Tiger Woods, the golfer, was last seen tying it to the Old Course in July. He has a busy December ahead of him.

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Check out weekly unfiltered opinions from our editors and editors as they break down the hottest topics in sport and join the conversation by tweeting us. @golf_com. This week, we’re breaking down Tiger Woods playing golf in December, the best courses in America, and the rule changes we’d like to see.

It’s going to be a Tiger Woods-filled December, as Woods has committed to his Hero World Challenge (December 1-4) and The Match VII (December 10). He is also set to play the PNC Challenge (December 17-18) – although he has not yet committed – with his son, Charlie, which would make Woods three straight weeks on TV. What are you looking for most in Tiger from this stretch? Will anything he does give you a better idea of ​​what his 2023 might look like?

Sean Zak, Senior Writer (@sean_zak): We can learn the most about his health from the hero. Walking 18 holes for four straight days has been a struggle for Woods this year, but those struggles were four, five, six months ago. Has it gotten easier? He moved a lot as a caddy for his son. I think Woods, the golfer, can beat a handful of these top Bahamian pros, but what will he look like doing it? This will give us a good idea if there is progress or if there is a legit ceiling on his body.

Alan Bastable, editor (alan_bastable): That TW plays three times in three weeks is certainly cause for cautious optimism, but let’s not confuse those starts with Torrey, Pebble and Phoenix. As Zak notes, only the cutless hero will ask Woods to play four consecutive rounds of competition, and it’s not hard to imagine him taking a cart to the Bahamas if he feels he needs one as he goes. as the event progresses. (Host benefit!) As for what we might learn about its 2023 outlook from this stretch, huh – hard to say. I mean, what did we learn from his departures in 2022? He still has some game, sure, but apparently not the stamina for four rounds. I really hope that won’t be the case in 23, but the way Tiger continues to lag, it’s hard to imagine him going any further in too many tournaments.

Josh Berhow, Editor-in-Chief (@josh_berhow): I don’t think this will give us much insight into what we’ll see from Tiger in 2023. The hero is his event not a super taxing walk, he’ll get a cart at the game and he can also take a basket at the PNC championship. The hero has long been a birdie fest, so expect him to mix up some good scores there, and I predict he looks pretty good playing occasional, cart-assisted rounds in the two other events. That said, I still don’t think that’s a good barometer of Tiger’s prospects for 2023. We’ll have to wait for that. But for now, watching Woods play three times in December feels good to me anyway.

Joe LaCava Jr., Charlie Woods and Tiger Woods.

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Speaking of Woods, a report by the AP’s Doug Ferguson named Tiger the winner of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program for the second year in a row, edging out Rory McIlroy to take the biggest chunk of the PGA Tour’s new bonus pool. Round. If Woods only played three Tour events last year but still won, is the formula broken?

Zac: Excellent question. It could be? Woods earned it during those weeks, though. The Will-or-Won’t-He-Masters was the best theater we’ve had for a non-Sunday in a while. Then break par in the first round? Nobody was going to compete with that. I think we will know if the formula is broken by next year’s race. If Woods wins again, running away with it, after only playing four events… they may need to go over the details. But again, it all feels like a reward for his years and years of carrying the Tour on his back. It may be broken and it can be fine.

Bastable: Too bad for Phil that he’s not yet a PGA Tour member – he would have gotten away with that! Yeah, as Zak said, PIP is largely another avenue to line the pockets of Tour stars who (rightly!) feel they’ve been undercompensated. And no matter how many titles Rory, Rahm, or JT has won, nothing pisses off the golf-loving masses like any Tiger news, from what he thinks to what he wears to where he goes. of his private jet. Forget the millions of dollars – considering the attention and sponsorship deals Woods brought to professional golf, the Tour probably owes him Billions.

Berhow: It seems broken but I don’t think there’s a way to fix it, as it seems silly to make someone ineligible to only play a certain number of events. If the PIP continues, it will be fascinating to see if Tiger can continue to win even if he doesn’t play as often. Well, as Alan says, consider that back pay he so richly deserves. And I don’t think any other pros have a problem with it either. They know their scholarships are what they are due to Tiger.

GOLF has released its latest Top 100 US Ranking Course, with Pine Valley once again leading the way. What surprises or trends stood out to you about this list, and does that tell us anything about the future of golf courses in America?

Zac: It’s no surprise, but the list just repeated that some of the best golf courses in the country (and the world) are found in America’s Sandbelt. Nebraska has three courses in the top 100 and another couple worthy of inclusion. No. 18 is in Kansas and No. 24 is in Oklahoma. I think that tells us that you don’t need water and/or the coast to make golf invigorating. You need fresh air, firm turf, some wind, variety of shots and golf holes that ask fair questions.

Bastable: In terms of overall trends, it’s easy to detect the continued affinity for refreshed Golden Age classics, as well as new designs that have been inspired by that same style/aesthetic. These lists also remind me of how many hidden or uncelebrated gems lurk. Take Brookside, in Canton, Ohio. Years ago I attended a wedding reception there, completely oblivious to the fact that a future Top 100 course was being held just outside. Fun stuff!

Berhow: I’m not a reviewer for a reason, but it seems courses with great topography are rewarded over water-splattered designs where you can lose half a dozen balls per lap. Also, I need to get to Nebraska and check out some of these places ASAP.

Let’s stick to the rankings. Which of the 21 public options would you most recommend to our readers, the one that gets what you pay for?

Zac: Never been to Bandon, but heard it was good. I’ve never played Sawgrass, but it’s not worth the price. Pasatiempo is at the top of my list of courses available to the public (with an acceptable price). It’s great and not difficult to get to from San Francisco.

Bastable: Pasatiempo is definitely the one I would like to play and haven’t played. Lawsonia is the best value on the list and makes a fabulous addition to a trip to Whistling Sound. But don’t continue to be impressed by what Mike Keizer has accomplished in Bandon – just one resort with 5% of our list is remarkable – and yes, every run is worth it.

Berhow: Lawsonia is obvious, as is Bethpage Black, where you’ll get a bit more beat up but where you can at least experience it and tell people about it. Sand Valley will only get better with the addition of two more courses. I really like Harbor Town, which is over $400 for peak fare these days, but worth splurging for once (especially if you get it with off-peak fare). It’s a fun, memorable and classic design and this area is full of other great options to complete a pretty special golf trip itinerary.

The USGA has announced some rule changes that will take effect on January 1, which are part of an ongoing effort to make the guidelines of the game easier to understand and apply, and more in tune with the way golf is. played today. Some good additions, but what rule should they tackle next?

Marc Hubbard

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Zac: Make every border universal. Dangers, out of bounds, etc. Treat them all the same, streaked with red. This would simplify many decisions from a 15 handicap on where to play the No. 3.

Bastable: I give my time to Jimmy, owner of a North Florida shoe store with whom I played golf this weekend. Halfway through our round, Jimmy turned to me and said, “You know what the worst rule in golf is?

“Go ahead, Jimmy! »

“That you don’t have to pull the flag anymore,” he said.

Jimmy’s beef: Shooting your ball out of the tight space between the bottom of the flagstick and the side of the cup damages the rim of the hole. He pointed to the frayed edges of the hole we were looking at and showed me the same problem on three or four other greens. Jimmy wasn’t wrong.

“There are better ways to speed up the game,” he said.

Berhow: Down with the white piles! Stroke and distance anywhere, unless you’re playing in a high-level amateur or professional golf tournament. Let’s make the game more fun and speed up the process.

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