Monday, February 29, 2016

Jason Bohn had no idea he was having a major heart attack at Honda

Jason Bohn had no idea he was having a heart attack. 

The 42-year-old was experiencing the symptoms throughout his second round on Friday at The Honda Classic, but he thought they were related to the flu he battled two weeks prior during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

"I would have thought having a heart attack was going to [be] like somebody was slapping me in the face saying, ‘You’re having a heart attack, you need to stop doing what you’re doing, you have to go to the hospital,’" Bohn said in an interview on "Fairways of Life" on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio on Monday. "But for me it wasn’t the case."

After shooting 2-over 72 to make the cut on the number -- an incredible feat unto itself -- Bohn sought on-site medical staff. It was a good thing he did.

“I gotta tell you, the EMTs at the golf course, I mean, they totally saved my life," he said. "They took an EKG when I got done after I signed my scorecard. They just told me that something wasn’t right. They said, ‘Hey, we’d like you to go to the hospital.’ And I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just go shower in my room and then I’ll drive myself to the hospital. I’ll be okay.’ And they were like, ‘No, no, we need to put you on a stretcher, we need to go to the hospital right now.’"

Bohn was found to have a 99 percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery, also called the "widow maker" artery because of its tendency to produce major heart attacks. A stent was inserted to help the blockage. 

Doctors at the medical center told Bohn that had he collapsed during the round, they likely wouldn't have been able to save his life.

"I got one hell of a mulligan, Matt," Bohn said to host Matt Adams. "That’s all I can say.”

Bohn is uncertain of when he'll be able to return to play, with his doctors telling him heart is still weak and blood pressure is low. He may be able to fly home to Georgia on Tuesday. When he does get back on the PGA Tour, Bohn hopes to return better than ever.

"So I know that this isn’t going to take me down and I’ve got a second chance," he said. "Like I said, it’s always, when you drop that mulligan, that second ball is always better than the first ball. So I look forward to my return and I really feel like I’m going to come out of this a lot stronger than I have.”


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

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John Daly to make PGA Tour Champions debut in May

John Daly is on the verge of 50, and now he has an official start date on PGA Tour Champions. 

Daly will make his debut on the nee Senior PGA Tour, erstwhile Champions Tour, at the Insperity Invitational from May 6-8 at The Woodlands Golf Club in The Woodlands, Texas -- former home of the Shell Houston Open.

The two-time major winner turns 50 on April 28, qualifying for the senior circuit, of sorts. In early February, Daly played in the pro-am for the tour's Allianz Championship and shot some promotional materials for his debut. 

Daly should be an instant hit on a circuit that promotes quality access to great players, including Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples and Kenny Perry. 

The 1991 PGA and 1995 British Open champion made 10 starts on the PGA Tour last season, making the cut twice. Most weeks on PGA Tour Champions there is no cut, so fans will get to see Daly play in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere for three days. 

That sounds like a formula for success for Daly.


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

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Nicklaus: Tiger Woods in 'good health' during Ryder Cup dinner

Tiger Woods supplied the golf world last week with some video evidence to suggest he has "progressed nicely" from a pair of back surgeries in fall of 2015.

Jack Nicklaus, the man whose majors record Woods is ultimately still chasing, saw the 14-time major winner up close and in person last week, and he reports Woods is looking pretty good these days.

Nicklaus, along with wife Barbara, hosted U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, his assistant captains, including Woods, and a number of prospective Ryder Cup players (though the reason to not invite Justin Thomas is baffling) to a team-building dinner Thursday night of The Honda Classic. 

"He looked very healthy and he really misses playing. So that's good," said Nicklaus on Sunday.

"He says he was feeling great, and he was able to stand over a putt and chip now without having any leg pain and so forth."

The dinner, at the Nicklaus' home, consisted of steak, shrimp and lobster, among other things. While the two legends were able to have a conversation, as well address the group, Nicklaus said he wasn't given any kind of timeline for when we'll see Woods compete again.

