Monthly Archives: November 2022

Tiger Woods’ new normal a balancing act of rehab, rest


  • Tiger Woods on his intentions to play golf in 2023

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods, who will miss this week’s Hero World Challenge because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, got a new question at his press conference Tuesday:

“There are 206 bones in the body. Do you know each one of them by now?”

Woods, who will be 47 on Dec. 30, laughed and shook his head.

“No,” he said. “But I know each one that hurts, OK?”

The unofficial Hero, which benefits Woods’ foundation and which he has won five times, has always served as a de facto State of the Tiger get-together. Before we turn the page on the calendar, it’s a time for Woods to sit before the press and answer questions about his win streaks, major titles, swing changes, dominance.

Now, though, the main topic is human frailty.

“Well, it was a tough decision just because I want to play,” Woods said. “… Unfortunately, I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can’t walk.”

Would he have considered taking a cart this week if he’d been allowed?

“On the PGA TOUR, no,” he said. “I think walking is an integral part of the game at our level.”

The only fix, he added, is to receive treatment and, most crucially, stay off his feet.

He will ride in “The Match,” a 12-hole tilt under the lights at Pelican Golf Club in Belleaire, Florida on Dec. 10 (TNT, 6 p.m.). He and Rory McIlroy will take on unbeaten Presidents Cup duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Woods will also ride, and not hit every shot, as he plays with son Charlie at the father-son PNC Championship at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes, Dec. 15-18.

Almost as an aside Tuesday, Woods said his year has been more eventful on the medical front than anyone knew. “I had a couple surgeries, yes,” he said, but he would not elaborate.

He said the plantar fasciitis is a residual effect of the severe injuries he suffered in a single-car accident in Los Angeles in early 2021. He has teed it up three times this year, making the cut at the Masters Tournament (47th), making the cut but withdrawing at the PGA Championship, and missing the cut at The Open Championship.

He went into The Open, he said Tuesday, thinking he could win. “I was doing everything right” he said, “and then, all of a sudden … my leg just wasn’t working properly.”

Although his health has improved since July, he said, it’s still not where it needs to be. And so he continues to toe the line between working his way back to health and working so hard that he inadvertently makes himself worse.

“It’s a balancing act, right?” he said. “How hard do you push it to make progress while not pushing it too hard to go off the edge and you set yourself back two, three days, and that’s been the balancing act the whole year. And trying to do that, get ready for this event, I did a lot of beach walks trying to simulate the sand out here and my foot just did not like that very much.”

For Woods, the winner of 82 PGA TOUR events, including 15 majors, this is the new normal.

“The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more,” he said. “That’s it. I mean, physically that’s all I can do. … I don’t have much left in this leg.”

When he does play, he continued, he’ll just hope to catch lightning in a bottle and remember how to close. It will be hard, he added, relegating himself to tournament hosting duties this week.

“When I was at home,” he said, “I was shooting 4, 5, 6, 7 under par like it was nothing, but I was in a cart. Now you add in walking and that goes away.”

When it returns, so will Woods, but for now the wait continues.

Men’s Golf Finishes Ninth at ODU/OBX Intercollegiate

By: Old Dominion University

POWELLS POINT, N.C. – The Old Dominion men’s golf team couldn’t make up much ground after a disappointing second round as the Monarchs finished ninth Tuesday at the ODU/OBX Intercollegiate at Kilmarlic Golf Course.

“We were hoping to be in contention for the title in our own tournament at Kilmarlic this week,” said head coach Murray Rudisill. “We did not play well, and our youth and inexperience showed up, especially in the second round. Hopefully our team will be able to get some great practice in before the spring season starts in February.”

The Monarchs were tied for third at 10-over par 294 following Sunday’s opening round that saw the 16-team field battle rain and wind throughout the day. While the conditions improved on Monday, a round of 302 saw the team fall to 11th. A final round of 289 was enough for the Monarchs to make a slight jump up into ninth with a 54-hole total of 33-over 885.

North Dakota State led the Intercollegiate from wire-to-wire as the Bison ended up at 14-under with an 838. Additionally, NDSU’s Nate Adams was the tournament champion at 10-under 203. A 10-under 274 on Monday and an 11-under 273 on Tuesday helped SIU Edwardsville grab runner-up accolades. The Cougars were seven strokes behind the Bison at 845 (-7). Drexel rounded out the top three with a one-under 851, and the Dragons’ Drue Nicholas came in second place at seven-under 206.

