Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods won't return to the Greenbrier Classic this year after playing his Quicken Loans National this coming week, according to officials at the Greenbrier.

Tiger Woods shocked us all on Friday by announcing that he'll return to action this coming week at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional. On Saturday, we got another clue as to his schedule going forward.

Jim Justice, the tournament director for the Greenbrier Classic, set for July 3-6 – the week after the Quicken Loans National and two weeks before the British Open – told The Register-Herald newspaper in Beckley, W.Va., that Woods won't play any more events between the Quicken Loans and the British Open.

"He is going to play in his event, and then he'll be off until the British Open," said Justice, who added that he received a courtesy call from Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, to break the news.

BRAND-NEW BAG: MusclePharm signs on as new sponsor of Tiger Woods' bag 

"Tiger loved the Greenbrier and had a great time [there in 2012], but the doctors are telling him he has to rest after playing an event if he's going to try to make the British Open," Justice said. "And he has to play in his tournament (the Quicken Loans National, which he hosts)."

After the Greenbrier Classic is the John Deere Classic on July 10-13, and the British Open is set for July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool – where, of course Woods won the last time the event was played there in 2006.

Woods last played on March 9 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he closed with a 78 – his highest final-round score ever on the PGA Tour – as he dealt with back pain. He had microdiscectomy surgery on March 31, and hasn't played since. 

There had been speculation in recent weeks that Woods might not play any majors this season, but Steinberg said a few days ago that Woods was making progress on his swing. 

 

Tiger Woods won't play again until British Open after next week, according to report
Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods will be back in action next week after almost four months away.

Feeling rusty but ready to play again, Tiger Woods said Friday he would return to competition next week at Congressional in the Quicken Loans National. 

Woods last played on March 9 at Doral, where he dealt with pain in his lower back and closed with a 78 for his highest final-round score on the PGA Tour. He had back surgery March 31, forcing him to miss the Masters for the first time. He also missed the U.S. Open last week at Pinehurst No. 2. 

The announcement on his Facebook page delivered a jolt of good news to golf. Woods has been the game's biggest draw since he turned pro in 1996, and with limited information about his recovery, speculation was starting to build that he might not make it to any majors this year. 

"After a lot of therapy, I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National," Woods said on Facebook. "I've just started to hit full shots, but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty, but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead." 

This is the first year for a new title sponsor at the PGA Tour event that donates its charity money to the Tiger Woods Foundation, and the tournament earlier this year secured an agreement to return to Congressional every other year through 2020. 

Woods on Thursday announced that he signed a new endorsement deal with MusclePharm, which will display its logo on his golf bag. 

"He has been the face of golf for the last 15, 20 years, and golf is a better sport and a better place with Tiger Woods in it," two-time major champion Rory McIlroy said last week at the U.S. Open. "So hopefully, he has a speedy recovery and he gets back on the course soon, because any tournament where Tiger Woods is a factor, he creates a big buzz." 

BRAND-NEW BAG: MusclePharm signs on as new sponsor of Tiger Woods' bag

This is the second-longest break Woods has taken from golf because of injury. He missed the second half of the 2008 season when he had reconstructive surgery on his left knee just a week after winning the U.S. Open for his 14th major. 

Even though he spent the offseason working on his body, there were signs early that something might be wrong. 

He missed the 54-hole cut at Torrey Pines, where he was the defending champion and an eight-time winner at one of his favorite courses. He had his worst finish ever at Dubai when he tied for 41st. Then, he withdrew in the final round of the Honda Classic because of back spasms, and despite being in the penultimate group at Doral, he struggled badly with his back on the final day after taking a swing from an awkward stance outside a bunker. 

Woods had microdiscectomy surgery a week before the Masters, and he has said in rare appearances that he did not know how long it would take to properly heal. His agent, Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management, said earlier this week that Woods was making enough progress to extend his swing. 

Even so, playing the Quicken Loans National was thought to be too soon. 

It couldn't come soon enough for the tournament. 

"We're thrilled, obviously," said Mike Antolini, the tournament director and vice president of championships for the Tiger Woods Foundation. "Anytime you get that call and Tiger is in your field, it's really the best news you can get. The fact he's a two-time champion and the tournament hosts, we're very excited for the fans." 

'NATIONAL' NEWS: Quicken Loans signs on as title sponsor of Woods' 'National' event

He said he expected a spike in ticket sales with Friday's announcement. 

The strength of Quicken Loans National field has suffered in recent years as more Europeans moved into the top 20 in the world, and they headed across the Atlantic Ocean as the European Tour headed places like Ireland, France and Scotland leading up to the British Open. 

Adam Scott, who has replaced Woods at No. 1 in the world while he has been out, was not planning to return this year. 