However, Nicklaus did tell Woods, as he has said publicly in the past, that he wants the 40-year-old to have a fair shot at his 18-major mark.

“I’ve told Tiger many times, and I told him again the other night, I said, ‘You know, Tiger, nobody wants their records to be broken. But I don’t want you to not have the ability to have that opportunity to do so by your health,’” Nicklaus said. “‘So I wish you well, and I hope you get healthy, hope you get to play, hope you get out there as soon as you feel like you can play, and I hope you do well.’”


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

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Gary Woodland strips to underwear to hit shot at The Honda Classic

Gary Woodland didn't hit the best tee shot on the sixth hole at PGA National's Champion Course on Sunday at The Honda Classic. In fact, his ball wound up in a water hazard.

But it wasn't such a bad tee shot that he couldn't hit his ball again without a wardrobe adjustment.

So, Woodland took off his socks, shoes and pants to hit his second shot only wearing his golf shirt and underwear. The shot wound up in a greenside bunker, but Woodland was able to get up-and-down for a par.

He put on his pants in time for the bunker shot. After the par, Woodland was even on the round through six holes on a tough scoring day.


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

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For Sergio Garcia, a win is a win, no matter if it's on the PGA Tour

For Sergio Garcia, a win feels the same no matter where it is or who it's against.

After getting into contention to win The Honda Classic, Garcia dismissed the notion that a win on the PGA Tour -- where he hasn't won since the 2012 Wyndham Championship -- counts any more than a win on the European or Asian tours.

"There’s something that I don’t like, and when I hear guys say, ‘Oh, yeah, you won in Vietnam, or you won in Qatar (in 2014), but you haven’t won on the PGA Tour,’” Garcia said. “It feels like, you know, those wins don’t mean anything and it’s such a wrong comment."

Garcia won the Asian Tour's Ho Tram Open in Vietnam in December. He regards that the same as any of his other 27 worldwide wins.

“Every win, every victory is difficult. It doesn’t matter, even if it’s against your father in your home course. Every single victory is tough,” he added. “The victory in Vietnam wasn’t easy. I had to play well to get that. And the victory in Qatar, same thing.”

Garcia, who shares the 54-hole lead with Adam Scott, is seeking a ninth PGA Tour win on Sunday at PGA National.


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

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Jason Bohn had stent inserted after heart attack for major blockage

When Jason Bohn suffered a heart attack on Friday after the second round of The Honda Classic, it was initially reported that the 42-year-old had a minor episode.

However, Bohn told NBC Sports on Saturday that was not the case. Doctors found Bohn had a 99 percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery -- known as the "widow maker" as a blockage in it has a tendency to lead to a major heart attack. 

Bohn also told the network via text message that he had been dealing with bronchitis and pneumonia.

The heart attack happened after Bohn shot 72 in the second round to make the cut on the number. He experienced chest pains and asked for medical staff to assist him. He was taken by ambulance to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.

There's no word yet when Bohn will be released from the hospital.


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

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Donald Trump will appear at next week's WGC at Doral

Donald Trump will be on site at next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at his Trump Doral resort outside of Miami. However, the Republican presidential frontrunner won't be as visible as in years past.

 "I’ll be there very limited because I have the Secret Service," Trump said, according to the Miami Herald. "But I’ll be there.”

Since Trump bought the resort in 2012, he has been a prominent fixture during tournament week at the WGC. He's usually involved in the trophy presentation and has been visible and available for media and supporters alike. In 2015, he hired a diver to recover the 3-iron Rory McIlroy chucked into one of the Blue Monster's many water hazards in anger. 

Things have changed in 2016, however, with Trump looking more and more as the likely Republican presidential nominee. With a Secret Service security detail in tow, Trump's presence on the property could not only become a logistical nightmare but also distract heavily from the tournament.

Trump may well only appear at the tournament for the final round, which will be five days after the Super Tuesday series of primaries that could all but lock up the GOP nomination for the real estate mogul.