This was NDSU’s second victory in the past three iterations of the Intercollegiate after the Bison won the team title in 2019 with a final of 26-under par 826. The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate wasn’t played in 2020 due to COVID and Delaware won last year’s tournament. This was also the second year in a row that Nicholas received a trophy as he shot a 12-under 201 to win in 2021.

Kaijun Ma was the top finisher for ODU, tying for 14th at two-over 215. The freshman from Macau, China started off the tournament with a one-over 72 before posting a three-under 68 and four-over 75 in rounds two and three. Jakob Henriksson had his best round on Tuesday with a one-under 70. He carded a six-over 219 to tie for 27th. Philip Minnehan was one stroke behind Henriksson and tied for 33rd at seven-over 220.

Kazuki Yamauchi turned in scores of 77, 75 and 72 to tie for 48th at 224 (+11). Aleksander Bjorge was next as his three-round tally of 225 (+12) tied him for 51st. Jakob Chicoyne started off with an even 71 but couldn’t repeat the effort as he tied for 55th at 226 (+13). Jacob Gunther’s total of 231 (+18) tied for 65th. Competing in his first tournament after missing last year due to injury, Michael Minnehan fired a round of 83 for his first trip around the course, but was forced to withdraw after that.

The Intercollegiate marked the final tournament of the fall season for the Monarchs. ODU had three Top-10 finishes through four tournaments played.

Team Results
1. North Dakota State (282-278-278 – 838) -14
2. SIU Edwardsville (298-274-273 – 845) -7
3. Drexel (295-284-272 – 851) -1
4. Longwood (296-287-284 – 867) +15
5. Georgetown (294-284-292 – 870) +18
6. Navy (297-294-289 – 880) +28
7. Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) (302-285-294 – 881) +29
8. Radford (311-278-294 – 883) +31
9. Old Dominion (294-302-289 – 885) +33
T10. Omaha (306-295-285 – 886) +34
T10. Villanova (302-293-291 – 886) +34
12. North Dakota (311-284-293 – 888) +36
13. Drake (293-310-286 – 889) +37
14. St. Francis (Pa.) (304-293-296 – 893) +41
15. Hartford (295-304-300 – 899) +47
16. St. Bonaventure (312-299-301 – 912) +60

ODU Lineup
T14. Kaijun Ma* (72-68-75 – 215) +2
T27. Jakob Henriksson (77-72-70 – 219) +6
T33. Philip Minnehan (73-74-73 – 220) +7
T48. Kazuki Yamauchi (77-75-72 – 224 +11
T51. Aleksander Bjorge* (74-73-78 – 225) +12
T55. Jakob Chicoyne (71-81-74 – 226) +13
T65. Jacob Gunther (73-81-77 – 231) +18
83. Michael Minnehan* (83-WD-WD – 83) +12

*Competed as individuals

Print Friendly Version


Michael Minnehan

5′ 8″ Junior

Kazuki Yamauchi

5′ 7″ Freshman

Jakob Henriksson


Jakob Chicoyne

5′ 7″ Junior

Kaijun Ma


Aleksander Bjorge


Philip Minnehan


Jacob Gunther


A look back at Tiger Woods’ five Hero victories


  • Tiger Woods’ final two birdies to win 2011 Hero World Challenge

Before his son Charlie became his co-star in Decembers, the Hero World Challenge offered the golf world one last glimpse of Tiger Woods before hitting pause for the holidays.

Woods started the tournament around the turn of the century to benefit his foundation. In more than two decades of existence, the small, but star-studded, gathering has offered many memorable moments. Woods has been the host with the most five times, winning the Hero to cap off some of the best years of his career. More recently, the tournament has offered us a rare glimpse of Woods while he has been sidelined by injuries, becoming a de facto “State of Tiger” gathering as he’s conducted candid press conferences about his health, launched comeback attempts or even just hit balls before curious observers, as he did last year.

He is back in this year’s field, his first Hero start since 2019, when he was the reigning Masters champion and preparing for a successful stint as the U.S. Presidents Cup Team’s playing captain.

Woods is coming off a year that saw him make an unexpected return to competitive golf at the Masters but also saw him play just three times as his surgically-repaired right leg struggled with the rigors of tournament golf.

To get you ready for Woods’ return to the Hero – and his first competitive appearance since July – here’s a look at his five victories in the Hero World Challenge.

 Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Final round: 64, 273 (-15)
Margin of victory: Three shots over Vijay Singh (71)

Tiger Woods used a trademark comeback to win his Hero World Challenge for the first time. He was four down to Vijay Singh when he sprayed his tee shot on Sherwood Country Club’s ninth hole over a creek and onto the thick brush on the side of a hill. He took a penalty drop, hit his next shot under the bleachers behind the green and then watched his chip off a hardpan lie roll 45 feet past the cup. Woods holed the lengthy bogey putt, however. Singh failed to capitalize on Woods’ miscues, making a bogey of his own to stay just four ahead.

“It was a huge momentum swing,” said Woods, who shot 30, including five birdies in a row, to beat Singh by seven over the final nine holes.

It completed an eventful year that saw Woods complete the Tiger Slam and win his first PLAYERS Championship. He’d go on to win five more times in 2002, including the Masters and U.S. Open.

Woods’ final-round 64 at Sherwood tied the course record. He donated his $1 million winner’s check to the Tiger Woods Foundation.

“With a field like this, it feels great to win,” Woods said. “Winning this tournament gives me the same feeling as winning any tournament.”

: Sherwood Country Club
Final round: 66, 268 (-16)
Margin of victory: Two shots over Padraig Harrington (66)

Woods was a ball-striking machine, missing just two fairways and two greens, as he collected his second Hero World Challenge victory. His final-round 66 was good enough for a two-shot win over Padraig Harrington, which would have been more had Woods putted well.

This one was especially gratifying as Woods was still solidifying swing changes and had just come off an odd year of close calls: 10 top-10 finishes without a victory after his lone win that year, at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“Probably ’98 was more difficult,” Woods said of his 2004 swing overhaul, “but certainly this one I got a lot more badgering from you guys. I got a lot more questions, ‘What are you doing?’ Because I had a great run for like five years, back in ’97. Yeah, I was dismantling my golf swing and … people thought I was crazy there.”

Also gratifying: His father, Earl Woods, whose health problems had limited his activity, was on site to see him win.

 Sherwood Country Club
Final round: 66, 272 (-16)
Margin of victory: Four shots over Geoff Ogilvy (71)

It was a bittersweet year for Woods, whose father, Earl, passed away in the spring.

Tiger missed the cut in his first event back, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but won The Open Championship a month later, crying on caddie Steve Williams’ shoulder. It was the first of six wins in six starts for Woods, including two majors (The Open, PGA Championship) and two WGCs (Bridgestone Invitational, American Express Championship).

By the time he got to Sherwood, he hadn’t lost in five months. He started the final round one behind Geoff Ogilvy, the winner earlier in the year at Winged Foot, but erased that deficit with two early birdies, including a chip-in at the third hole, and an Ogilvy bogey at the second. It was all Woods the rest of the way.

Although he had been distracted by Earl’s poor health for the first part of the season, he’d still managed early wins at Torrey Pines and Doral, and racked up six more after his father’s passing. The gaudy totals: 15 official PGA TOUR starts, eight wins, one second, one third, 11 top-10s.

And another victory in what would become the Hero World Challenge.

“It’s been a year of two halves, really,” he said.

 Sherwood Country Club
Final round: 68, 266 (-22)
Margin of victory: Seven shots over Zach Johnson (68)

Woods had concluded his 2007 season with four wins in five starts, along with winning the inaugural FedExCup. He would win his first three starts of 2008, as well.

In between, Woods, then 31, took a lengthy competitive hiatus after the Presidents Cup in September. It didn’t show at Sherwood. He dusted off the clubs 10 days before the event, carded a second-round 62 to jump ahead of the pack and cruised to the event’s largest margin of victory at the time (Jordan Spieth won by 10 shots in 2014).

Woods’ daughter Sam, 6 months old at the time, was on the scene for congratulations, as he punctuated a campaign that featured seven TOUR titles including the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

That season, Woods ranked No. 1 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and No. 2 in Strokes Gained: Putting. Seemingly his form had never been better. But he wasn’t convinced.

“Obviously, I’ve got a lot of room for improvement, which is a great sign,” he said. “Just imagine if I could hit the ball the way I wanted.”

Even Woods had to be pleased with what awaited in 2008, which was on pace to be one of his best years before it was interrupted by knee surgery. He won four of his six starts and finished second at the Masters. His worst showing was a fifth-place finish in the World Golf Championship at Doral. His campaign ended with one of his most famous victories, the 2008 U.S. Open.

