Welcome to Friday!
Hopefully you’re all feeling better than I am, because having just gotten over a cold a few weeks ago, I now have another one. That’s not fair!
Here’s the Cheat Sheet.
Tiger Woods withdraws in Dubai due to back spasms
Well, this is unfortunate, but predictable if you watched any of the first round of the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic:
WD watch right now, to be honest.
— Jay Rigdon (@jayrigdon5) February 2, 2017
I tweeted that 17 minutes into his opening round. Tiger did finish, shooting a 77, but then prior to round two we got the news:
Tiger Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday morning before even beginning play due to a back spasm he began suffering following dinner on Thursday night.
Steinberg said the problem is not related to the nerve issues that have plagued the 14-time major champion over the past few years and that have resulted in three surgeries, the last coming in August 2015.
“He says it’s not the nerve pain that’s kept him out for so long,” Steinberg said at Emirates Golf Club, where Woods did not even start the second round.
Woods, 41, was being paid a 7-figure appearance fee to play in the tournament, the first time he has ventured to the Middle East for an event in three years.
That last part is the key, because there’s no way Tiger even tees it up at all if he hadn’t had that on the line. Watching him warm up on Golf Channel prior to the first round, his swing looked off. And right from the first tee box, that speculation began:
Tiger's 1st tee shot. He's been walking a little … slow? stiff? I dunno. pic.twitter.com/RRvUnqfwJB
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) February 2, 2017
And the results weren’t much better. Here’s where that first drive ended up, for example:
…and where that ball ended up pic.twitter.com/1lMdu9Xn2E
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) February 2, 2017
It was bad. It’s entirely possible that this really is just a short term thing, wholly unrelated to Tiger’s prior back issues. But at this point, why in the world should we believe anything he or his representatives say? Here’s what Tiger said right after the round:
“No, I wasn’t in pain at all,” Woods said when asked directly about it after the first round. “I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a very good job.”
Now, on the one hand, that’s an admirable refusal to make an excuse. Some golfers (hi Jason Day!) wouldn’t have waited to tell us about the pain they were in. But on the other hand, who knows how serious it is? It’s scary, and sad, but chronic back injuries for professional golfers are just the worst, and few players put their bodies through the stress Tiger did over the years.
I wrote about this exact possibility back in December, and how this comeback was such an important one:
His body has undergone procedure after procedure, and it’s fair to think years of abuse may have lowered his ceiling. And back problems can arise at any time.
Tiger can’t come back now, struggle or get hurt, and then disappear for another year. That’d be it. There’d be no more mystique, no more inherent assumption that he’ll still be back one day, competing for wins.
This is the last time people give Tiger Woods credit for having been Tiger Woods, and he has to know that, too.
Hopefully I’m wrong, and he tees it up at Riviera in a few weeks and looks great. But how can that be anything but the exception at this point?
-Gregg Popovich is amazingly eloquent, even while speaking relatively off the cuff. He talked about the importance of Black History Month, and frankly, I’m just about convinced that he’s one of the most important voices not just in sports, but anywhere.
-Winner and losers from college football’s national signing day.
-Dave Lozo wonders why NHL players won’t speak out against Donald Trump’s policies.
-Hal Steinbrenner says sooner or later we forget about things like Aroldis Chapman’s domestic violence issues.
-Here’s a time lapse of the northern lights as seen from an airliner:
I think we needed that.
-Antonio Brown trolled Pat McAfee in the best of ways.
-Five previously ranked teams that might miss the NCAA tournament, and yes, I know Indiana is one of them. What a ridiculous season for the Hoosiers. Not sure a team could be unluckier with injuries or results, combined with some horrendous play at times.
-Donald Trump calls Roger Goodell a stupid guy, which, well, pot and kettle, I guess. (Though in this one instance, he’s not wrong.)
-Speaking of stupid guys, here’s Mike Ditka going off all over the place. Spencer Hall nicely summed up my thoughts on how much weight we should lend Mike Ditka’s opinions:
Ditka didn't give Walter Payton a TD in the Super Bowl, his opinions aren't valid here https://t.co/r9ocRPC4lB
— KOBE BUFFALOMEAT (@edsbs) February 3, 2017
-Here’s an interesting if somewhat creepy (and, well, scary) gif of atom bomb tests in the Nevada desert as seen from Las Vegas:
Fake news headline I wish was real
Area Man’s Jeans Go Unwashed For 182nd Consecutive Day
One last glorious moment of procrastination
This is majestic: