Tony Finau’s long wait between tournament wins is finally over.
Finau rallied on Monday at Liberty National to win The Northern Trust at Jersey City, NJ, beating Cam Smith in a playoff.
Finau shot a 6-under 65 in the final round to move into a tie with Smith at 20 under. Then he won the playoff hole to take home his first PGA Tour win since March 2016.
The 31-year-old golfer told CBS reporter Amanda Balionis that he was speechless over the win.
“It feels amazing. It took just about everything I have. We had a 20-minute wait which wasn’t ideal. I just fought. This is pretty cool to be standing here again and winning a golf tournament,” Finau said after his win.
Finau has consistently been one of the top finishers in several events over the last few years. He has finished in the top 10 of majors nine times since 2018. But until Monday, he was unable to get over the hump to victory, going 143 starts between wins. Finally winning again must feel spectacular.
Viktor Hovland made a big mistake during the final round of the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Course in New Jersey on Monday, and it forced him to play several holes without a putter.
Hovland damaged his putter after smashing it on his bag in frustration when he was coming off the 8th hole. He wasn’t able to use the club anymore, and rules prevent players from replacing clubs that are broken or damaged during “cases of abuse.”
As a result of the outburst, Hovland had to putt with a wedge for the remainder of the round. While he was nowhere near the top of the leaderboard at the time, he managed to make the most of it. He even rolled in a fairly long birdie on the 10th.
While it was Hovland’s fault that he had to play without a putter, the incident was just the latest in what has been a bizarre season for the 23-year-old. If you remember, he was penalized two shots at The Players Championship in March after his own mother pointed out a violation. Hovland then had to withdraw from the US Open in June after he got sand in his eyes. Having to putt with a wedge was far from the most unusual thing that has happened to him this year.
Like any other golfer who hits the ball into the grandstands at a pro event, Harry Hall had the option of taking a free drop on the 16th hole of the Albertsons Boise Open in Idaho earlier this week. He simply chose not to take it.
Hall’s second shot on the par-5 16th hole in the opening round of the Korn Ferry Tour event ended up in the middle of a spectators’ grandstand. Rather than taking the free relief, he played the ball as it lied and popped it onto the green. The shot drew an awesome reaction from the fans. You can see the video below:
Hall just missed what would have been one of the most impressive birdies of all time. He still managed to make par. Here’s another angle of the shot:
Phil Mickelson is known for pulling off incredible shots, and that one from Hall would certainly make him proud. It takes some serious guts to make that play.
Cam Smith was on fire at The Northern Trust on Saturday and narrowly missed shooting a 59. Instead, he shot a par on 18 and settled for the course record at Liberty National Country Club at Jersey City, New Jersey.
Smith made six birdies on the front nine and added five more on the back nine to shoot his 60. The 11-under round put him at 16-under for the tournament.
Here is a look at his sparkling scorecard.
Shots like this on 14 helped him shoot his 60.
Smith and his mullet were just locked in.
There seems to be something special with The Northern Trust. You may recall that Scottie Scheffler shot the illustrious 59 at The Northern Trust last year. However, that took place at TPC Boston, not Liberty National.
Hideki Matsuyama managed a shot that he probably couldn’t manage again if he tried on Friday, and not necessarily for a great reason.
Matsuyama competed in the second round of The Northern Trust on Friday, and his opening drive on the tenth hole was well off target. In fact, it managed to go up the shirt of a spectator on the bounce.
The surprised spectator told officials that the ball landed between his legs, hit his leg, and somehow rolled up into his shirt, much to the amusement of the surrounding crowd. It also meant Matsuyama had to go over and mark off where the man’s foot was, as he was allowed to take a drop. The reigning Masters champion was a good sport about it and let the spectator keep the ball, which Matsuyama also autographed.
As rare as this is, it has happened before. Matsuyama would probably be content to avoid it ever happening again.
Matsuyama wound up tied for 25th at the conclusion of the round, shooting 3-under on the round.
Tiger Woods broke up with his first girlfriend, high school sweetheart Dina Parr, in the most cold-hearted way, with a cold-hearted letter.
Parr was one of the subjects interviewed for the HBO documentary on Woods, “Tiger,” that was released earlier this year. The documentary was very well done and explores much of the background that went into building Tiger into a golf prodigy.
Woods was raised by his parents to become a golfing machine and the greatest golfer ever. That meant he would have no time for distractions or problems, such as a serious girlfriend.
In the documentary, Parr, who was Dina Gravell at the time, told the story of her relationship with Tiger. She also shared how and why she believes their relationship ended.
“Earl and Tida (Tiger’s parents), they had this image of who he was supposed to be. And I think they were worried about me, because I certainly didn’t fit in to that,” Parr said in the documentary.