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

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After hot start, Scott's putter cooled at Northern Trust Open

Adam Scott came out of the gate on Sunday at the Northern Trust Open with a hot putter.

No, a really hot putter. 

Scott made more than 100 feet of putts in the first six holes at Riviera, playing the first third of his round in 5 under par. He looked ready to pick up his first PGA Tour win since he retook No. 1 in the world at Colonial in 2014.

Then on the eighth hole, Scott struggled to reach the green in four shots, missing a 5-foot putt for bogey. The double bogey stunted but didn't kill Scott's momentum. What did Scott in was a pair of misses from inside 5 feet on the 14th and 15th holes, leading to bogeys. 

Scott did his best to rally, making a birdie on the par-5 17th before chipping in for a closing birdie from back of the green at No. 18. However, the Aussie came up one shot short of Bubba Watson, who won the PGA Tour's Los Angeles-area event for the second time in three years.

Ahead of the ban on the anchored stroke which took effect on Jan. 1, Scott ditched the broomstick putter and went to a counterbalanced model in the hopes of somewhat replicating the successes he had with the long wand. Then again, Scott never found complete confidence with the anchored stroke. He's had reason to feel encouraged since making the switch, with now a second runner-up finish in four official PGA Tour starts this season.

Perhaps the best sign of all? While the putter was friend and foe on Sunday, Scott's performance moved him up from 195th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting to 74th. 


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

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Bubba Watson has one-shot edge through 3 rounds at Riviera

Bubba Watson is in position to win the Northern Trust Open for a second time in three years. However, to do that on Sunday at Riviera, he's going to have to hold off a trio of golf's other biggest names.

Watson shot 4-under 67 in the third round on Saturday to take a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie and 36-hole leader Jason Kokrak. The two-time Masters winner's 12-under 201 total has him two clear of five players, including Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi, Marc Leishman and Kevin Chappell. 

The Bagdad, Fla., native wasn't particularly accurate off the tee in the third round, hitting less than half of the fairways. He also missed six greens. However, Watson only carded one bogey on the day against five birdies. 

Watson took advantage of his length on the par 5s, making easy birdies out of each of the three on the course. The other two birdies came after dart-like approach shots inside of 9 feet. 

However, it was a par save that kept Watson in the lead heading into Sunday. He missed well right of the green with his second into the 18th and has to play his third from near a scoreboard. Watson pulled off the tough shot, leaving himself a tricky 3-footer for par, which he holed.

Now the question for Watson is if he can make the rare conversion of a 54-hole lead into his ninth PGA Tour win. In his career, Watson is just 2-for-9 when he sleeps on a share of the Saturday night lead.

Going further against Watson's chances? The Northern Trust Open winner in each of the last four years has trailed going into the final round.


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

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Golfers show support for ending 'modern-day' slavery at Honda Classic

Ahead of Thursday's first round at The Honda Classic, several PGA Tour players marked Shine a Light on Slavery Day, organized by what's dubbed the End It Movement, an organization committed to raising awareness about modern-day slavery around the world.

The organization estimates some 27 million people worldwide are held in slavery or slavery-like conditions. The day was started to raise public awareness to this issue, with the campaign teaming up with public figures, who wear a red X on the tops of their hands. 

Among those participating in the campaign, TaylorMade-adidas staffers Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Stewart Cink showed their support on Twitter with images of the red X marks on their hands.


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

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Rory McIlroy misses cut again at The Honda Classic

Rory McIlroy won't be playing the weekend at The Honda Classic for the second year in a row.

McIlroy shot 2-over 72 for the second consecutive day at PGA National's Champion Course to miss the cut by a shot. The four-time major winner did not make himself available to media after the round.

The Ulsterman has developed a reputation as a player who handles windy conditions poorly, precisely what he faced during the first two days at what amounts to his hometown tournament. However, McIlroy found ways to score at the Champion Course in his two rounds. McIlroy made nine birdies, but they were offset by a triple bogey, two double bogeys and six bogeys. 

