love the fact that even with his Masters win -- a life-changing event -- Spieth still honored his commitment to Harbour Town. That speaks to his character. Again, I'm sure he's tired, but look at it this way -- he's just 21 years old. Late last year, he went to Australia, won the Australian Open, hopped a plan to Florida and demolished the field in the Hero World Challenge the very next week. Spieth can handle this.

Here's how my 10 to watch fared last week at the Masters:

10. Tiger Woods -- T17
9. Jimmy Walker -- T38
8. Patrick Reed -- T22
7. Dustin Johnson -- T6
6. Adam Scott -- T38
5. Henrik Stenson -- T19
4. Jason Day -- T28
3. Jordan Spieth -- Winner
2. Rory McIlroy -- Fourth
1. Bubba Watson -- T38 

5 players to watch at RBC Heritage
April 14, 2015 - 1:22pm
Michael.Benzie's picture
Eisenhower Tree cross-cut
Associated Press
The 4 1/2-foot crosscut from Augusta National's famed Eisenhower Tree will join other presidential memorabilia in Dwight Eisenhower's hometown of Abilene, Kansas.
 
Now that the Masters is over, all the players, tournament officials, volunteers and patrons are heading home. Also heading to a new home is a large piece of Masters lore – a cross-section of Augusta National's famed Eisenhower Tree, which is on its way to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.
 
Estimated to be about 120 years old, the 65-foot loblolly pine guarded the left side of the fairway about 200 yards from the tee box on the 17th hole since Augusta National was created in the 1930s. It often bedeviled players whose tee shots drifted just a little too far left.
 
Among those players was Dwight Eisenhower, who joined Augusta National in 1948. The tree grabbed so many of Ike's tee shots over the years that he lobbied the club's leadership to chop it down – according to Masters lore, he even attended the club's annual meeting in December of 1956 to formally seek its removal.
 
Not surprisingly, Clifford Roberts denied his request – which meant the club chairman overruled the leader of the free world.
 
The tree stood tall for almost six more decades, until an ice storm in February 2014 damaged it so severely that it couldn't be saved. Golf fans worldwide mourned its loss, and chimed in with suggestions on what the club should do with the pieces.
 
 
"We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible," current club chairman Billy Payne said in a statement after the storm. "We have begun deliberations of the best way to address the future of the 17th hole and to pay tribute to this iconic symbol of our history – rest assured, we will do both appropriately."
 
On Wednesday, he revealed the result of those deliberations – an 8-foot-high display case holding a large crosscut from the tree – six inches thick and 4 ½ feet in diameter. 
 
The crosscut remained on display throughout the Masters, and is now being shipped to its new permanent home in Kansas. Augusta National also preserved a second cross-cut section that will stay on the premises. 
 
And out in the nursery, there's a seedling from the famous tree. 
 
Could it perhaps someday take the place of its famous forebear alongside the 17th fairway? No decision has yet been made, Payne said.
 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 
 
Piece of Eisenhower Tree heading to Eisenhower presidential library
April 13, 2015 - 9:37am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
T.J. Auclair looks back at five things that stuck out during the final round of the 2015 Masters, including that strange post-round interview with Tiger Woods.

The first major championship of 2015, the Masters, is in the books. Jordan Spieth, 21, started strong last Thursday and never looked back on his way to a record-tying victory at Augusta National.

Here's a look at five surprises from the final day of the Masters.

RELATED: Final Masters leaderboard | What's in Jordan Spieth's bag? | Complete coverage

5. The lack of a Sunday charge
Why?:
Maybe it was because Jordan Spieth picked the course apart with the precision of a surgeon and just refused to make a mistake. Did that take the wind out of the sails for everyone else who -- outside of maybe Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose really late -- had to know they were playing for second?

It couldn't have been the difficulty of the course set up. Based on scoring average, Sunday's 70.9091 was the easiest Augusta National played all week -- more than a full stroke under par.

I'm playing this one on Spieth's extraordinary play, but this Masters Sunday just lacked drama, particularly on the back nine. Surely that's not how Spieth felt as he chased down his first major.

But, whenever someone made even a mini rally, Spieth answered with a birdie of his own, or a clutch par putt.

Is that drama? In fairness, I suppose it is since Spieth had to answer the bell. But since he answered it every time, Sunday's back nine felt like a forgone conclusion instead of the "grab the popcorn and don't leave your seat" kind we've seen so many times before.

4. The incredible leaderboard
Why?:
Seeing as the majors are the four most difficult tournaments to win, logic would suggest that the leaderboard should reflect that. However, it doesn't always work out that way.

