Donations


Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Woods’

Darkness and Light

The Masters is magical.  The Augusta National Golf Club always has their course in pristine condition for Mr. Jones’ grand old tournament.  The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom and are gorgeous against the dark green hues of Georgia pines and freshly leafed deciduous trees and the closely mown fairways and putting greens.  The club membership rules the media with an iron fist, allowing only a certain number of minutes of advertising during each hour of telecasting.  The media adores the venue as they provide grand music on intros and exits and creative graphics and flowery words from color commentators, former players, and past champions.  Fans migrate to this special shining place in Georgia every year, and while it costs a mortgage payment to attend, once there the sites are profound, the food and drink is famously delicious and inexpensive, and the access to golf’s great past and present is awesome for the crowd who gather outside of the ropes.  It is golf’s Mecca.

But, as we stroll through the heavenly gates of this paradise and absorb the intended greatness and beauty we see an occasional dark smoky shadow pass through as profanity and ill-behavior come to the fore.  We watch in awe and wonder as one of the greatest golfers of all time goes to battle with the golf course, then wretch back instantly in revulsion when this same golfer spits a venomous God Damn It or throws his club and kicks it with disgust!  And we wonder, “Was I the only one to hear that? Was I the only one to see that?” as the commentators, former players, and past champions go on as if nothing happened.  Like a rotten seed in a bowl of rice, this warrior’s behavior belies the acts of a knight doing battle.  It is more recognizable as the rants of a frustrated toddler.  How do we cheer for this knight, rising from the depths of personal shame?  How do we enjoy his moments of brilliance when they are tainted with a continuing color of vulgarity and offensiveness?  We want to so badly, but he poisons his own well of greatness.  He is searching, that is clear.  It is not his golf swing that needs repair, but his soul.  The swing coaches of the world cannot help, others watching his motion cannot comment, he must look through his image in the mirror and find the real problems and seek to repair them.

Like King Arthur, we have come to both love and hate this bright knight Lancelot.  We abhor the darkness yet empathize and remain optimistic for his return to greatness and purity.

There are other dark clouds that waft around and through this mecca as well, they are waning, but still present and will be the subject of later discourse.

Matt Adams and Damn Near-isms, etc. etc. etc.

I was listening to Matt Adams this morning on Sirius/XM’s PGA Tour Channel “Fairways of Life” on my way to work and it struck me how many “Damn Near-isms” he managed to lay out there in the span of a couple of minutes. Matt was excited to talk with a caller about Rory McIlroy’s win at The Honda Classic and his becoming the number one ranked golfer in the world.  He was also incorporating the ongoing topic of a single hegemonic player versus player parity on the tour in the discourse.  (You know – was it better when Tiger was the lead dog or is it better now that so many different players can actually win each week? I would personally like to see another “big three!”)  Now, “Damn Near-isms” are nothing new for Matt. I hear them all of the time on the show, in fact there is one enduring “Damn Near-ism” that he just continues to use almost every other sentence.

I suppose it is time I tell you what a “Damn Near-ism” is.

Definition: Damn Near-ism – a word or phrase that when spoken or written elicits an initial or basic understanding of the intended meaning; however, when a quick mental review is made the listener/reader then realizes that the word or phrase was actually not quite right. Example: I love dogs, in fact, I once had a Labrador Repeater (intending Retriever).

So, in addition, Matt is a New York Times best selling author and I think sometimes he overplays the accomplished writer thing in his speech patterns and the language he uses.  For example, how many times do you use the word “thus” in normal conversation?  Play a drinking game during the show sometime and take a shot of tequila every time Matt says “thus.”  (“Thusly” counts…yeah, I know)  You’ll wake up the next day with a serious hangover, walking bowlegged, and sporting a tattoo of a spiked dog collar on your neck that you have no idea where it came from.  (Not my experience, but I hear Feherty spent a lot of money removing that tattoo.)  All this to say that once he gets excited, words just flow and sometimes they fit…and sometimes they don’t.  I’m just saying.

In the dialogue referenced in the first paragraph, Matt was excitedly waxing eloquent that since the “fall” of Tiger there has been great parity amongst the players on tour and that it has been “almost gladatorial” out there. I got the gist, but in my personal Scooby-Doo way I went, “huh?” to myself in the car. I knew there was something wrong and I was right – it is actually gladiatorial. He then pressed on to say that so far this year we have seen a resurgent Tiger, a resurgent Phil, and now Rory’s rise – it will surely be a “season of our content.” Okay, I get that too. And, I suppose one could say that it is a loosely appropriate reapplication of  Shakespeare’s “winter of our discontent” but, I am not so generous and it smacks of that “I am a best selling writer use of language and references thing.”   It is nothing less than a high brow “Damn Near-ism.”  Finally, the pizza resistance (I couldn’t resist). Matt is continuously ending his sentences with ex cetera, ex cetera, ex cetera.  Matt – it’s ET CETERA, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. Axe anyone!  Rent the 1956 movie “The King and I” and Yule Brynner (as the king) will clear it up. In fact and better yet, here’s a sound clip that should help: just click etc.

