Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Woods’

Ryder Cup 2010: Great theatre

October 8, 2010

The 2010 Ryder Cup finished a day late (Monday) due to weather delays on the first day, but the conclusion was well worth watching.

Unfortunately, as in every sporting event there has to be a winner and a loser. In this case the winner was the European team, but it came down to the last group of the final day to determine that fact.

It was a big moment for Graeme McDowell who won his match against Hunter Mahan on the 17th hole, giving the Europeans 14 1/2 points to the USA team’s 14 points. A great year for McDowell, having won the US Open earlier in the year and then wrapping up the Ryder Cup for his team.

I did bleed a bit for Hunter Mahan who was short with his shot into the 17th green and then muffed his chip on his next shot to lose the hole and the match. My first thought was that the press would brand him as the goat for this Ryder Cup, although from what I’ve seen that didn’t happen.

I’m sure that Mahan will relive that chip in his mind for a long time: that’s golf. The pressure was intense and shit happens in this game. But the reality was that Mahan was 2 down at that point and needed to win the last two holes just to get a half on his match (which would have left the cup in the hands of the US team). All McDowell had to do was win or tie one of the last two. Which probably didn’t feel that easy to him at the time, knowing what was at stake.

I was pleased to see Tiger Woods playing well, especially on the final day in his singles match. Maybe he is ready to put his personal problems behind him and return to his old form. But I must admit that I am amazed by the anger that some people I have talked exhibit when Woods’ name comes up. Almost an visceral reaction.

There were some great performances by a number of players on both teams and some disappointments for others.

Now they can start thinking about doing it all over again in two year’s time.


Where has T. Woods gone?

August 9, 2010

The Tiger Wood saga fascinates me. Not the scandal,  but the aftermath and how it has affected his game.

We are constantly told that golf is a mental game (although, come to think of it that may mean that you’re crazy to play it), even though we are inundated with advice on how improve your technique. But if anyone ever had any doubts about the game being played between your ears, they just have to look at what has happened to Woods.

In less than a year he has gone from being arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, to struggling to make a cut. The only thing saving him from not playing the weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational was the fact that it was a no-cut event.

So what happened? He lost his muscle memory and his swing went with it? Bloody unlikely.

This is a guy that his last instructor, Hank Haney, in a Golf Digest article said knew more about his swing than anyone he ever worked with.

How knowledgeable is Tiger about the golf swing?

The most knowledgeable I’ve ever been around. I’ve taught 200 pros from tours around the world, and nobody came close to knowing what Tiger knows.

I think it’s all head games. Too many major distractions in his personal life and Woods’ fabled focus is screwed up.

He’s not having just one problem. Everything’s screwed. His driver has gone south, his irons are bad and the putts aren’t dropping.. He is a walking disaster area.

The question is: Can he make it all the way back?

It’s hard to bet against Woods, especially once his personal life returns to a semblance of order and his focus and self discipline is restored. The question being – can he actually accomplish that.

There have been many fine golfers who have lost their edge and were never able to regain their top form.

A famous example is Australian Ian Baker Finch who won the Open in 1991 and then a couple of years saw his game collapse.

Baker-Finch then famously suffered a complete collapse of his game.[4] The problems were often psychological: He would hit shots flawlessly on the practice range, and then go to the first tee and hit a weak drive into the wrong fairway. In the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, he notoriously hooked his first round tee-shot at the first out-of-bounds on the left side of the fairway shared with the 18th, with attention focused on him as his playing partner was Arnold Palmer, competing in his final Open. In 1995 and 1996 he missed the cut, withdrew after one round, or was disqualified in all twenty nine PGA Tour events that he entered. After shooting a 92 in the first round of the 1997 British Open, an extraordinarily bad score by tournament professional standards, he withdrew from the championship and retired from tournament golf..

Another is David Duval who rose to number one in the world in 1999 and won The Open in 2001. Then his game went sideways, although part of the initial problem may have been some physical issues. But Duval has never been able to regain his old form, although he has shown occasional flashes of his former abilities but still didn’t earn his 2010 tour exemption.

So will Tiger work his way through this? With his past history it is pretty difficult to bet against him, but the mind is a delicate thing. Who would have ever expected that he could play for four days and never get close to par. Eighteen over par for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone this weekend was pretty unbelievable.

Making predictions on something like this is a mugs game. One can only wait and see how things unfold.

But I wonder what the British bookie odds are on this.

