Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Oct. 28.
Tiger ties Snead
The greats can make the routine spectacular, and the spectacular seem routine. In a tournament halfway around the world, during a time most golf fans are in hibernation, we were reminded, once again, no one in modern sports personifies that sentiment like Tiger Woods.
Woods, making his first appearance in three months and first since his fifth career knee surgery, won the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan by three shots over Hideki Matsuyama. A win, his 82nd on the PGA Tour, that ties Sam Snead’s all-time record.
“It’s about being consistent and doing it for a long period of time,” Woods said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the career I’ve had so far.”
A rain-out in Round 2 made the weekend a marathon, a dash that was held in the waning hours of America’s East Coast. Yet Woods, who shared the first-round lead with Gary Woodland with a 64, never relinquished his position, entering Monday morning with a three-shot lead over the field with seven holes left to play.
Woods opened with a bogey at Narashino Country Club’s 12th—let the record show his first-hole jitters apply to restarts as well—but that mistake was negated by a birdie at the 14th. Woods followed with three pars, with an up-and-down birdie, and final-bow fist pump at the 18th, serving as the official coronation.
The scene was not as visceral or breathtaking as East Lake, the moment not as cathartic or emotional as Augusta. When you win 82 times, all will not be made-for-movie scripts. Conversely, Woods made history when few expected him to, in a workman-like manner that belied its blowout fashion. He continues to pen a story no screenwriter could conjure.
The only thing apropos about his performance was his fondness for proving critics wrong. As early as last week, some wondered if Woods was transitioning into the ceremonial player phase of his career. Suppose that’s partially true; trophies are handed out at ceremonies, after all.
“It’s satisfying to dig my way out of it and figure it out, figure out a way,” Woods said. “There are some hard times to figure it out, but I’ve come back with different games over the years.”
And perhaps, for years to come.
Tiger the player impresses Tiger the captain
Speaking of future, Woods’ next likely appearance will be at his Hero World Challenge after the tour’s fall slate. The following week is the Presidents Cup, which Woods is captaining for the United States. Though the 43-year-old was not among the eight automatic qualifiers, he remains a wild-card consideration for one of the four remaining spots.
A spot he has appeared to lock up.
“I think I certainly, as a player, got the captain’s attention,” Woods jokingly said at his post-round press conference.
Or, as Woodland—also a wildcard candidate—framed it: “If he doesn’t [pick himself], he’s dumb.”
Woods has made eight Presidents Cup appearances in his career, the last coming in 2013. His picks are expected to come in the first week of November.
The 2019 Presidents Cup will be played at Royal Melbourne, the site of the only International victory in Presidents Cup history (1998). The biennial event begins Dec. 12.
McCord, Kostis out at CBS
Two mainstays of CBS Sports’ golf broadcast team are not returning in 2020.
The contracts of Gary McCord and Peter Kostis have not been renewed for next season by the network. Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford and Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported the news on Saturday, and CBS confirmed the move to Golf Digest in a statement.
“Gary and Peter have been an important part of our golf coverage for three decades,” said a CBS spokesperson. “They were both outstanding teammates and we thank them for their significant contributions throughout the years. We wish them both all the best.”
Kostis had been with CBS since 1992, working as an on-course reporter. He is most known for his breakdowns of player swings in slow-motion sequences. McCord, a former PGA Tour player, joined CBS in 1986. He rose to prominence thanks to a colorful personality, one that occasionally got him into trouble, most notably earning a ban from broadcasting at the Masters for saying “There are some body bags down there if that keeps going,” when a ball was rolling toward a water hazard, and joking that “bikini wax” was used on Augusta National’s greens.
CBS Sports’ next broadcast is the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January. The network’s contract with the PGA Tour ends in 2021, although CBS is one of multiple entities currently bidding for future media rights.
Surprise winner in Euro Tour finale
Steven Brown was using the Portugal Masters to prepare for an upcoming trip to the European Tour’s Qualifying tournament. His itinerary post-Portugal has dramatically changed.
Entering the week 150th in the Race to Dubai standings, Brown played bogey-free over his last 36 holes—including a five-under final round at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course—to win the Euro Tour regular-season finale by one over Branden Stone and Justin Walters.
The victory means instead of fighting for his tour card in Q-school for the seventh time in eight years, Brown has earned an invite to the postseason, beginning in two weeks at the Turkish Airlines Open.
“You just never know with this game,” Brown said. “It’s crazy to think how well I’ve played the last month to how bad it was the first two-thirds of the year. I never thought this was going to happen … Even today, I liked the fact that I had to go for it and I wasn’t just trying to have a good result. That’s probably the difference.”
Also gaining entry into the playoffs (the top 115 in the Race to Dubai rankings advance) was Walters, who began the week at No. 124. Some of the bubble boys who came on the business end were Paul Dunne, former Ryder Cup player Jamie Donaldson and Lee Slattery. Slattery’s ousting was particularly brutal, as he missed the cut by a shot seven times in 2019.
Koepka (knee) to miss more time
The world’s best will be at the first WGC of the season this week. But the World No. 1 will not.
Brooks Koepka was not among the field commitments to the HSBC Champions on Friday. Koepka aggravated his left knee after slipping on wet concrete during the CJ Cup two weeks ago in South Korea, withdrawing from the event and returning to the United States for further testing. He dropped out of the Zozo Championship in the process yet left open the possibility of playing in the WGC-HSBC.
That Koepka is staying on the sidelines is not a surprise. Following the Tour Championship, Koepka underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially torn patella tendon in that same knee, a procedure he referred to as “extremely painful.” He missed the cut in his first tournament back at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, and indicated in South Korea another stem-cell treatment is on the table.
Koepka is likely out for the remainder of the PGA Tour’s fall slate, and his involvement for December’s Presidents Cup is in doubt. Tiger Woods, who will captain the United States team, said earlier last week he’s been in talks with Brooks about the matter.
“We’re just waiting to see what the surgeons say and see what his protocols will be going forward. That’s something he’ll keep me abreast of going forward,” Woods said. “He’s getting other opinions about where his knee is and what his options are. I went through the same thing with my knee and my back. You want as many opinions as you can before you decide which road you want to go down.”