I love the show. I like listening because in many ways Matt and his call-in guests sound like the guys at the course talking about the week’s events on the PGA tour. Matt is very experienced in golf business and broadcasting and he is always informative.  It is interesting and sometimes funny to hear what people have to say when they call in and the commentary Matt provides as a result. And, if some of those conversations took place near me and we were the guys at the course, I would give the “Damn Near-ism” user no end of grief – on the spot. But, since I am a mere listener, I’m giving grief here.

Love the show, the banter, and the “Damn Near-isms.”  Can’t wait to hear the next one.

The Promise of the New Year – 2012

New Year 2012

It’s been a month or so since I posted.  Christmas is past us, we are in the new year…football is coming to and end, March madness is around the corner, and spring is coming soon!  It’s been a little frustrating watching the tour in Hawaii and California.  I just made a trip out west to Miramar, CA just north of Torrey Pines and was about 5 minutes from the Air Station golf course, but alas, I could only find time to visit the pro shop. 

Third Week of the Golfing Year

This week brings the 2012 debut of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, but in different tournaments.  Phil will play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (with Rickie and Bubba and Bill Haas and Keegan).  Also in the mix is JB Holmes!  This is his return to tournament golf since his brain surgery late last year.  He says he’s ready, I’ll cheer for his success with all the vigor I cheer for his (and my) favorite college basketball team – the UK Wildcats.  Tiger begins his season in Abu Dhabi, UAE at the HSBC Championship (with Luke, Lee, and Rory).  Some estimate that Tiger will receive $3 million just for showing up!  Let’s hope Tiger’s game of old also shows up and that his win late last year wasn’t an anomoly born from a short field and tired players.

Promise for the Rest of the Year

Ahhhh… so it begins with great wins in Hawaii and California for Steve Stricker, Johnson Wagner, and Mark Wilson.  Will Rickie finally win one at home?  There better be some wins this year for Watosh (me)!

Feinstein on Tiger… or Feinstein on Feinstein on Tiger

I read an article about Tiger Woods and the “Tiger Woods machine” yesterday in the most recent Golf Digest (Jan 12) by John Feinstein. Actually it was an excerpt from his new book One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game (GD gets the title wrong in their attribution of the article to the book) where he apparently writes about his personal encounters with high profile sports figures . Of course, I have not read the book, but only assume the rest of it reads like the GD article. In this article, entitled No One Tells Tiger Woods What to Do, he describes his encounters with Tiger and his “people” from 1994 to present. If the book is anything like the story, you’ll be reading John Feinstein’s thoughts on John Feinstein’s previous thoughts, stories and opinions about sports figures and his impression of how they reacted to these thoughts, stories and opinions.

I gained a little insight into Tiger’s world from the story, but really, is it any surprise that Tiger makes all his own decisions? The story really kind of smacked of Feinstein holding himself up as the victim as he attempted to do the “righteous work” of de-layering the Tiger onion for all of us. Is that what we really want? It is a mildly interesting story, but I don’t really care how hard it is for John to get one on one time with Tiger (or anyone else) in order to delve deeper into their personal lives and reasons behind decisions. These aren’t world leaders we are talking about, but sports figures, entertainers, people who perform ultimately for the entertainment of the rest of us. While I understand that personal lives influence performance – no greater example of that than Tiger’s failed marriage – I want my sports heroes to be viewed primarily in the light of performance.

This kind of reaches into the discussion of sports figures as role models. I am in the Charles Barkley camp on this one. Sure, there are going to be the occasional Tim Tebows that come along who one could hold up as a role model, but generally sports figures are normal human beings with the challenges and foibles all individuals have. They are not role models, but people who happen to have an unusual talent to do something. Why not just enjoy that!? Does it surprise anyone when a news story comes out that a NFL player has been arrested for this or for that? So what? He screwed up…like thousands of other people screw up in the world every day. Why is the sports figure any different than the rest of us except that he has been blessed with a particular talent to perform?

OK. So the story told me that Tiger and his camp is standoffish, that Tiger is smart, that Tiger’s dad was a “challenge,” and that Tiger made decisions and took some actions that Feinstein negatively opined about. What stands out in the article is Feinstein’s ability to tell a story so that he is always right and that , in this case anyway, Tiger would eventually realize that John was right.