2010 Us Open: Big guns back away from title

June 22, 2010

The US Open finished on Sunday and Tiger couldn’t repeat his Saturday effort. Dustin Johnson who held a 3 shot lead on Sunday morning crashed from a 6-under start to a 3-over finish. Ernie Els who needed to make a charge, couldn’t and shot 1-over par as did Phil Mickelson. The French golfer Gregory Havret had an honest chance to at least make it into a playoff but bogeyed the 17th the ensure that didn’t happen. And the eventual winner, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell dropped three shots over the course of the day but managed to put his name on the trophy.

As I have said many times before, golf is a strange game. I think I’ve used the term ‘funny’ before, but that might infer that it is amusing. It isn’t.

Here we were on Sunday at the final round of the 2010 US Open, with the number 1, 2 and 6 ranked golfers in the world in contention and none of them could rise to the occasion. By my count there were only 6 scores under par on Sunday. One was a 68 by Bo Van Pelt who had shot an 82 on Saturday. What was different for him on Sunday when the leaders were crashing and burning. No pressure?

Granted the couse was obviously playing very hard and the greens were very, very fast, but these are still the very best golfers in the world and they were whipped like dogs.

Of course, maybe that is the other side of it. When the best golfers in the world can’t produce and shoot – in some cases – amateur level scores, is the course just too difficult? Are they really chosing the best golfer or just the most fortunate on any given day?

We know that a golf game can go sideways for anyone, whether professional or amateur. But when it goes astray for everyone you wonder if it is because of the course set-up, the pressure of competing for your national championship or (likely) a combination of the two. It would be interesting to see any of the competitors play the course on Monday following the Open strictly as a fun round and see what they would shoot.

2010 US Open: And Tiger recovers his form

June 20, 2010

On Thursday and Friday Tiger Woods couldn’t make his putter work and ended up  at 4-over par. On Saturday the magic returned and he shot a 5-under par 66 and is going into Sunday 1-under par, 5 back of the leader Dustin Johnson.

Is Tiger back in full form? I guess we’ll see at the end of the tournament on Sunday.

Regardless, it was nice to see the old Tiger back on the course, dropping putts. And the crowd seemed to appreciate it as well.

Phil Michelson took the other route, putting himself in contention on Friday with a 66 of his own, leaving him at 1-under par going into today’s 3rd round. But it wasn’t there today and he fell back to 1-over par at days end.

The story was Dustin Johnson who also shot a 66 to match Tiger’s and put him in the lead by 3 strokes over Graeme McDowell going into the final round.

There was obviously some good golf to watch and Pebble Beach is a beautiful and tough looking course – not that I will every experience it in person, with a public green fee of $495 for 18 holes.

It is interesting to see that only three people are at par or better after the third round:. Johnson, McDowell,Woods and the French golfer Havret, in that order. From there the scores climb as high as 19 over par. A number that Mike Weir shares with one other competitor. I thought that Weir might have a good shot at playing well this week, and he did start with a 1-under 70. Then carded a 79 and 83 in the next two rounds.

Golf is a strange game. Higher handicap amateurs seem to expect their games to be consistent at whatever level they may be playing and get upset when it goes sideways. But you look at the pros – the best players in the world – and they suffer from the same problem as noted with Mike Weir’s first round 70 and his third round 83. Mind you, that is an extreme, but even Mickelson’s migration from a 66 on Friday and a 73 on Saturday.

Anyway, as they say, it’s not over until it’s over (another Yogi Berra malapropism). As is always the case, Sunday will tell the tale.

Tiger Woods: “That’s none of your business”

June 16, 2010

Just watched the pre-event interview on the Golf Channel with Tiger Woods at the US Open at Pebble Beach.

Lots of golf questions, then he was asked if he had arrived at any resolution, “one way or the other”, with his wife, Elin. Tiger looked the reporter in the eye and said, “That’s none of your business”.

Good answer!

Tiger Woods: Everyone is an expert

March 30, 2010

I have almost reached the point of feeling sympathy for Woods over his personal problems. I say ‘almost’, as his problems were all caused by his own arrogance and lack of personal discipline and quite frankly – stupidity. Not that those are failings exclusive to Mr. Woods.

Contemplate briefly Bill ClintonJohn Edwards, Kobe Bryant, Jesse James, Mark Sanford, and sundry other high profile philanderers. All of them, with much to lose, and who seemed to think that they could act out their sexual fantasies free and clear of any media intrusion.

What were they thinking – if they were thinking at all?

But back to the Tiger.

What has begun to generate some sympathy, at least on my part, is the schizophrenic commentary that has become the norm when writing about the trials and travails of golf’s number one player.