 Sherwood Country Club
Final round: 69, 278 (-10)
Margin of victory: One shot over Zach Johnson (71)

Woods hadn’t won worldwide since the Australian Masters in November 2009. For a player who had accrued 71 PGA TOUR titles by age 33, it was a monumental drought brought on by the prolonged effects of personal scandal.

Woods, then 35, trailed Zach Johnson by one stroke with two holes to play. Then came a vintage Tiger finish. He drew even with a curling 15-foot birdie at the par-3 17th, and after Johnson missed a 15-foot birdie at the finishing hole, Woods made birdie from 6 feet to secure a one-stroke victory.

The emotion was palpable as Woods released a fist to the sky amidst a southern Californian roar.

“It feels awesome, whatever it is,” said Woods of the winning emotion. “I had the lead at the Masters on the back nine, and had a chance at the Aussie Open. So this is my third time with a chance to win; I pulled it off this time.”

The following March, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard for his first TOUR win since the 2009 BMW Championship. It was his first of three 2012 TOUR wins, before winning five times in 2013.



The biggest winner’s check in the history of women’s golf belongs to Lydia Ko after her wire-to-wire victory at the 2022 season-finale CME Group Tour Championship. Ko, who is now a 19-time LPGA champion, shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to finish at -17 overall and two strokes ahead of third-round co-leader Leona Maguire. With her win, the Kiwi also clinched the 2022 Player of the Year award for the second time in her career and the Vare Trophy for the second consecutive season.

“To be the Player of the Year and to win the Vare Trophy again and to win the CME Group Tour Championship, it’s a dream come true. To be able to do it in front of family and my team, you know, it’s a very special one,” said Ko, who is also now only two points shy of the necessary 27 for induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame. “As much as I’m excited that I have won, I’m also excited for some time off and get ready to become a bride soon.”

It took just one round for Ko to set herself apart as she led from day one, managing the gusty conditions that plagued the field throughout the week better than anyone. It looked like the Kiwi could easily run away with it after shooting 65-66 in the first two days, until Maguire made the most of Moving Day with a 9-under 63, the best score of the week.

Tied at the top heading into the final day, Ko’s bogey on No. 1 on Sunday gave Maguire an early lead, but the Kiwi made up for it with two birdies on the front while the Irishwoman kept it level. With Ko just one stroke ahead at the turn, both players made pars until they ran into trouble on the par-5 14th, each making bogey after hitting their second shots into the water and taking drops. Ko made two final birdies on 16 and 17 to edge out Maguire for her third title of the season.

“I think internally I was excited, but I tried to stay calm. Even down to the last hole, I just wanted to play my golf and make sure that it gets handled in my hands and not, like, somebody else’s,” said Ko.

Anna Nordqvist landed herself a solo third finish after a 5-under 67 to close out her 11th appearance in the Tour’s season finale. After making just one birdie on No. 7 on the front nine, the Swede posted six birdies, one par and two bogeys in her season-closing nine holes to get best result on Tour since her win at the 2021 AIG Women’s Open.

“I’m not going to lie, this year has been a hard year on the greens. I feel like ball striking-wise it’s probably been the most consistent year I’ve had in my career. But, the last couple of weeks wasn’t really going a good direction,” said Nordqvist. “So my husband helped me a little bit earlier in the week and just focusing on speed. I think it slowed down the greens a little bit today because of the wind. I left myself a little bit short on a few of those, but I feel like I just put myself in good positions into the greens, so I had some good looks.”

Georgia Hall’s Sunday 67 was enough to close out the CME Group Tour Championship in a tie for fourth with fellow major champion, Jeongeun Lee6. LPGA Tour winner Pajaree Anannarukarn finished with a 2-under 70 in the final round to reach double digits at -10 overall, while Hyo Joo Kim, Brooke Henderson and Gemma Dryburgh each finished in a tie for seventh at -9, while Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda tied for 10th at -8 along with the reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Atthaya Thitikul and Tour winner Celine Boutier. Defending champion Jin Young Ko finished in a tie for 33rd at -1, after carding rounds of 72-75-69-71 throughout the final week of the season.

Trinity Forest Lands Pair of USGA Junior Championships


Trinity Forest Golf Club, in Dallas, Texas, has been chosen by the USGA as the host site for the 2025 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and the 2031 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Scheduled for July 21-26, 2025, the 77th U.S. Junior Amateur will be the club’s first USGA championship. The U.S. Girls’ Junior will be staged July 14-19, 2031.

