WINDERMERE, Fla. (AP) — The lost year for Tiger Woods because of back issues can be illustrated by three results from the Hero World Challenge.
While he tied for last place in the 18-man field, it was Woods’ highest finish in the nine tournaments he entered in 2014. The tie for 17th topped his previous best, which was a tie for 25 in the World Golf Championship at Doral.
Woods earned $102,500, his biggest paycheck of the year (on the golf course). In the seven PGA Tour events he entered, Woods made $108,275.
He was awarded 3.16 points toward the world ranking, his second-highest points from any tournament this year. Woods received 3.58 points from Doral. For the year, Woods received 9.729 points, the fewest of any player from the top 200 in the world.
A NEW SPONSOR: The Ladies European Tour concludes its season in Dubai with a new sponsor that Laura Davies hopes will bring the circuit some more attention.
Swiss-based Omega continued to expand its presence in golf when it announced a 10-year partnership with the LET. The partnership includes Omega being the official timekeeper and the sponsor of the tour’s award for rookie of the year. It already is the title sponsor of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, and it recently signed a personal endorsement deal with English teenager Charley Hull.
”We get big companies like Omega involved, that’s a step forward,” Davies said. ”Because other multinational companies want to be involved with other multinational companies, so hopefully that will draw in some more big support, especially for the LET – more television for us. I know that’s one of the things our chief executive is trying to do, and if we get much more live TV, I think everything gets elevated.”
In recent years, Omega struck up a partnership with the PGA of America and the Ryder Cup (when it is played in America). It is title sponsor for two European Tour events (Switzerland and Dubai) and the finale on the LET.
Hull is the youngest in an Omega stable that includes Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Greg Norman, along with Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis.
Hull, a star for Europe in its first Solheim Cup victory in America last year, narrowly missed out on her full LPGA Tour card last week and received only conditional status. The 18-year-old is on the cusp of winning the LET money title going into Dubai.
”It is important to the brand that we show our appreciation of golf as a while, and we are happy to bring greater attention to the professional women golfers who are taking the game to a new, exciting level,” Omega President Stephen Urquhart said.
ANOTHER AWARD: Europeans had such a banner year in the big events that their winning Ryder Cup team – normally the story of the year in golf – finished third in media voting for the Golf Writers Trophy.
The British-based Association of Golf Writers voted Rory McIlroy as the winner for the second time in three years. McIlroy was the overwhelming choice after winning two majors (the British Open and PGA Championship), a World Golf Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
The Golf Writers Trophy is awarded to the European who has made the most outstanding contribution to the sport.
Martin Kaymer was runner-up after his wire-to-wire, eight-shot victory in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, along with his victory in The Players Championship.
The Ryder Cup team, which had an easy time beating the United States at Gleneagles, finished third.
BUBBA FLOWER BED: This might have been the first time Bubba Watson had a flower bed named after him.
The weekend before the Hero World Challenge, someone sent the two-time Masters champion a photo from the seventh hole at Isleworth. One of the residents gave Watson the ultimate tribute by fashioning flowers to spell ”BUBBA” on the right side of the fairway.
Watson, a member at Isleworth, said he plays in the money games with the neighbor and ”he’s pulling for a guy who lives here.”
”He didn’t ask me. He did it just for this week,” Watson said. ”Somebody sent me a picture on Saturday or Sunday and said, `Hey, look at the flower bed.’ That’s the only time I knew about it. I thought it was funny. It would be like you doing something for your buddy or someone you like. I think he likes me.”
DIVOTS: Patrick Reed is in alternate for the second straight week. After filling in for Jim Furyk at the Hero World Challenge, Reed is replacing Chris Kirk at the Franklin-Templeton Shootout. Reed, who earned $212,500 last week at Isleworth, will be partners with Brandt Snedeker. … Chris Kirk had a familiar face in his pro-am last week at the Hero World Challenge – his regular caddie. Bill Harke, who returns to the bag next month in Kapalua, was asked to play in the pro-am at Isleworth by Harry You, for whom Harke once caddied at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Just their luck, they drew Kirk as their pro.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Rory McIlroy (25), Jason Day (27), Jordan Spieth (21) and Rickie Fowler (25) are all among the top 10 in the world ranking.
FINAL WORD: ”I hadn’t played in four months. To come out here and not play in any kind of pain is great progress, and to be able to hit the ball as hard as I want really without flinching.” – Tiger Woods after the fourth round of the Hero World Challenge. It was his first tournament in four months after taking time off to strengthen the muscle structure in his back.
FINAL WORD IN RETROSPECT: ”The back is great. I had no issues at all. No twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That’s one of the reasons why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there.” – Tiger Woods after the first round of the Quicken Loans National. It was his first tournament in three months after back surgery.