JOE BIDDLE: Sunday Notes: April 12, 2015

Tiger Woods
(AP Photo)

Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Bob May.  . . .

TIGER IS BACK: I had strong reservations what Tiger Woods would be able to make the cut at the Masters, much less contend for another green jacket.

But the strongest sign that Woods belonged in the conversation was after he blasted a tee shot way off the fairway gave me second thoughts.

The old Tiger was back as he watched his tee shot go off the radar.

“Oh, Tiger. You dumbass,’’ he said for all near the tee box to hear. It then became clear to me he would make the cut and play on the weekend.

The Tiger no one could beat when he was on his game, often scolded himself, frequently in saltier language than he used after the most recent wild tee shot.

It’s good to see him back. He even returned to play the Par-3 Tournament Wednesday. It previously been a no-no for him. He said it detracted for his tournament preparation. But with his two young kids, Sam and Charlie, caddying for him in the Par-3 event, Tiger was relaxed, smiling, even talking to those in the crowd.

Like him or not, Tiger draws in the casual golf fans and boosts TV ratings in every tournament he plays in.

GENTLE BEN: It was an emotional Masters farewell for two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw Friday.

After an all night bus ride from Nashville to Augusta, the Gatlin Brothers made it to follow Crenshaw, a longtime friend to the golf loving brothers.

They performed at a private dinner ceremony for Crenshaw Friday night.

“We’re so excited and honored to be part of the experience,’’ Steve Gatlin said.

When Crenshaw won the green jacket in 1984, Steve and Larry Gatlin were Ben’s houseguest. Rudy opted to take a spring skiing trip.

“That was one of the greatest weeks of my life,’’ Steve said. “In all seriousness, it actually felt like I won the Masters.’’

CADDY HONORED: The city of Augusta honored one of its own last week when a longtime Augusta National and personal caddy for Ben Crenshaw was given a crystal key to the city.

Carl Jackson is 67 years old and previously beat colon cancer. He had been on Crenshaw’s bag for 38 years. Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis proclaimed it Carl Jackson Day at the Mayors’ Masters reception in Augusta.

He caddied in a record 53 Masters, but had to let his brother take the bag Friday as Carl was too weak to make it up and down the significant hills on the course.

Speaking to the Brentwood Rotary Club Friday, I told the group that if they had never been to Augusta National, TV doesn’t show them the vast elevation changes the course has, from the highest part of the course down to the 12th hole, the middle hole of Amen Corner. You have to be there to experience it.

MANZIEL RELEASED: According to a report this weekend, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has been released from a rehab facility.

Manziel has been fighting a battle with alcohol and entered the undisclosed facility on his own.

The former Texas A&M star had quite a lengthy stay, having entered the facility on Jan. 28.

His NFL career will be shortened if he continues to make more immature decisions with his life.

GEORGE RIPS TITANS:  When Eddie George talks, Titans fans listen. He hopes the Titans front office and ownership is doing likewise.

Talking to 24/7 Sports, George said the Titans management is in disarray and a dysfunctional state.

“I think once they get their house in order, decide on a mission statement of who they want to be, then you can find the right leaders from you coaches on down to extend that culture. After that, championships can happen.’’

He doesn’t like what he sees and hears.

“Right now they’re putting out a bad product. Talking to the fans who are knowledgeable around here, they are upset. They’ve seen in the past what it takes to win championships.

“It takes playing for more than yourself. That has to be communicated from the top down, not just from the coaches and in the locker rooms, but from the ownership and management.’’

Can anyone out there say it any better?

SHOT FOR THE AGES: You want to hear about a shot you wish you had hit, here it is.

Phil Kelly is a 1965 graduate and captain of the former Isaac Litton High School golf team hit the shot of a lifetime.

Joining a local group of men for a week of golf in Destin, they stopped for a round at Highland Park Golf Course in Birmingham.

On No. 15, a 309-yard par-4, Kelly blistered a driver, a shot that found the hole for an ace. It was witnessed by Larry Collier, Dave Brawner and Ken Brawner.

It happened on April 1 and you probably suspect this is an April Fool’s joke, but no. Nothing but the truth.

LOOKING BACK: Before the Masters, CBS writer Kyle Porter ranked the field in order of best to worst.

Nashville’s Brandt Snedeker was ranked No. 21 by Porter, which would make the cut by a wide margin. But he missed the cut by a stroke and failed on several attempts to beat the cut line on his back nine.

Porter wrote: “He’s one of four or five guys in the field who could get hot with the putter for 72 holes and just put this thing away.

“I’m not sure he has the length if that doesn’t happen.’’

OH, COACH CAL: Kentucky Coach John Calipari didn’t make many fans in Memphis after he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Coach Cal coached at UMass and Memphis before landing in the Bluegrass.

Calipari equated coaching at those schools paling in comparison to Kentucky.

Before UK Cal said he ‘’was sitting at the little table,’’ he said. “I never got to carve the turkey.’’ Instead of silverware, Calipari said he had to use plastic knives and forks.

A Fox 13 Memphis meteorologist, Joey Sulipeck, took issue with Cal.

“That’s a cheap shot. He’s a spin doctor,’’ Sulipeck said on the air.

C.J. CONFRONTED: Former Titans and Jets running back Chris Johnson was present when Dreekius “Rollie’’ Johnson (no kin) was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting March 23.

Johnson attended the funeral service, but was confronted by a man who felt C.J. was partly to blame for the shooting and asked him to leave. On his way to his car, the victim’s mother stopped Johnson and demanded he come back inside, which he did.

SHORT TAKES: Former South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia attended senior Pro Day at Florida. He was outfitted with Gator gear. He has about as much chance to make a NFL roster as his former Head Ball Coach has. …

ESPN’s Final Four bracket contest had 11 million entries. President Obama finished in the 40 percentile. He picked Villanova and Duke to play the final game with Villanova beating the Blue Devils. Villanova went out in the second round. Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney must have had a lot of time on his hands. Romney’s bracket was better than 99.8 percent entries. He had Duke beating Wisconsin. . . .

St. John’s hires former star Chris Mullin as its basketball coach, despite Mullins had not coached at any level. Alabama hired Avery Johnson, who has never coached at the college level. Interesting choices. We shall see.

Sports Illustrated reported upgrades at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine included a dog-walking area with a new fire hydrant. The fire hydrant is painted blue and yellow with a large  “M’’ on top. Clever. . . .

Legendary Florida football coach Ray Graves died in his sleep Friday morning at a Clearwater assisted living facility. He was 96.

Graves was a Knoxville native, born there in 1918 and went on to captain the 1941 Tennessee football team. He will be buried in Tazewell in East Tennessee. He was replaced at Florida by Doug Dickey.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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