“We are very proud to welcome Trinity Forest as a USGA championship host,” said Mark Hill, USGA managing director, Championships. “The U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior have not only become two of our fastest-growing championships, but they have served as pathways to great achievement in the game, and we look forward to bringing the world’s best juniors to this terrific course for the first time.”

Trinity Forest was designed by Bill Coore and Texas native Ben Crenshaw and opened for play in 2016. Surrounded by thousands of Great Trinity Forest hardwood trees, the course itself is treeless. It resembles the terrain of many classic links-style courses in Great Britain or the Northeastern U.S. as it weaves through an open meadow with rolling hills of sand and tall native grasses.

Located 10 miles southeast of downtown Dallas, Trinity Forest has hosted several prestigious events for both amateurs and professionals in its short history. It was the site of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson in 2018 (won by Aaron Wise) and 2019 (won by Sung Kang) and has twice hosted U.S. Amateur qualifying. The club is also home to the Southern Methodist University men’s and women’s golf teams and has held an annual NCAA invitational tournament since 2017. In 2023, Trinity Forest will host the Jackson T. Stephens Cup.

“The club and our membership are thrilled to welcome the USGA to Trinity Forest,” said Jonas Woods, co-founder of Trinity Forest Golf Club. “Hosting these prestigious amateur championships is an exciting next step in our efforts to support the growth of youth golf and enhance the game in the Dallas area. We look forward to showcasing the top junior golfers as they take on Coore & Crenshaw’s fun design.”

Trinity Forest was built on a former landfill and uses Trinity Zoysia, a turfgrass known for its sustainable attributes, requiring very little water or fertilizer. In 2018, the club was presented with Golf Digest’s Green Star Award for outstanding environmental practices and its efforts in reclaiming what was once an unauthorized dumpsite.

The 2025 U.S. Junior Amateur will be the 33rd USGA championship held in the state of Texas. The Lone Star State most recently hosted the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Maridoe Golf Club, in Carrollton, won by Savannah Barber and Alexa Saldana. It has previously held three U.S. Junior Amateurs, including the 2014 championship won by Will Zalatoris, and two U.S. Girls’ Juniors, most recently in 2004 won by Julieta Granada.

Established in 1948 by the USGA, the U.S. Junior Amateur is open to amateur golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday by the conclusion of the championship and who have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 4.4. The U.S. Junior Amateur champion earns an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Open Championship. Among the notable U.S. Junior Amateur champions are three-time winner Tiger Woods, two-time winner Jordan Spieth, Johnny Miller, David Duval, Hunter Mahan, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.

Future U.S. Junior Amateur Sites

2023: Daniel Island Club, Charleston, S.C.
2024: Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
2025: Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas, Texas
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Ore.

The U.S. Girls’ Junior was first conducted in 1949 and is open to female amateurs who have not reached their 19th birthday by the conclusion of the championship and have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 9.4. The champion of the U.S. Girls’ Junior earns an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica. Notable U.S. Girls’ Junior champions include Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Hollis Stacy, Nancy Lopez, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee.

Future U.S. Girls’ Junior Sites

2023: U.S. Air Force Academy Eisenhower Golf Club (Blue Course), Colorado Springs, Colo.
2024: El Caballero Country Club, Tarzana, Calif.
2025: Atlanta Athletic Club (Riverside Course), Johns Creek, Ga.
2026: Old Chatham Golf Club, Durham, N.C.
2027: Canterbury Golf Club, Cleveland, Ohio
2028: Oakland Hills Country Club (South Course), Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
2031: Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas, Texas
2035, 2045: 
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Ore.

How burnout helped Ben Griffin rediscover his competitive edge


Ben Griffin remembers the scene like it was yesterday.

It’s the 2011 North Carolina high school 4A state golf championship. Griffin, a 4-foot-11 freshman, is pitted against senior Andrew Decker in a playoff at Pinehurst No. 6. On the second extra hole, the par-4 18th, Griffin’s approach finds a greenside bunker; he catches the bunker shot thin and the ball sails over the green.

With Decker facing a 15-footer for par, Griffin holes his par chip. Decker misses, and suddenly the freshman is a state champion.

“I had never played in front of cameras or anything, and there are all these news stations filming, 200 people watching,” Griffin said. “All the high school teams are watching, all the parents … I picked the line, hit the line, it bounced straight and went right in the middle. It was nuts.

“I had watched so many films of Tiger and all these people that were so calm and collected in those moments, whereas I knew I was shaking. I was shaking and I just hit it, and I tried to have this fierce look because I’m 14 years old, 4-foot-11, new kid on the block … I was the 4A state champion, having not gone through puberty. My voice was super high. It was crazy.”

Griffin remembers the scene because he has loved the game since childhood in North Carolina. His passion, inherited from his dad Cowan and grandpa Douglas, propelled him to a college career at North Carolina, where he was twice an honorable mention All-American, and a 2018 win on PGA TOUR Canada in his first summer as a pro.

In his first full Korn Ferry Tour season, in 2022, he earned a PGA TOUR card. In his fourth TOUR start as a member, he led on the back nine at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship before finishing T3. The rookie is set to conclude a successful fall at The RSM Classic in his adopted hometown of Sea Island, Georgia, this week.

To look at him, you’d never know Griffin almost gave up professional golf for good.

James Oh has spent his career in golf, first as a player on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour, and now as a swing coach across tours in men’s and women’s golf. He says there are two main reasons he’ll get a call from a pupil – “it’s one of two things; you’re either getting married or you’re getting fired.”

This was neither. It was spring 2021, and Griffin was calling to say he was walking away. A feel player who never had a consistent swing coach as a kid, Griffin synced with Oh’s ethos as one of the game’s least technical instructors.

Along the way, though, Griffin had fallen into one of professional golf’s inherent traps: an abundance of free time. He’d tinker for the sake of tinkering.

“He was videotaping his swing, changing equipment, all the things he never did,” said his trainer, Randy Myers. “He became that guy that he didn’t want to ever become.”

Griffin trusted his work with Oh, which he describes as a series of small tweaks rather than massive overhauls – “16 things I’ve probably got to do a bit differently for me to be the No. 1 player in the world” – and felt his game improving. But he was in status no-man’s land, having lost his Korn Ferry Tour status after 2019 and missed at Q-School before the pandemic hiatus. What’s more, the combination of financial stress and mental uncertainty didn’t improve matters – “getting beat down by trying to do Monday qualifier after Monday qualifier,” Myers said.

The unbridled joy of that high school freshman had dwindled away to almost nothing.

“I was so burnt out at golf,” Griffin said. “I didn’t have the love for the game.”

In that respect, he was like 77% of respondents in a recent Deloitte survey who said they’ve experienced burnout at their current job. The question was what to do next.

Opting for a clean break, Griffin took the required coursework, passed accreditation tests at the state and national level, and became a licensed mortgage loan officer at CIMG Residential Mortgage in his native Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“If you’re going to get away from it, get away from it,” Oh said. “That’s the only thing as a player that’s going to drive you back, and if you don’t have the motivation to come back, you shouldn’t do it. You shouldn’t have someone else tell you that you should do it. You’ve got to want to do it. And I knew that with how good of a player he was, he just needed to really get away from it to … want to come back.”

Anxious to start with CIMG, Griffin admits he “barely passed” his accreditation tests. Colleague Karen Lorbacher, a loan coordinator, showed him the ropes.

“She taught me everything that I learned,” he said.

By the beginning of June, Griffin was up to speed and joining realtors at networking events, trying to generate business. A normal day was 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., but it could stretch to a 14-hour day (7 a.m. – 9 p.m.) if things got busy.

In his mind, he was a mortgage loan officer, not a professional golfer.

Coming back to golf

Griffin’s grandpa Douglas, whose motto was “Hit them long and straight,” passed away that July. One day shortly after his grandfather’s death, Griffin felt compelled to pull into a golf course on the way to work. He wondered if it was a sign.

Meanwhile, Mike Swann and Jesse Ahearn, members at Highland Springs CC in Springfield, Missouri – longtime host venue of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper – insisted on flying him out for the event’s Monday qualifier. Griffin got time off and carded 65 to advance into the field, and although he missed the cut, he stuck around Sunday as Dylan Wu, a friend from PGA TOUR Canada, won to secure his first PGA TOUR card.

As all of that was happening, trainer Myers revealed that Doug Sieg, a mutual friend and the managing partner of investment firm Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC, wanted to sponsor Griffin. Sieg had been interested in a potential sponsorship earlier in the summer, but Griffin was committed to his new job as a loan officer. The knowledge that he was headed to a Korn Ferry Tour qualifier changed things.

