Tiger Woods' coach responds to the critics

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Tiger Woods' coach responds to the critics

From Comcast SportsNetORLANDO, Florida(AP) --Tiger Woods' swing coach says criticism of his client is getting out of hand."I know everyone has a job to do, and I get it," Foley said this week on "Fairways of Life," a radio show hosted by Matt Adams on XM Sirius. "But if it is about the game of golf, Tiger Woods is an extremely important part of the game, and I think everyone understands that. It has just gotten to the point where the tearing down of Tiger as a person and a golfer has become just too much. I think it is just out of hand."Woods has been under more scrutiny than any other golfer since he turned pro in 1996 when he was 20 and won twice in seven starts on the PGA Tour. The criticism has sharpened in the two years since Woods was exposed for extramarital affairs that cost him his marriage and impeccable image.He tied for 40th at the Masters, yet most of the attention was on how Woods kicked his golf club after missing a tee shot on the 16th hole of the second round. He said the next day, "I'm frustrated at times and I apologize if I offended anybody that that."Foley began working with Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Woods has shown signs of getting back toward the top of his game. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month for his first PGA Tour win since the scandal in his personal life unfolded the night of Thanksgiving 2009.Foley has gone through his share of criticism, too, especially in the early stages of Woods learning a new swing."I realize it is 2012 and we have dotcoms, and you have to write five articles a day, and you run out of things to write about," Foley said. "But we should be in a position where we are trying to help and lift up and support a player like Tiger Woods instead of tearing him down, because everyone in the golf industry is better off because of his existence."Foley's comments came at the end of a 20-minute interview, and he raised the issue without prompting."That is basically one thing I want to get out," Foley said. "Tiger is a wonderful person, and he is a good dude, and he lives a complex life. I think things have got to slow down, and it has got to stop, the daily referendums and the criticism."Woods' performance in the Masters has kept him in conversations, however. It was his highest finish in a major as a pro -- except for the three times he has missed the cut -- and kicking his 9-iron became a lasting image of his week at Augusta National.A few days after the Masters, former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said on Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio that Woods' antics were an "embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta." The comments were startling because Azinger has long been a supporter of Woods."I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way," Azinger said. "He's not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill, I thought, Here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.' I don't know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule."Jack Nicklaus was asked Tuesday about Woods' game and said he didn't know what was going on."I don't know what goes (on) between his ears," Nicklaus said. "That's really the X factor. His golf game and his golf swing looks pretty similar to what I've been looking at and he hits a lot of great shots. But you never know what's going on in somebody's head."

After trading Jimmy Butler, Bulls select Arizona PF Lauri Markkanen

After trading Jimmy Butler, Bulls select Arizona PF Lauri Markkanen

The Bulls enterted their rebuilding phase on Thursday night after trading Jimmy Butler. And with the No. 7 pick they received in that deal, they selected Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen, a 7-footer from Finland, played one season for the Wildcats, averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. Markkanen was a sharpshooter, connecting on 42.3 percent of his 163 3-pointers.

His defense is a question mark but his pick-and-pop ability should fit in well in Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The Bulls also received shooting guard Zach LaVine and point guard Kris Dunn in the deal for Butler. The Bulls sent the No. 16 pick along with Butler. They still have the No. 38 overall pick in the second round.

How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

MIAMI – Theo Epstein scoffed at the possibility of sending a World Series hero down to the minors on May 16, writing the headline with this money quote: “If anyone wants to sell their Kyle Schwarber stock, we’re buying.”

If the Cubs aren’t dumping their Schwarber stock, they’re definitely reassessing their investment strategy, trying to figure out how such a dangerous postseason hitter had become one of the least productive players in the majors.

The overall portfolio hasn’t changed that much since the team president’s vote of confidence, Schwarber batting .179 for the defending champs then and .171 when the Cubs finally made the decision to demote him to Triple-A Iowa. That 18-19 team is now 36-35 and still waiting for that hot streak. 

What took so long?

“The honest answer is we believe in him so much,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday. “He’s never struggled like this. We kept thinking that he was going to come out of it. We got to a point where we felt like mentally he probably needed a break before he could come out of this. 

“The honest answer is patience. We’ve got a guy who’s never really struggled. He was the best hitter in college baseball. He blew through the minor leagues. Last year in the World Series, he performed. We just felt like he was going to turn himself around.

“It just got to a place where we felt like the right way for this to come together was to allow him to get away from the team, to take a deep breath and be able to work on some things in a lower-pressure environment.”   

The Cubs plan to give Schwarber a few days off before he reports to Iowa, an idea that would have seemed unthinkable after watching his shocking recovery from knee surgery and legendary performance (.971 OPS) against the Cleveland Indians in last year’s World Series.

But preparing for one opponent and running on adrenaline through 20 plate appearances is completely different from handling the great expectations and newfound level of fame and doing it for an entire 162-game season.   

This might actually be the most normal part of Schwarber’s career after his meteoric rise from No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft to breakout star in the 2015 playoffs to injured and untouchable during last year’s trade talks with the New York Yankees. 

“There’s been a long and illustrious list of guys that have gone through this,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When a guy’s good, he’s good. Sometimes – especially when they’re this young – you just got to hit that reset button. It’s hard for a young player who’s never really struggled before to struggle on this stage and work his way through it.

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“There’s no scarlet letter attached to this. It’s just the way it happens sometimes. You have to do what you think is best. We think this is best for him right now. We know he’s going to be back.” 

When? The Cubs say they don’t have a certain number of Pacific Coast League at-bats in mind for a guy who’s played only 17 career games at the Triple-A level.

Maddon pointed out how Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee needed minor-league sabbaticals/refresher courses before becoming Cy Young Award winners and two of the best pitchers of their generation.

New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto – another college hitter the Cubs closely scouted before taking Schwarber in the 2014 draft – has gone from the 2015 World Series to Triple-A Las Vegas for parts of last season to potential All-Star this year.

The Cubs fully expect their Schwarber stock to rebound – whether or not the turnaround happens in time to impact the 2017 bottom line.    

“I’m still sticking by him,” Maddon said. “But at some point, you have to be pragmatic. You have to do what’s best for everybody. We thought at this point that we weren’t going to necessarily get him back to where we need him to be just by continuing this same path.

“It’s not a matter of us not sticking with him anymore. We just thought this was the best way to go to really get him well, so that we could utilize the best side of Kyle moving forward.”