The world No. 3 has a mixed record in this event after winning in 2012.

In 2013, McIlroy withdrew part way through the second round, citing a dental issue that he later admitted really wasn't the motivating factor. Rather, poor scoring led him to pull out.

A year later, McIlroy had an opportunity to win in the final round but played the final two-thirds of the Bear Trap (hole Nos. 15-17) in 3 over par. He lost in a four-man playoff.

Now he has missed the cut in each of the last two years.


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

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Jason Bohn recovering after mild heart attack at The Honda Classic

Jason Bohn is recovering in a Palm Beach Gardens area hospital on Saturday morning after suffering a mild heart attack on Friday at The Honda Classic.

After Bohn shot 2-over 72 at PGA National's Champion Course, the 42-year-old started to feel chest pain and sought the on-site medical staff. He was transported by ambulance to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for testing, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a heart attack. He was brought to stable condition and kept overnight for observation and further testing. Bohn withdrew from the tournament.

On Saturday morning, the PGA Tour shared an update on Bohn's condition, saying he was in "great spirits" after sleeping through the night. Further tests will be done through the day.

The Pennsylvania-born Bohn has enjoyed a great start to this PGA Tour season. In his first four starts of the 2015-16 season, Bohn had three top-three finishes, including a playoff loss at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.


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

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Adam Scott sent ex-R&A head man long putter as retirement gift

Behind the sunglasses and stoic looks, Adam Scott has a good sense of humor.

With the start of the anchoring ban in 2016, all of the long and belly putters Scott has used since going to the anchored putting stroke in 2011 became, to him, scrap metal. So, Scott decided to have a little fun with one, sending retired R&A head man Peter Dawson a long putter as a gag.

"I actually sent one to Peter Dawson for his retirement," Scott said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Dawson was one of golf's leaders at the forefront of pushing the anchoring ban. Scott nearly won the 2012 British Open using the anchored long putter. However, down the stretch, he dropped a four-shot lead to lose to Ernie Els, who instead won with an anchored belly putter. Scott ultimately won his major at the 2013 Masters.

Scott said he didn't remember the note he sent to Dawson, but he did recall the Brit's reaction.

"He said he greatly appreciated the gesture," Scott said with a smile. "He said he'd put it with all the other obsolete clubs."


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

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Donald Trump will appear at next week's WGC at Doral

Donald Trump will be on site at next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at his Trump Doral resort outside of Miami. However, the Republican presidential frontrunner won't be as visible as in years past.

 "I’ll be there very limited because I have the Secret Service," Trump said, according to the Miami Herald. "But I’ll be there.”

Since Trump bought the resort in 2012, he has been a prominent fixture during tournament week at the WGC. He's usually involved in the trophy presentation and has been visible and available for media and supporters alike. In 2015, he hired a diver to recover the 3-iron Rory McIlroy chucked into one of the Blue Monster's many water hazards in anger. 

Things have changed in 2016, however, with Trump looking more and more as the likely Republican presidential nominee. With a Secret Service security detail in tow, Trump's presence on the property could not only become a logistical nightmare but also distract heavily from the tournament.

Trump may well only appear at the tournament for the final round, which will be five days after the Super Tuesday series of primaries that could all but lock up the GOP nomination for the real estate mogul.


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

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Report: Tiger Woods hitting drivers in addition to other clubs

The Tiger Woods news turned quickly in the last few days from a stream to a flood.

A day after the 14-time major winner shared a video of himself hitting a 9-iron into a simulator, a new report suggests Woods' progress has made it deeper through the bag. Golf World reporter Tim Rosaforte shared Thursday that Woods is now hitting driver.

All of this progress comes after a Monday report from golf journalist Robert Lusetich citing a source which said Woods had faced a setback in his recovery from a pair of Fall 2015 back surgeries. The source said Woods, who hasn't played on the PGA Tour since the Wyndham Championship in August, had difficulty sitting and walking for an extended period, and that he had to be transported by car laying in a fully reclined passenger seat.

