Tiger is injured; Masters in doubt?

699820.jpg

Tiger is injured; Masters in doubt?

From Comcast SportsNet
DORAL, Fla. (AP) -- One week after Tiger Woods showed some of his old magic, he hobbled off the golf course with an old injury. And the Masters is only three weeks away. Woods pounded a 321-yard tee shot on the 12th hole Sunday in the Cadillac Championship when he winced, slumping over against his driver, and the hobble became an unmistakable limp. Moments later, he shook hands with Webb Simpson and told him, "I've got to go in." He was driven off in a cart to the parking lot at Doral, walked gingerly to a black sedan and drove away. "I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse," Woods said in a statement. "After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time I decided to do what I thought was necessary." It's the same Achilles that he injured last year at Augusta National, which eventually caused Woods to miss two majors last year. The severity of this injury won't be known until Woods has it evaluated. NBC Sports showed Woods behind the wheel as he drove away from Doral in the black sedan. "I didn't really notice anything," Simpson said. "I wasn't paying much attention, but it looked like he made a swing on 12 that really hurt. But didn't say a whole lot. Class act. Shook my hand. Off he went. "He just shook my hand and said, I've got to go in.' You could feel he was hurting. He didn't say a whole lot, but his expression was enough that he was in enough pain to end it." Woods is scheduled to play in two weeks at Bay Hill, his last tournament before the Masters. Woods is a four-time champion at Augusta National, and with an ordinary game, he still has tied for fourth the last two years. "It's a shame because he looked like he was coming out this year, swinging it really well, playing good, getting himself into contention," said Rory McIlroy, who held off Woods' charge last week at the Honda Classic. "It's probably just precautionary, but I really hope he's healthy for the Masters, because obviously it would be a great week with him there. He can spark an interest in golf that no one else can." Doral was Woods' third straight tournament. He lost in the second round of the Match Play Championship, then shot 62 to tie for second in the Honda. When asked after the third round Saturday at Doral how is body was holding up through this stretch, he replied, "It feels great." Steve Stricker played with him in the third round Saturday and said he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. "He always walks with a limp a little bit," Stricker said. "I noticed it a little bit again. I thought maybe that's something he always has, like a habit." Woods changed shoes at the turn and was lifting his left leg, slightly flexing his ankle. His limp became more pronounced, especially after he pulled his second shot on the par-5 10th, leading to bogey. The limp grew worse, and moments later, Woods was gone. "I think maybe his heel was bothering him, or something with his foot," Simpson said. "I don't think it's anything serious. Like I said, we didn't talk or anything, so I'm not sure exactly what it was." It's the third time in three years that Woods has withdrawn from a tournament. The most recent was at The Players Championship last May, when he hobbled off the TPC Sawgrass after a 42 on the opening nine holes. He then took three months off to let his left leg fully heal, returning at the Bridgestone Invitational. Woods said he wanted to make sure he didn't come back until he knew there would be no more issues with his leg. Since then, he has been able to practice more and adjust to swing changes, and from tee-to-green his golf has looked solid. "That's not good news," Justin Rose said after his one-shot victory for his first World Golf Championship. "Hopefully, (he's) holding himself back for the Masters and doesn't want do any more damage." Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee dating to when he was at Stanford. The most significant was in June 2008, when he had reconstructive surgery to repair ligaments just a week after winning the U.S. Open for his 14th major. Woods has not won a major since then, and he has missed four majors because of injuries. Woods attracted the largest galleries of the week, even starting the final round eight shots out of the lead. When he left, so did most of the crowd. "It was a bit weird," Simpson said. "It went from one extreme to the other, from playing with all the people to playing with no people. I wasn't playing too good, so I didn't really care."

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

ap_17146189635759.jpg

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.