Anyone who is on the first page of the final scoreboard has no doubt earned it, so I'm not taking anything away from those who have done so without possessing a household name.

But this final Masters scoreboard? It was crazy good.

Spieth is your winner and the names Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Casey, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen are all among the top-19 finishers.

Now that, friends, is a loaded major leaderboard.

3. The Tiger Woods post-round interview
Why?:
This should probably be filed more under the category of "weird" than "surprise" but even still, I'm including it.

In an otherwise glowingly positive week for Woods on a competitive (T17 after a two-month layoff, who saw that coming?) and human level (hugs all around, signing autographs for fans, taking the kids out for the Par 3 Contest), he left Augusta National Sunday evening after one of the strangest live interviews I've ever seen.

It's not uncommon for Tiger to lose us in interviews with cliches like, "it's a process," or head-scratching comments about "glutes activating," or confusion while talking about, "getting stuck between swing patterns."

But Sunday night took the peach cobbler as the strangest, most outlandish words we've ever heard from Tiger on live TV.

Woods appeared to hurt himself with an approach shot on the ninth hole when he hit a root a split-second after impact. He immediately reached for his right wrist. It looked painful.

MORE: Check out Jimmy Walker's brilliant bunker shot | Rory tops Tiger head-to-head

Twitter was abuzz and the overriding theme seemed to be, "Why? We finally get a healthy Tiger Woods. He's got his game together in a major. And now this?"

Woods would finish the round -- a 1-over 73 -- and didn't show any signs of pain the rest of the way.

So, as he should, CBS reporter Bill Macatee implored. He wanted to know what happened when Woods hit the root.

That's when Woods served up the most unbelievable answer I've ever heard.

"A bone kinda popped out, joint went out of place, but I put it back in," said Woods.

"Really?" said a stunned (like the rest of us watching) Macatee, opening the door for Woods to maybe dial back this preposterous claim.

"Yeah," said Woods, who wasn't budging.

"Wow, OK," Macatee said (click here to see that portion of the interview in case you missed it).

Wow, indeed.

Here's to hoping there are no ill effects for Woods. But, the self-diagnosis was odd.

That was just strange... and surprising since it looked, otherwise, like a week of reform for Woods.

2. Phil Mickelson ties for second... again
Why?:
Phil Mickelson should leave Augusta National over the moon about his performance.

Sure, at this stage in his career, Mickelson only cares about winning -- especially when it comes to the majors. You don't become a five-time major champion with any other mindset.

But like the rest of the field, Mickelson ran into a buzzsaw at Augusta National. There's no reason to be discouraged and he knows that even if there is a little sting with collecting a 10th runner-up finish in a major.

All that aside, and the reason he was a surprise at Augusta National, where in the world did this come from?

Mickelson hadn't had a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour prior to the Masters. In fact, his only top-10 finish over the last two seasons was a runner-up showing last August in the PGA Championship.

Surely he wants to contend every time he tees it up, but it's been clear for a long time now that the majors just bring out the best in Mickelson. Isn't it that way for all the greats?

In the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay this June, Mickelson has his second chance to complete the career grand slam. You're nuts if you don't think he has that week circled on the calendar.

1. Jordan Spieth's record-tying victory
Why?:
It sounds insane to say it isn't all that surprising that the 21-year-old Spieth won the Masters, but it's the truth. He earned the right to be a tournament favorite and he delivered. In his only other Masters appearance a year ago, Spieth was a runner up. He improved on that and, in so doing, slipped into his first green jacket.

What's surprising about the win is the way Spieth did it. He set a 36-hole and 54-hole scoring record. He tied the 72-hole scoring record initially set by Tiger Woods in 1997 at 18-under 270. He became just the fifth player in Masters history to win in wire-to-wire fashion.

MORE SPIETH: Spieth wins Masters, ties record | Spieth in PGA Grand Slam | Photos

All in all, Spieth was just dominant throughout the week -- even when it would have been easy to shake in the shoes a little when names like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy were all making a run on Saturday. Spieth was composed and stuck to his plan. He didn't get ahead of himself.

Unlike many young prodigies (see Sergio Garcia), Spieth never has to live with the annoyance that comes with being labeled "best player never to have won a major." Now, for Spieth, it's all about adding to the legacy.

A fearless, yet composed, 21-year-old who already has a major in his back pocket?

All evidence suggests this is just the start for Spieth. 

5 surprises from the 2015 Masters