Woods felt hip pain that week at the Wyndham, in which he ended up tied for 10th place in his best finish of the season. However, after the Wyndham, Woods visited his surgeon in Utah and discovered the source of the pain was the same spot on his back where, in March 2014, he had a microdiscectomy performed. In September, a second microdiscectomy as performed. A month later, a follow-up procedure to clean up complications from the September surgery was done.

In December at his Hero World Challenge, Woods lamented his current physical status. He said he had made no progress in rehab other than to rest and walk for small chunks of time.

While there's now evidence -- video and anecdotal -- that Woods can again swing a golf club, there's been nothing to suggest Woods can do it at full speed or repeatedly for a full range session. There's no reason to suggest an imminent return date.


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

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jason Kokrak leads Northern Trust Open in search of 1st win

Jason Kokrak is starting to figure out how to play Riviera Country Club. 

On Friday at the Northern Trust Open, Kokrak had his best round yet on Hogan's Alley near Los Angeles, shooting 7-under 64 in a round in which he birdied all of the par 5s on the course.

"It's been a struggle to learn how to play this golf course," said Kokrak, who is at 10-under 132. "It's old school. It's very hard. But it's right there in front of you. If I can hit the driver a little bit straighter and keep it in the fairway, it's a huge advantage for me."

The long-hitting Kokrak hasn't finished inside the top 30 in four previous Northern Trust Open starts. However, this course does lend itself nicely to longer players who can find the fairway. Just look at Kokrak's pursuers. While Chez Reavie is a shot behind at 9 under par, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson lurk along with Troy Merritt in a tie for third two back of Kokrak. Then there's a large group of players at 6 under par, including Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, guys who don't lack for length.

If the 30-year-old Canadian-born Kokrak is to get his first PGA Tour win this weekend, he's going to have to get past a gauntlet of equally long, better credentialed players.

However, Kokrak won't have to deal with the likes of Jordan Spieth this weekend. After Spieth opened with 8-over 79 on Thursday, the world No. 1 shot 68 on Friday that left him five off the cut line. 


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

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Tiger Woods tweets video swinging a golf club, claims progress

Tiger Woods dropped the mic on Twitter on Wednesday morning. 

Three days after a report suggested Woods had faced a setback in his recovery from a pair of fall back surgeries, Woods tweeted a video of himself hitting a 9-iron into a simulator. Accompanying the video was the phrase, "Progressing nicely."

On Monday, golf reporter Robert Lusetich tweeted Woods' condition had regressed, citing a source which said Woods was struggling to sit at all, was being transported via car with the passenger seat fully reclined and had trouble walking for extended periods of time. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, vehemently denied the veracity of the report. 

A conflicting report emerged from Tim Rosaforte, who spoke with Davis Love III and Notah Begay III, both of which who told Rosaforte that Woods was, in fact, making progress in his rehabilitation.

The Woods video makes it clear the 14-time major winner can at least swing a golf club, which is a big step forward compared to where Woods said he was in December at the Hero World Challenge. At that time, Woods seemed morose about his future prospects and said there was "no timeline" for his recovery.

This video doesn't offer any clue as to when Woods will return to competitive golf, but it is an indication that he has made strides. 


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

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mickelson: No current player is 'remotely close' to Tiger Woods' level

Phil Mickelson keeps close tabs on the young bucks in the next generation of world-class touring pros. He has befriended and mentored them, and he has played against them in Tuesday matches that have become the stuff of legend. 

However, so far, Mickelson hasn't seen any current player that is even in the same league as rival Tiger Woods.

"There is nobody in the game that I have seen that is remotely close to the level of performance Tiger was in his prime," Mickelson told Golf.com in an interview

"Mentally, short game, or ball striking, I don’t think anybody matches him in any of those areas. And Tiger put them all together in one to create a career that is mind-boggling in the game of golf."

Mickelson has conceded Woods got the best of him for the first decade-plus of the 14-time major winner's career. However, the left-hander believes he has gotten the better of Woods since about 2007. In terms of major wins, Mickelson leads in that span by a 3-to-2 count.

As for who will become the next Tiger Woods, Mickelson isn't so sure that's on the horizon.

"As great as the young players are, the level that I've seen out of [Woods], especially when you go back to 2000 at the U.S. Open and his performance when he held all four major championships at once," he said, "I think we're decades away from anybody getting back to that level."


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

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R&A chief: Trump's Turnberry is not out of the British Open rotation

Let the R&A be clear: Donald Trump's Turnberry is not out of the British Open rotation.

Meeting with reporters on Monday, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the Scottish resort, which Trump bought in 2014 for $55 million, has not been excluded from hosting future Opens despite the Republican presidential frontrunner's suggestion that Muslims should be temporarily banned from entering the United States. 

“That pool has not changed," Slumbers said. "Turnberry is still part of that pool of courses.”

However, Slumbers said the Ailsa Course, which is being renovated as part of Trump's promised $285 million investment in the resort, will not host the game's oldest major before 2022.

“We have announced venues out to 2019,” Slumbers said, according to Golfweek. “We are in advanced negotiations around 2020 and 2021, one of which will be in England because we like to get a balance between English courses and Scottish courses.

“At no point during those discussions has Turnberry been part of that, so that’s where we are at the moment, and 2022 and beyond is something we don’t have to think about for a few years."

Turnberry is one of 10 courses in the current Open rotation. It last hosted the championship for the fourth time in 2009, when Stewart Cink defeated then-59-year-old Tom Watson in a four-hole playoff.


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A different report claims Tiger Woods is 'progressing' in recovery

A day after a report claimed Tiger Woods has faced a setback in his recovery from a pair of fall back surgeries, there is conflicting information about the status of his health.

Golf World and Golf Channel reporter Tim Rosaforte said Monday that he had spoked with 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and Woods' Stanford teammate and friend Notah Begay III, with both saying Woods was improving, not regressing.

"He's making progress," said Love, who has appointed Woods as an assistant captain for the upcoming biennial matches in Minnesota.

"He is starting to move like he's human again," said Begay, who is also a NBC and Golf Channel analyst.

Those words seem to contradict a report from golf journalist Robert Lusetich, who said on Twitter that Woods is having difficulty with his back, is unable to sit and is transported in a car by lying in a fully reclined passenger seat. An anonymous Twitter account called Secret Tour Pro first made claims like Lusetich's, but the account lacks credibility because of the lack of a name associated with the account.

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, vehemently denied Woods has faced a setback.

"The tweets that appeared this weekend about Tiger's health are ridiculous and absolutely false,'' Steinberg said in a statement Monday to ESPN. "It's reprehensible that every few months someone makes something up and it's treated like a real story. Tiger continues to work on his rehabilitation and we will have an accurate update at the appropriate time.''

The 14-time major champion is trying to recover from a pair of back surgeries in the fall. In September, Woods underwent a second microdiscectomy surgery on his back after tracing pain felt in his hip at the Wyndham Championship in August to the same area in his back that was operated on in March 2014. A month later, Woods had a second, follow-up procedure related to the first surgery.

In December, Woods said he has no timetable for his return.


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

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Power rankings: The Honda Classic

The PGA Tour kicks off its Florida Swing this week with The Honda Classic. For a number of players, this is a home game, as they call the Palm Beach and Jupiter areas home, including Rory McIlroy, who headlines the field.

Padraig Harrington is defending champion in the unpredictable event, beating Daniel Berger in a Monday playoff last year. 

PGA National's Champion Course almost always produces a dramatic finish, with the Bear Trap, comprising hole Nos. 15-17, typically playing a heavy hand in deciding the winner.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1.  Rickie Fowler -- Fowler almost won in Phoenix. He won in Abu Dhabi. He's hot. Pick him for that and his two top-15s here in the last five years.

