Oct 02

Tiger Woods’ former caddie open to part-time reunion

Steve Williams is done as a full-time caddie. It's the reason Williams and Adam Scott have stopped working together. However, the Kiwi caddie would be willing to loop on a part-time basis. In particular, Williams would be open to one last run with his previous employer: Tiger Woods.

“He’s definitely someone I’d consider," Williams told the Associated Press. "He’s a tremendous talent, but it’s hard to say right now because it’s only two weeks since I’ve hung up the clubs.”

Woods fired Williams in July 2011, just a month after Williams caddied for Scott at the U.S. Open at Congressional. Woods was out of the event with an injury, leaving Williams with nothing to do. Scott, without a caddie after parting ways with Tony Navarro, needed someone with Williams' talents. The two paired up at Congressional for what both likely believed was a one-week affair. 

However, Woods didn't take kindly to Williams finding side work and ditched him after a dozen years and 13 majors won together. Scott and Williams became a full-time team. When Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational later that summer, Williams celebrated obnoxiously and acted like he won the tournament, maybe marking the first time ever the caddie had a post-tournament news conference. Woods eventually settled on Joe LaCava as his caddie. 

Williams made several comments about Woods after revelations of his extramarital relationships became public in late 2009 and early 2010.

At a golf-tournament function in Nov. 2011, Williams made a racially charged remark about Woods. Speaking about his WGC celebration, Williams reportedly said, "I wanted to shove it up that black (expletive)."

Woods and Williams shared a post-round handshake at the 2013 Open Championship when Scott and Woods were paired together in the final round at Muirfield in what seemed to observers as close as Woods would ever get to a public make-up with his former caddie.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 01

One big change is coming to the 2016 Ryder Cup selection process

Expect the PGA of America to make a number of changes to their entire approach toward the Ryder Cup.

What those changes will be and how sweeping we'll consider them remains to be seen, but PGA of America president Ted Bishop said Tuesday they will not be made in hasty reaction to the third-straight American loss and the ensuing vocal displeasure of Phil Mickelson about Tom Watson's captaincy.

However, one change, at least for 2016, is all but a certainty. The '16 PGA Championship will be played the last week of July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympic program later that summer. Traditionally, the season's final major is the cutoff to determine the players that automatically qualify for the American Ryder Cup team. With the change in date, a different event is likely to assume that important spot.

“There is no way, in my opinion, you can announce the automatic qualifiers two months before the Ryder Cup,” said Bishop.

That means it's likely the 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs will take on even more importance, with one event the last to determine which players qualify on points and another the final event to get into the conversation for the to-be-determined captain's wild-card picks.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 01

Rory McIlroy wins peer-voted PGA Tour Player of the Year

When Rory McIlroy sank the final putt at Valhalla in August to win the PGA Championship, his fourth major title and second in a row, he locked up the PGA Tour Player of the Year award. 

The formality of announcing the final vote of McIlroy's peers was done Wednesday, with the Northern Irishman landing the honor for the second time. He previously won the award in 2012 when he won his first PGA Championship title at Kiawah Island.

McIlroy won the Open Championship and aforementioned PGA, with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational sandwiched in as part of a dominance-establishing three-event win streak late in the summer. In 17 PGA Tour starts this past season, McIlroy finished in the top 10 in 12 of them. In addition, he won the BMW PGA Championship in May, the European Tour's flagship event.

The PGA Tour does not release the final tally of votes cast by its players for the honor, but it's safe to say McIlroy was on an overwhelming number of ballots. 

"It's a very important honor for players to be voted Player of the Year by your peers," McIlroy said in a Wednesday morning teleconference announcing the award. "They're the guys that you're trying to beat week in, week out, and the other guys see you put the hard work in, and to know that they appreciate what you've put into it and how well that you've played, it's a great honor and a great honor to win twice in the space of three years, and hopefully I can win it for many more years to come."

McIlroy joins rare company with the win, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Nick Price as the only players to win the award multiple times since it was first awarded in 1990.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 30

Tiger Woods to open restaurant in Jupiter, Fla.

Tiger Woods found a tougher business than golf-course design: owning a restaurant. 

A Jupiter, Fla., development called Harbourside Place and Woods jointly announced Tuesday he'll be the owner of a new restaurant opening in his adopted hometown called the The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club. The 5,900-square-foot restaurant will open in the first quarter of 2015.