“I felt like their plans were creating this robot. There was all this preparation for golf, which is great. You’re going to be a great golfer. But he had no life skills. He had not been prepared for life,” Parr said of Tiger. “And I was probably the only person around him that really kept him in check. And I would tell him, ‘you are going to want to get married and have kids and golf is not going to be the most important thing. You are going to have to find that balance.’
“He would say, ‘I’m in love with you. I want that. I just want to have a life with you.'”
So what were the circumstances that led to the breakup? It all started with a lie.
Tiger and Dina met in an accounting class when they were in high school. Their relationship lasted for three years but ended after Woods returned home from college and lied to his parents.
According to longtime family friend Joe Grohman, who was a teaching pro at the Navy golf course where Woods practiced, Tiger lied about coming home from college. Tiger told his parents he was coming home from college the next day. But he actually had arrived the day before and stayed at Parr’s house.
When they found out about the lie, Woods’ parents were furious with their son. Tiger was scared and unsure what to do, so he called Grohman, the golf teacher recalled.
Grohman recalled that he went over to the house and was shocked at how angry Woods’ parents were. He recalled Tida dropping g-d damns all over the place. Earl Woods was furious too.
“We don’t need this. She’s going to get pregnant and blow this whole thing!” Grohman recalls Earl said.
They were so mad that they were ready to kick Tiger out of the house, according to Grohman. Tiger was “spooked” by the incident, according to Grohman.
So what happened next? Tiger wrote Dina a letter breaking up with her.
Here is what the letter said, according to Parr:
“Dina, the reason for writing this letter is to inform you my parents and myself never want to talk or hear from you again. Reflecting back over this relationship, I feel used and manipulated by you and your family. I hope the rest of your life runs well for you. I know this is sudden and a surprise. But it is, in my opinion, much warranted.
Parr then shared her thoughts on the letter.
“It was awful. We had been in this three-year relationship. And I thought about, should I drive over there? I just wanted to confront him. I just wanted him to look me in the face and tell me this. If it’s the truth, then we’re good. Then our relationship was a whole lie. That’s fine. But I want to hear it from you,” Parr said.
“I replay that day in my head over and over again. What happened? What really triggered all this? But it has to be that it was just the plan.”
What likely happened is Woods’ parents forced him to break up with her to focus on golf, and he did.
Parr, who just had seen a 3-year relationship end over a letter and received no closure, says she had to treat it like a death.
“It was like a death. And I had to treat it like a death, because I had to just let it go and pretend like he was gone. Because, honestly, the person that I fell in love with, the Tiger that I had known, had died. That part of him, that part of his soul that I knew, would never treat me that way. His sweetness was stolen from him. The new Tiger was here … and he was all about golf.”
Parr described Tiger in the documentary as a sweet guy who would let his hair down when he was with her. But Woods’ parents decided there would be no room for that in his life and seemingly forced him to cut it off with her.
This all happened well before Tiger’s infamous sex scandal that began in 2009. Woods got married in 2004, but the marriage unraveled after his ex-wife discovered he was cheating on her. That set off a scandal where numerous women came out and said they had sexual relationships with the golfer, all while he was married.
Also in the documentary, we learned of Tiger’s final message to his most well-known mistress, Rachel Uchitel.
Rachel Uchitel recently revealed the final message Tiger Woods sent to her.
Uchitel, the most well-known Woods mistress, has gone public recently. She complained that she has entered bankruptcy after running out of the money she received in an $8 million settlement from Tiger’s people. She only was paid $5 million, because she violated terms that would have brought her an additional three million. After legal fees and taxes, she was left with $2 million, which has run out.
Uchitel vented in a recent interview to The New York Times that Woods’ people are again coming after her because they say she violated terms of her original nondisclosure agreement by appearing in the HBO documentary, “Tiger.”
Uchitel was interviewed for the documentary in 2019 to tell her side of things. The documentary was released in 2021.
In the documentary, Uchitel discussed her relationship with Woods and revealed the final message the golfer sent her.
By that point in 2009, Woods was flying Uchitel to different parts of the world to accompany him while he was on the road for golf tournaments. They had a sexual relationship, and Uchitel says Woods even told her he loved her.
But their relationship became public after the National Enquirer published a story in Nov. 2009 about them being together. Uchitel and Tiger were initially concerned, but they organized a phone call with Tiger’s then-wife, Elin Nordegren, to assuage her. During the call, they told Elin that the relationship was not sexual. Elin supposedly believed them. However, two days later, Elin went through Tiger’s phone while he was asleep and found out the truth (full details here). That episode led to the infamous car crash that sparked weeks of tabloid stories and the uncovering of the Tiger Woods sex scandal.