2. Rory McIlroy -- A Sunday dud at Riviera shouldn't be that discouraging. McIlroy is playing well anywhere right now, just hasn't closed the deal on a win in 2016. Won here in 2012, holding off Tiger Woods.

3. Hideki Matsuyama -- The Phoenix winner was pretty solid at Riviera, T-11. Nothing fancy here in his Honda record, but he's such a good ballstriker.

4. Adam Scott -- Joint runner-up at Riviera, which is yet another such finish for Scott this season. The putter can be a liability, but he's clearly committed to improving and showed it at Riviera.

5. Phil Mickelson -- Mickelson has showed signs that he's ready to win. He came up short at Pebble and looked great in the Desert. Not a splendid record here but playing well.


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

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Bubba Watson passed a kidney stone days before winning at Riviera

Bubba Watson was a winner on Sunday at Riviera, but the prior Monday, he definitely didn't feel that way.

That's because he was passing a kidney stone.

After winning the Northern Trust Open for the second time in three years, Watson told the story that might make a few of you queasy. 

“So Sunday, I missed the cut at Pebble,” said Watson, who moved to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking with his ninth-career PGA Tour win. “And that Sunday morning playing with the kids, I had to go take a bathroom break, and same thing. Red liquid came out. I said, 'This ain't right.'"

Watson dealt with passing a kidney stone before, five years ago. He knew this could happen again someday.

“So we called the doctor, we called the tournament here," he continued. "They set me up with a place. I landed on Monday morning, went. Did a CT scan and 30 minutes after the CT scan, again, just downing water, thinking it's going to be the same thing.

“Five years ago he said there was one more in my system and obviously it decided this week. My baby came out I guess."

After Monday, his week kept getting better. He spent time with friend and musician Justin Bieber, who gave his son Caleb drum lessons. He taped a cameo on the TV show "Girl Meets World." And he took in a L.A. Clippers game.

And, oh yeah, he won $1.22 million on Sunday.


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

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Report: Tiger Woods' condition post-surgery has worsened

If you got your hopes up that we'd see Tiger Woods at the Masters in April, then a new report might squelch them.

Golf journalist Robert Lusetich, formerly of Fox Sports, reported Monday that Tiger Woods' condition has worsened since a pair of back surgeries in Fall 2015.

The information is similar in nature to what was shared over the weekend by an anonymous Twitter account dubbed the Secret Tour Pro, which claims to be controlled by a top-tier professional golfer. The person behind this account routinely shares information regarding open rumors and secrets in professional golf.

There was reason to doubt this narrative. The account has been wrong about Woods matters in the past, saying last summer that the 14-time major winner had fired instructor Chris Como around the Quicken Loans National. A day after the rumor began to spread because of a Secret Tour Pro tweet, Como showed up on the range at the tournament to work with Woods. 

The account also tweeted a photo in December saying a source claimed it was proof Woods was working on his game on the range at Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla. It turned out to be an old photo of Woods ahead of a pro-am event for The Honda Classic. 

This time, the account has information that jibes with what a journalist has put forth.

Woods underwent a second microdiscectomy in September 2015 in the same region where he first had the procedure done in March 2014. Woods rushed back to compete in the 2014 Quicken Loans National, fared poorly and ultimately found a new swing instructor in Como. The struggles continued in 2015, as Woods shot his career-worst round twice on the PGA Tour. However, he ended the season on a high note, with a T-10 finish at the Wyndham Championship in a last-ditch effort to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

That week in Greensboro, N.C., Woods complained of pain related to his hip. After his season ended, Woods went to visit his surgeon in Utah and learned the source of the pain was again his back. He chose to have surgery. The procedure was not a success, however, requiring a clean-up procedure a month later.

At his Hero World Challenge in December, Woods said he had no timetable for his return and that the only thing he was physically able to do is walk. He hadn't formally started rehab then, and it appears, two months later, he's no closer to whatever level of functionality he could consider a recovery.


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

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