If you read any amount of the tripe that has been written it becomes apparent that no matter what decision that Woods might make regarding his return to golf it will be wrong in someone’s eyes.

It was the opinion of some that the timing of his press conference during the Accenture golf tournament was  obviously to punish Accenture for dropping him as a client.  Some punishment. Accenture got more publicity in the MSM than they ever could have hoped for from the sponsorship of the golf tournament.

Of course there has been the ongoing debate of when Tiger would come back and when he should come back. There were those that argued that he should stay away from the game for an extended period until he had somehow been purified. I got the feeling that some thought that he should retire from the game permanently as being proven unworthy of treading the fairways alongside of rest of the tour players who no doubt had been vetted and approved as his moral superiors.

They were further offended when Woods showed up practicing at Ilseworth as if that showed a further flaw in his character.

After all of the debate as to when he would return and the various speculations about which venue he would choose, he announced that he would return to play the 2010 Masters at Augusta.

Whoops! Wrong decision again. Making his debut at the Masters would be too disrespectful to the event with all of the media hype that would be involved. Ignoring of course the massive television coverage the tournament would generate.

But then it was felt that he should have shown some loyalty to Arnold Palmer and played in Palmer’s Bay Hill tournament prior to the Masters. Of course if he had, the criticisms would have been the same as for his decision to open with the Masters.

For the most part, the personal opinions emanating from professional golf writers has been bad enough, but the Tiger soap opera has morphed into such a major event (no pun intended there) that everyone with a computer has turned into a sports writer. Most of them not knowing a wedge from a wedgie.

An example of the previously mentioned schizophrenia is brilliantly manifested in an interview with Peter Arliss the British golf commentator (the pointer thanks to Geoff Shackleford, who, since the beginning of the Tiger debacle has bounced between being a golf journalist and a gossip  columnist).

Arliss can’t seem to make up his mind where he stands with Tiger.

“I’m surprised, in a way, they are letting him play there,” Alliss said. “It either shows they have a desire to be helpful or a weakness. It would have been rather grand — but would have perpetuated the stupidity of it — if they had said, ‘Sorry, we don’t want your sort here.’

Although –

… Alliss dismisses the notion that it is disrespectful to the other players for Woods to bring his circus to town in Masters week.

But –

…. he was withering in his condemnation of the 14-times major champion for choosing the middle of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February to make his first public statement since November, that cringing mea culpa. “Ernie Els was right when he used the word ‘selfish,’ ” Alliss said. “It was thoughtless and I didn’t like it.

Then again –

“But we’ve all done stupid things. If you are a red-blooded male and you’re chatted up by a decent-looking bird, it’s very hard to not say yes. It was a lot easier in my day. I remember some very famous golfers who used to book into hotels as Mr and Mrs.”

Does this mean that what Tiger did was not really wrong? Just bad timing?

And –

If anything sticks in Alliss’s craw it is doing daft things in your own backyard. He recalls an old-timer telling him never to “get tiddly” at a golf club. Little wonder, therefore, that he remains unimpressed with the behaviour of two of Great Britain’s finest golfers.

“My lasting memory is seeing Ian Woosnam come out of the front door at Augusta p***ed with Sam Torrance,” he said. “Both of them fell in the bushes and it wasn’t a very good sight. I thought, ‘Boys, boys. Get a couple of bottles and go home. Don’t get p***ed here.’

OK, so if Tiger has taken his adventures out of the country???

And on it goes.

As far as I’m concerned Tiger’s tragedy is in his own hands. If he doesn’t want to bare his soul to the ravening press then more power to him. All he really needs to provide us with is the opportunity to watch him play his spectacular game of golf.

I hope he come back strong to the game of golf and I hope he dominates the sport again. In fact I hope he wins the Masters in April.

But what I would really like to see is a swelling of applause for Woods the golfer as he steps onto the first tee.

Wouldn’t that make the naysayers choke on their morning toast.

Enough, enough with Tiger Woods

December 3, 2009

OK, I have had it with the Tiger Woods story. I am sick of instant experts being trotted out to tell me how Tiger OWES it to the public (read that to mean the media) to go public and tell all; bare his soul to the world.

Well Tiger isn’t going to do that – at least I hope he doesn’t get pressured into doing that. This is something that he has to deal with at home and privately. Why the hell would he come on TV and embarrass his wife and family further.

We have seen an endless line of politicians doing that, with the long-suffering wife standing beside them, giving their ‘support’ and forgiveness for the pol’s transgressions. How humiliating!

But Tiger isn’t looking to get re-elected or even keep his job. He is still the greatest golfer in the world and people will still come out in droves to watch him dominate.

Right now some idiot is on the golf channel spouting off that “we” need to see Tiger “ourselves” although I am not sure why. What Tiger does with his personal life is his business and has nothing to do with anything that affects me.

There is nothing that Woods can do about the media stories that have been written already nor those that will be written in the future. All he can do is control his own actions from here on in.

The only thing that blows me away – and this is not just with Tiger – is how these high profile athletes and politicians and the like really expect to step out of line and get away with it. Tiger has been called the most recognizable athlete in the world. Really, how dumb-assed was he to think that something like this wouldn’t become public at some point. I’m just surprised that it played out the way it did.

But this too will pass. It’s not like he’s the only rich and famous person to stray from the straight and narrow and he sure as hell won’t be the last.

Was it Lee Trevino who early on in Tiger’s career speculated that the only things that could stall Tiger’s march to become the greatest golfer in history was an injury or a bad marriage? So far he’s survived the injury.

Probably a damned good thing that Earl isn’t still around though.

Tiger on the comeback trail

March 17, 2009

A tie for 9th place and two weekend 68s at the WGC-CA tournament would indicate to me that Woods is on target to be a factor at the Masters.

One thing that went sideways for some of the commentators was the hype that Tiger could be knocked out of his place as the number 1 ranked golfer – provided Sergio Garcia won the WGC-CA and Tiger placed something like 27th or lower. Unfortunately Tiger and Sergio didn’t co-operate, with Tiger placing in the top 10 and Sergio tied for 31st. So much for that drama.

Watching the WGC-CA it was apparent that even if Tiger isn’t in contention, the Masters has the potential to be compelling with Mickelsen playing well and Villegas and McIlroy looking good – even though McIlroy did fade on the weekend at Doral.

There is a lot of great talent on the tour these days. It will be interesting to see if Woods can maintain his intimidation factor.

Winning Ugly

March 3, 2009

Early on in Tiger Woods’ career he was being interviewed after winning a golf tournamant and observed that he was really proud of his win as he had done so without his A game.

What surprised me was the crap that rained down on his young head for making that statement.

What further surprised me was that much of that criticism seemed to come from fellow professionals who apparently interpreted Woods’ remarks as implying that he was better than anyone else even when he wasn’t playing well and that he was simply showing a steak of arrogance.

But it seemed to me that other golf pros should have known exactly what Tiger was talking about: You win not by playing above your head for four days in a row but by not giving away the farm when things are not going exactly how you planned. You let the competition make the mistakes and try to at least minimize your own.

I was reminded of this while watching an interview with Geoff Ogilvie after his weekend win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“So there were periods there where I was, I knew I was a better player than my results were suggesting. Right now I think I’m achieving quite well. I know I can play a lot better. I played very well this weekend — I played the best 72 holes I’ve ever played at Kauri and I played this weekend, especially the last two days, it’s almost as if I played almost as good this week as I had there. So I could definitely, there’s definitely still some improvement there, I’m not going to say that I haven’t played really well this week, but there’s definitely improvement in my bad weeks, so I still think I can be a better player, maybe not — well I can be a better player when I’m playing badly. Does that make sense?

So I still think I’ve got a chance to grow. Tiger and those guys, that’s why he wins tournaments when he’s playing badly. I don’t get anywhere remotely close to winning a tournament when I’m playing badly. So those aspects I think I can do a lot of improvement.

Obviously Ogilvy understands the premise.

When Tiger Woods returns to golf

February 6, 2009

Tiger Woods’ return to the competitive golf scene is generating a bit of speculation. Originally it was thought that he would make his 2009 debut at the Masters in April. Now there is speculation that he will return the end of February to play in the WGC-Accenture match play.

Of course the real question is if he will come back on the tour with his old form intact.Most of the golf commentators seem to think that he will; their opinion based mostly on the fact that “it’s Tiger”.

There is no question that Woods is a highly motivated, intensely focused individual. His performance in winning the 2008 U.S. Open was an astounding effort. But I wonder if even Tiger can step back into the arena after an eight or nine month layoff, suppress any wayward thoughts of possibly re-injuring his leg and continue his domination right where he left off.

My prediction is that he doesn’t come back with his A-game but then again, he “is Tiger” and he has won before without it, because for all of his brilliance he is still a magnificent grinder.

The Masters may tell the tale.