Believing that Elin had initially believed their explanation, Rachel says she and Tiger talked a few days later. Uchitel felt things with him were never better.
However, things blew up after Elin discovered the affair, leading to the car crash and unraveling of Woods’ affairs.
Uchitel says she was unable to reach Tiger thereafter.
“None of the people around Tiger would answer my phone calls,” she complained in the documentary.
That made Uchitel question their entire relationship. She was prepared to tell her story to the media via a press conference before Tiger finally called her. Then Uchitel shared the final message Tiger told her.
“It was the first time that I spoke to him since the accident. He told me that his lawyers were going to call about a settlement of confidentiality. He said to me, ‘get as much as you can.’ And I think to him, that was his only way to love me at the time,” Uchitel says.
So that’s it. After all that, the last thing Woods told Uchitel was to get as much money as she could. That was his way of apologizing to her.
Uchitel wanted $10 million. She ended up with $5 million up front, with an additional million paid out annually over the next three years, for a total of $8 million. She ended up losing the final three million after committing a violation. Now she says Tiger’s people want repayment of the original $5 million for her appearance in the documentary. Uchitel feels she has very few options left, which is why she finally went public about the story. What happens next in the saga is unknown.
J.R. Smith has his sights set on playing sports again, but not professionally, and not the sport you might think.
Smith has enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, a top HBCU, with a plan to pursue a degree in liberal studies. The 35-year-old also has another goal: he’s trying to join the school’s golf team.
“They always told me I could go back (to school) whenever. So, this is whenever,” Smith told Helen Ross of the PGA Tour’s official website.
Smith is waiting for the NCAA to sort out his eligibility. While he did play professionally in the NBA, Smith never attended college, and North Carolina A&T golf coach Richard Watkins sounded confident that Smith will ultimately be allowed to play.
“He’s a former professional athlete, but (it’s) a unique set of circumstances,” Watkins said. “He didn’t go to college, never matriculated, the clock never started.”
It’s clear this isn’t just a publicity stunt. Smith is moving his entire family of five to Greensboro while he attends classes. The 16-year NBA veteran is also an avid golfer who plays to a 5 handicap. He has been seen in the gallery at multiple PGA Tour events, so his interest in joining the team is genuine.
Smith didn’t play in the NBA last season, and this decision makes it fairly certain that the 35-year-old won’t be doing so again. If that’s the case, his career ended in tremendously fitting style.
Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0
Rachel Uchitel was at the center of the Tiger Woods scandal more than a decade ago when it was revealed that she and several other women had affairs with the 15-time major champion. The situation resulted in a massive settlement for Uchitel, but she is now struggling financially.
The New York Times published a story about Uchitel on Monday. In it, the former cocktail waitress explained how she signed a nondisclosure agreement with Woods that promised her a payment of $5 million and $1 million annually for three years after.
“I’m not an idiot, I’m not a hooker, I’m not a prostitute,” Uchitel said. “I was and am a very smart girl and that’s why I negotiated $8 million, because I knew it was going to affect my life.”
The $8 million didn’t go very far, however. Uchitel explained that she only received a cut of the money due to taxes and legal fees. When she signed on to do “Celebrity Rehab” in 2010, Woods’ legal team demanded that she pay back the money she had received. Uchitel agreed to give up the additional $3 million she was owed.
Uchitel took part in HBO’s “Tiger” documentary, which was released earlier this year. She said she was threatened by Woods’ lawyer Michael Holtz over that.
“If you get a job, I’ll come after your wages. If you get married, I’ll go after your joint bank account,” Uchitel says Holtz told her. “I will come after you for the rest of your life.”
Uchitel says she has opened and closed two children’s clothing stores, and both are in debt. She filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and Holtz attended the bankruptcy meeting in May.
Tiger’s ex-wife Elin Nordegren may have blown the lid off the cheating scandal by sending fake text messages to Uchitel. A lot of people said Uchitel would be set for life after taking her “hush money,” but that obviously did not turn out to be the case.
H/T OK! Magazine
The United States racked up the most gold medals at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the most overall medals. The country can thank the two golf winners for adding to the gold medal total.
Xander Schauffele won the gold medal in men’s gold at the Olympics, while Nelly Korda came through to win the gold on the women’s side.
Schauffele gave Korda a nod by tweeting a photo of her on Saturday and commenting on her gold medal-winning pose.
Here’s the side-by-side of their photos:
Korda, 23, is asserting herself as the best female golfer in the world. She won the women’s PGA Championship this year and the gold medal, while being ranked No. 1 in the world.
As for Schauffele, he famously struggled to win a major. Maybe the gold medal win is the boost his golf career needed.