"To be honest, we were prepared regardless for a good event," Antolini said. "Our ticket sales, we think they're going to be increased on this news now." 

Three years ago, Woods withdrew after nine holes at The Players Championship because of an Achilles tendon injury and missed more than two months. He said then he had learned from past mistakes and would not try to return before he was in full health. 

Assuming he is at full strength now, he likely will be at the British Open at Royal Liverpool and the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he won majors the last time they were held on those courses. Woods been stuck on 14 majors since that `08 U.S. Open victory. 

Woods is at No. 207 in the FedExCup – having played only three events – and could have as many as five events to reach the top 125. He also is at No. 67 in the Ryder Cup standings. U.S. Captain Tom Watson has said he would use a wild-card pick on Woods, though he had eased off that position in recent weeks when the status of Woods' recovery was unknown. 

 

Tiger Woods to play Quicken Loans National next week
Guan Tianlang
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Guan Tianlang made worldwide headlines at the 2013 Masters, but his next start will be back in among his fellow teenagers.

The presence of 11-year-old Lucy Li on our radar screens this week made me wonder whatever happened to Guan Tianlang, who played in the 2013 Masters – and made the cut – as a 14-year-old.

As it turns out, he's taking a step backward – and, to me, that's a good thing.

Over at Golf Digest, John Strege reports that Guan, who is now 15, has entered the Callaway Junior World Championship next month at Torrey Pines. Guan has great experience in that prominent international event, having won the 11-12-year-old division in 2011, and tied for 22nd the next year as a 13-year-old in the 15-17-year-old division.

Guan qualified for the 2013 Masters by winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, and made history at Augusta National by becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. And, of course, he received the first slow-play penalty in Masters history.

He also made the cut in the Zurich Classic in the spring of 2013, but missed the cut in the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship, Memorial and FedEx St. Jude Classic. More recently, he missed the cut in the UBS Hong Kong Open last fall, missed the cut in the PGA Tour's Sony Open in January and missed the cut in the Volvo China Open this spring. 

He also spent some quality time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., according to Coleman McDowell at Golf.com, and has been working with instructor Sean Foley, who of course is also Tiger Woods' swing coach.

Guan was praised by everyone from Ben Crenshaw to Tiger Woods for both his game and his maturity during his run in the United States last year, and no doubt he's special. But taking a deep breath, reappraising his place in the game and deciding to return to the junior ranks (at least for a bit) could be his most mature decision yet.

 

Guan Tianlang returns to junior golf, at least for a while
June 20, 2014 - 8:19am
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The Dunes Golf and Beach Club
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club
The 13th hole, Waterloo, requires a second-shot carry over Lake Singleton to a two-tiered green.

Consistently ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the United States, the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a classic Robert Trent Jones design, with his signature elevated greens and deep bunkers. While the front nine meanders through mature oaks and pines, tidal marshes and Lake Singleton frame many of the holes on the back nine.

The Dunes, along with Grande Dunes Resort Club, will present a formidable challenge to the participants in the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship, to be held June 22-25. Players will tackle each course once over the first two days, with the Dunes hosting the final two rounds.

GETTING THERE: Myrtle Beach International Airport is served by several major airlines, including Delta, United, Southwest and U.S. Air. From I-95, it's about a 90-minute drive to Myrtle Beach on U.S. 501.

ABOUT THE COURSE: Robert Trent Jones was still in the process of making a name for himself when he was asked to design a seaside course by a group of Myrtle Beach citizens just after World War II.

"It was built in 1948 by Robert Trent Jones," Dunes Golf and Beach Club head golf professional Dennis Nicholl said. "It was one of his first major designs. They did what’s now known as the back nine in 1949, and the front nine in 1950. This course kind of put him on the map as one of the premiere architects. This club has a lot of history with him."

RELATED: A hole-by-hole tour of the Dunes | Complete National Championship coverage

The Dunes has hosted several major events, including the U.S. Women's Open, PGA Tour qualifying, Champions Tour events, the Carolina Open and South Amateur. The course has been updated several times since the original design. Jones changed five of the holes in the mid-1970s, and son Rees Jones was instrumental in updating the course to its current 7,400-yard configuration. The Dunes has a course rating of 76.1 and a slope rating of 148. 

"Over time, we’ve had a few renovations here and there," Nicholl said. "We had Rees Jones here last summer and we switched from bentgrass to the champion Bermuda grass, added some new tees and stretched it out to almost 7,400 yards. We think it’ll be a huge test for these players to come in here and play the typical elevated Robert Trent Jones greens."

MEMORABLE HOLES: No discussion of the Dunes is complete without mentioning Waterloo, one of the most celebrated holes in golf. It's a supreme test of length and accuracy, Nicholl said.