Things were falling into place for him to be a golfer again.

“Doug said, ‘I’m not going to do this with anyone else but Ben,’” Myers said. “The reason, ‘It doesn’t need to be someone on TOUR; all I need is someone who is good with my clients and in clinics, and Ben’s the perfect guy.’ It was just, ‘I love this kid, regardless of what he wants to do, how far he’s going. I think we can help him out.’”

With his new sponsorship, and hungry to play again, Griffin was positioned to make another run at his original career choice. It was bittersweet to inform his team at CIMG that he was leaving, but he couldn’t let the opportunity pass him by.

He advanced through First Stage and Second Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School last fall, carrying his bag at both events, before authoring a third-round 64 at Final Stage in Georgia en route to securing guaranteed starts with a stroke to spare. He called both Myers and Sieg during a rain delay from a drab motel outside Savannah, with Sieg gently chiding him that better accommodations were in his future.

As he built back his confidence throughout the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season, he paid more attention to nutrition and sought out rental houses to allow for cooking and meal-prep. He adopted a vegan diet and limited his drinking, although he could be forgiven a libation at the Korn Ferry Tour graduation ceremony in Omaha in August.

“Everything helps together,” Griffin said. “Having a team supporting me has given me a clear mind. Eating healthy is going to make me feel better when I’m out there. Not drinking alcohol is going to keep my mind clear and not foggy. There are so many things off the golf course that affect your golf game more than you even think.”

Lessons learned

The day after this interview, Griffin carded a 59 in a casual round at Sea Island Golf Club’s Plantation Course. He holed out from 155 yards to do so. He finished fourth at the TOUR’s 2021-22 Regular Season-ending Wyndham Championship (competing on a sponsor exemption) and experienced a weekend in the spotlight in Bermuda.

With his three runner-up finishes on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour, Griffin put together one of professional golf’s most complete seasons without a victory.

“Having people who could help him out and get him going again and find that love for the game again … I think for him, seeing the other side of it, even for the short period of time that he was doing it, gave him that motivation to go out there and get it done,” said fellow North Carolina native Ben Kohles, who lived at Sea Island during Griffin’s first stint as a pro, when the two practiced together frequently.

“Stepping away from it at times can really give you the determination to get back out there and figure it out, and that’s what we’re all out here trying to do.”

Griffin’s break, however brief, was vitally important.

“He had to take it,” said Myers. “He probably wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t. He would’ve quit but never come back. I think he quit when he was still good, which is a good thing, but it’s also one of those things where it drives you back to the game.”

Griffin concurs.

“I had never had significant time away from the game like that,” he said. “Having that reset, it’s so valuable, way more valuable than I had ever imagined. Regardless of what you do in life, it’s important to step back and take a breath. People always say, ‘Get your mind off it. Breathe.’ Golf is what I needed to be playing all along.”

Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy to take on Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas in ‘The Match’


The next iteration of “The Match,” the popular made-for-TV series on Turner Sports, will pit new business partners Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy against friends and Presidents Cup teammates Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on Dec. 10.

The seventh iteration of the exhibition series will start at 6 p.m. under the lights at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, a suburb of St. Petersburg.

This will be the third appearance in “The Match” for Woods, who helped launch the concept when he took on Phil Mickelson in 2018. Woods and Peyton Manning defeated Mickelson and Tom Brady in “The Match” in 2020, when the world was reeling from the Covid crisis and fans had few other options when it came to televised live sports.

Woods and McIlroy have combined for 105 PGA TOUR victories, 19 majors and five FedExCup titles, and are business partners in TMRW Sports, which is focused on “building technology-focused ventures that feature progressive approaches to sports, media, and entertainment.”

In August, they announced a new tech-infused golf league in tandem with the PGA TOUR.

Spieth and Thomas have been friends since their junior golf days and are coming off a 4-0-0 performance as teammates at the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, where the U.S. Team won. Each won once last season, with Thomas picking up his second PGA Championship title.

Neither has played in “The Match,” although Thomas was an on-course commentator in 2020.

McIlroy got his 23rd and most recent victory at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina last month, part of a banner 2022 that has seen him return to world No. 1. He also won a record third FedExCup title in August despite starting six strokes back and opening with a triple-bogey.

Woods, 46, is still recovering from injuries sustained in a car crash in early 2021. In limited action, he made the cut and finished 47th at the Masters Tournament, then made the cut against at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Alas, after a third-round 79 he was in too much pain to continue and withdrew. He missed the cut at the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

But while it’s been a quiet year, competitively, it’s not over yet.

The winner of 82 PGA TOUR titles, including 15 majors, Woods will host the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in early December but has not said if he will play. He also could tee it up again with son Charlie at next month’s PNC Championship.

Nationally-Ranked Captains Men’s Golf Closes Fall Season With O’Briant Jensen Memorial Victory

By: Christopher Newport University

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The nationally-ranked Christopher Newport men’s golf program put an emphatic stamp on the excellent fall season with the team’s second win of the semester, topping the 18-team field at the O’Briant Jensen Memorial by eight strokes. The Captains finished Even par as a team after firing a one-under 283 as a group to cruise to the win over No. 2 Methodist University by eight strokes.

Two Captains finished in the top-ten on the individual leaderboard and three CNU players finished the second round at the event under par. Senior Robb Kinder fired a career-best four-under 67 on Tuesday to lead an impressive overall team performance at The Cardinal by Pete Dye in Greensboro, N.C. as he was joined by classmate Alex Price and junior Aidan Baron with under par rounds.

The 283 showing was the first time since April 6, 2019 that three or more CNU golfers finished under par in the same round. In that tournament, the Captains scored a 275 at the Camp Lejeune Intercollegiate when Davis Topping, David Rabil, and Kevin Quinto all fired sub-70 scorecards.

This week, it was all CNU at The Cardinal, as Christopher Newport held a first-round lead and carried that dominance into the second round with two of only three total rounds scored under 290 in the event. The Captains led the field in Par 3 scoring (3.15), ranked second in Par 5 scoring (4.63) and tied for third in Par 4 scoring (4.24) with a well-rounded showing. The Captains finished one-under par, tying for the fifth-best individual round in relation to par in program history.

For the tournament, the Captains shattered the previous 36-hole low tournament score (total score) by seven strokes. It marks only the third time in program history the Captains have finished an event at Par or better for an entire tournament as a team and the second ever in a multi-round tournament. CNU bested the previous 36-hole mark in relation to par by one stroke, re-setting a record that has stood since October 14, 2001 when the Captains were one-over par at the VSGA Championship.

On the individual scorecards, Kinder was on fire Tuesday and blitzed nearly 50 spots up the individual leaderboard with a four-under 67. The New Kent, Va. native sank two Eagles, including dropping one in from the fairway on the 427-yard Par 4 fourteenth late in the round. Powered by that and three more birdies, Kinder finished four-under on his last six holes of the tournament to tie for 17th overall with a 147 (80-67).

The CNU veteran added an Eagle three on the 542-yard Par 5 fourth while sinking seven pars on the front as well. It stands as the finest round of the year and a top-ten single round performance all-time in CNU Men’s Golf history. It also stands as the fourth-best round by a senior and the finest individual performance by a fourth-year player since October 18, 2011 when CNU Hall of Famer Joseph Evans fired a 66 in the Oglethorpe Invitational.

While Kinder was going low, junior teammate Aidan Baron collected his second career top-ten finish after finishing ninth with a one-over par 143 (74-69). Like Kinder, Baron also set a personal low with his two-under second round with a 69. The third-year player birdied three of his first six holes and added one more under par hole on the back.

Alex Price (-4) finished a team-best third place on the individual leaderboard. After a strong opening round performance with a 68, Price added another round under par with a 70 on day two. His 138 (68-70) ranks tied for fourth all-time in a 36-hole tournament in total strokes and tied for fifth in relation to par. Dominant on the long holes this week, Price led the 102-player field with a 3.83 average on Par 5’s, firing a -7 with five birdies and an eagle on the six total holes.

Rookie Austin Smith tied for 20th at six-over par with another very clean round. After just one hole over par on Monday, Smith only had three on Tuesday while adding 15 pars for the second straight day. He led the tournament with 30 pars in 36 holes played and scored for the Captains on Tuesday with a six-over 77.

Jack Gessman also finished in the top-half of the tournament with a 13-over 155 (72-83) and tied Baron and Kinder with 20 pars in the two-day event.

Christopher Newport will close the book on a successful fall season with two wins and a third top-five performance in four tournaments played. The Captains, ranked No. 5 in the Bushnell/Golfweek Top 25 poll and No. 7 in the GolfStat Team Rankings, will next play on March 5-7 at the Savannah Invitational.