“I envision a place where people can meet friends, watch sports on TV and enjoy a great meal,” Woods said in a news release. “I wanted to build it locally where I live and where it could help support the community.”

Woods has a little time on his hands to be intimiately involved in the development of the restaurant. The 14-time major winner will not compete again until his World Challenge event in Orlando in December. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 30

Three radical suggestions to improve America’s Ryder Cup chances

You can pin the blame on whoever or whatever you want, but the fact remains the American Ryder Cup team lost its third-straight biennial match against Europe on Sunday in Scotland. That ties the longest American losing streak, matching the stretch from 2002-06 when the Europeans twice beat the U.S. by record, embarrassing 18.5-9.5 counts.

Tom Watson didn't work, with the complete picture why still to be revealed.

Three captain's picks didn't work, as two (Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan) contributed very little to the overall effort.

Something has to change, and it seems toggling the captain and the number of guys he can hand-pick for the team may not be the answer. Let's try something else. Try on these three suggestions for size.

1. Shorten the qualifying period to just eight months: Americans qualify for the Ryder Cup team over a two-year period, earning points weighted toward events in the second year of the cycle (a smart change made by Paul Azinger). However, this approach still doesn't identify the hot hands, so to speak. Throw out the two-year cycle and shorten it from Jan. 1 the year of the competition through the end of the PGA Championship. This way, only players who have stood out when it matters most make the team on points.

2. Name a player in his late 30s captain: Until 65-year-old Tom Watson got the call, the PGA of Amerca's formula for picking Ryder Cup captains sided with modest major winners in their late 40s (Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Corey Pavin, etc.). The PGA wants guys with an impressive-enough CV that are still somewhat in touch with their younger peers. The PGA has it wrong. Majors don't matter and don't decide if a captain will be any good at the job. Ask Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie or Bernard Gallacher. Instead, identify a driven, smart player who sees their best days behind them and the opportunity to mastermind a U.S. victory as their career highlight.

3. Let the players pick the captain: The European Tour has this one right. They've architected a system whereby the equiavlent of their commissioner and the last three European captains, plus one more player, pick future Ryder Cup leaders. It's a form of succession planning that carries through in who is named a vice-captain for each team. Rather than ushering in a new administration with each successive American captain, name a cabinet of guys that will work together to get this thing figured out. They can all take turns as ceremonial captain, but this group would ultimately be one unit dedicated to turning the tide. 

What would you recommend the U.S. and PGA of America do to make a stronger Ryder Cup team?


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 30

Handicapping the contenders to be 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain

Tom Watson didn't get the job done. The Americans lost their third-consecutive Ryder Cup on Sunday in Scotland, and the defeat had many fans, including PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel, demanding 2008 captain Paul Azinger get the job again.

Azinger was the last man to guide the U.S. to a Ryder Cup win, using what he termed the Pod system to group players, build camaraderie and make matchups that ultimately took down the Nick Faldo-led European side after consecutive 18.5-9.5 embarrassments in '04 and '06.

While Azinger would probably do a splendid, if not successful, job in the role again, there are others patiently waiting in line to captain the sinking American ship. Without making another Titanic reference, let's assess the other contenders.

Steve Stricker: When Tom Watson named the Wisconsin native as an assistant captain, it originally seemed maybe Watson was extending an olive branch to Tiger Woods by putting his good buddy (and occasional putting coach) on the team in a non-playing capacity. However, maybe Watson saw something in Stricker that suggested he might make a great captain sooner than later.

David Toms: Before Tom Watson was revealed as 2014 captain, the conventional wisdom had the 2001 PGA champion slotted for the job sooner than later. Watson may have delayed that opportunity by two years, maybe four. Toms should get his day, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The LSU product wouldn't be drastic enough of a change to spur much reaction from fans or Toms' peers.

Fred Couples: Boom-Boom wouldn't be a shocking pick in one regard: He's guided the U.S. to three consecutive victories in the Presidents Cup. His tenure was a complete success, and the players love to play for him. However, the Presidents Cup is the PGA Tour's event, and, while the PGA Tour and PGA of America are getting along better than ever, a cross-pollinating captain seems unlikely.

Larry Nelson: Nelson is a three-time major champion and has been snubbed for the captain's job for two decades. However, the failure of the Watson experiment makes it all the tougher to see the PGA of America finally giving Nelson, who went 5-0-0 in the 1979 Ryder Cup, his due. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.