"Waterloo is our 13th hole, which is a 640-yard par 5," he said. "It wraps around Lake Singleton, with a two-tiered green surrounded by bunkers. So it’s definitely a challenge. I think there will be a lot of talk about that hole."

Another hole to watch is the finishing hole.

"The 18th hole is a massive par-4, 440-yard hole," Nicholl said. "That second shot into the green there will be a lot of fun, watching that front pin location on the final day.

"The typical prevailing wind pattern for the summertime is from the ocean, so the 18th is playing dead into the wind usually. But in the summertime, with the heat and humidity, it helps the players in one way, but hurts them in another when they’re hitting into it."

WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU'RE THERE: If you can't find something to do in Myrtle Beach, you're not trying hard enough. Just check out VisitMyrtleBeach.com for a few suggestions.

"Obviously, the beach is the No. 1 attraction for anybody coming here," Nicholl said. "That’ll be the focus, and in the summertime, all the hotels are full – we call it ‘kids with sand buckets’ time. At night time, we have the Broadway at the Beach, the Market Common, the theme parks, race tracks, water parks, all those things that anybody of any age would want to do."

FUTURE PNC HOSTS: 2015, Philadelphia Cricket Club | 2016, Turning Stone Resort

If you're looking for entertainment, there are a number of shows and dinner theaters.

"There’s the Carolina Opry and Alabama Theater and the Pirate’s Voyage dinner show," Nicholl said. "There are shows for everybody, and something for everybody to do."

Hungry? Good, because you won't run out of choices any time soon, according to Nicholl.

"Over the Grand Strand, which stretches 60 miles, at last count there were over 1,400 restaurants," he said. "That means you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different place every day for the whole year and never eat at the same place.

"There’s a lot of options out there, like the theme restaurants are at the major attractions, or at Murrell’s Inlet, where you can sit out on a deck and watch the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy some Southern hospitality."

Oh, and don't forget the golf. There's plenty of it at Myrtle Beach. Nicholl is chairman of GolfHoliday.com, which represents 88 golf courses in the area. 

"I think what’s going to shock people when they see the tournament on television is that we really do have quality golf here," Nicholl said. "Myrtle Beach has always been known in the past as sort of a discount place to go. But it’s changed over the past 20 years or so. There’s a lot of great golf out there."

In addition to the Dunes, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club is always highly ranked as a go-to golf destination, along with the four courses at Barefoot Resort. But there's a course nearby for every budget and skill level, Nicholl said.

"There’s a golf course for everybody here, from the very affordable where you can walk on and go out and play nine holes to the top-of-the-line resort destinations," he said.

KEY COURSE DETAILS:

Address: 9000 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29572-4424

Phone: (843) 449-5914

Website: http://www.thedunesclub.net

Categories:
Course review: The Dunes
Lucy Li
Will Gray via Twitter
Lucy Li was cool on the golf course today and even cooler off it, thanks to her post-round ice cream.

Lucy Li, the 11-year-old phenom who qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, shot a 78 in her first round today on Pinehurst No. 2. That is a fantastic score.

Even more fantastic: She did her post-round interview while eating ice cream – and standing on a box so she could reach the microphone. 

MORE LUCY LI: Full recap of her first round at U.S. Women's Open

In her chat with reporters, she said that that Pinehurst No. 2 was hard because "even on the shortest holes, if you're not in the right place, you can get doubles easily."

Li, in fact, made two doubles, as well as a triple and two bogeys. But she also had a couple of birdies, and her 78 was better than the 79s posted by Jessica Korda and Natalie Gulbis.

Her plan for the rest of the afternoon sounds like a good one, too: Eat more ice cream. 

 

 

 

 
Lucy Li does interview eating ice cream and standing on a box
June 19, 2014 - 10:38am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler, Cameron Tringale
Instagram
Rickie Fowler and Cameron Tringale aren't too shabby from the left side.

Watching him on TV, you get the impression that Rickie Fowler would be a fun guy to hang out with.

What kind of stuff would you do outside of the ropes of a PGA Tour event with Fowler? Based on his Instagram account, likely anything from fishing, to terrifying rides on a stunt plane, to cliff diving, to -- at least yesterday -- playing an 18-hole round of golf left handed with a good buddy.

Fowler, along with friend and fellow PGA Tour player Cameron Tringale, challenged each other to a left-handed round of golf on Wednesday. We already saw what Fowler can do from the left side during a practice round on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in May.

Here's a glimpse of one of the shots Fowler hit yesterday:

OK, certainly something to be desired with the result, but the technique is pretty good.

The final tally? Fowler -- or "Richard Flowers" -- 110 and Tringale -- or "Mac Triangles" 117. Not bad at all. And, based on this picture of the front-nine scores, it looks like the two may have been writing left-handed too:

Finally, here's a photo of the two competitors after the round:

 

Fowler, Tringale play 18 holes left handed