Golf Digest screwed up. This wasn’t a story about Tiger, it was a story about Feinstein talking about Tiger and his life in such a way as to hold himself as the protagonist and the Team Tiger the antagonists…they should have had Feinstein caricatured throughout the pages rather than the Woods family.

Caddies – The Woods / Williams Saga

Caddies in Print

I recently bought a couple of books from Amazon.com about PGA caddies.  I am in the middle of “Piddler” Martin’s Caddie Confidential: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour.  Next I will read Rick Reilly’s Who’s Your Caddie? – great title.  The first thing that strikes me is that I can really identify with some of these characters.  Martin has introduced me to some caddies that could be pilots in the Marine Corps…a la Great Santini…callsigns (nicknames) and all.  “Piddler?”  What does that mean…or do I want to know?  “Junkman,” “Crispy,” “Reptile,” the Growler” (Ok, I think I know where this may have come from so I am glad the book doesn’t have an associated scratch and sniff!), “Cadillac,” etc…there are lots more.

I bought these books because my wife asked me a question about confidentiality clauses with caddies…do they have them?  I really didn’t know, and still don’t…yet.  I would guess that it depends on the player and the deals players and caddies strike.  In “Piddler’s” book, the work for most caddies seems so adhoc that I couldn’t imagine any kind of written agreement ever gets done except for maybe the really long term associations.  There also seems to be a kind of apparent camaraderie or esprit de corps amongst caddies.  At least that’s the feel I get from reading the stories to date.  It might be that the “caddie corps” used to have unwritten rules and professional standards of conduct where “tell-alls” are concerned, but Martin’s book is copyrighted in 2009, so since that’s the case it is likely to still be true.  Obviously, I still have a lot of questions.

Caddies and Tiger

Tiger hasn’t had many caddies.  Steve Williams has been with him since 1999 when Butch Harmon introduced them after Tiger fired “Fluff” Cowan.  I wonder what kind of agreement they had?  A lot of people are wondering.  Willams has a history of getting personally involved with his player.  He caddied for Greg Norman for several years until Norman fired him in 1989, but they remain friends.  Williams would later say he “got too close personally” with Norman – whatever that means – which resulted in the firing.  Williams and Woods were the best man at each other’s weddings.  Williams has been very protective of Tiger through the years and stood by him during Tiger’s personal debacle that has since been a major reason (aside from injury) for his fall from the list of top players in the world.

Caddies are People Too

Williams is no wall flower.  He speaks his mind and is not afraid to talk publically, especially in his native New Zealand, when asked about things.  He spoke disparagingly about Phil Mickelson in 2008 openly admitting an apparent mutual dislike between them.  He has most recently spoken openly about his recent firing by Tiger at the recent AT&T National.  Tiger apparently fired him because he was “disloyal.”  Williams, one of the world’s top caddies, had gained permission from Woods to caddy for Australian Adam Scott at the U.S. Open.  Later he caddied for Scott again, supposedly without permission, at the AT&T which apparently caused Tiger to take offense and ultimately let him go.

I am not sure how loyal a person has to be to keep Tiger’s affection and loyalty.  Stevie stayed beside him throughout his personal tribulations, has only worked for him through it all until the Adam Scott thing, which means not much in terms of tournament play.  Williams confessed that the timing of the firing coupled with the “disloyal” comments are what has thrown him – not necessarily the firing itself.  He “wasted the last two years…”  Apparently, for Tiger, it was time to add to his list of changes.  Change his personal conduct, change his perspective with his kids, change his conduct on course (not very successfully), change his swing coach, change his swing, change the way he deals with injury, and now change his caddy.  What’s next?

Bring in the Caddies

Who’s next?  How about “the Growler?”  Or perhaps “the Servant?”  Or maybe “the Ass Kisser?”  Word of advice caddies… keep it strictly professional.

Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

The U.S. Open is Coming Soon!

U.S. Open on Television

I do not blog for a living (some of you might say that that’s a good thing).   Yes, this is a business that I do on my free time, but of late my free time has been scarce.  Last Thursday I had knee surgery for something long overdue, a torn meniscus in my right knee.  It went well and I am recovering, and with that recovery comes some down time from my primary job that will free me to contribute as I watch this year’s U.S. Open on the couch.  I am really excited about the positive that brings to this down time from playing golf and other activities.

I love the U.S. Open

The first golf professional tournament (and only) I have ever attended was the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  Watching the players up close is worlds away from seeing them on TV.  It was a great experience, albeit wet and muddy.  Katie and I stayed in Manhattan and rode the “U.S.Open Train” in every day for the event.  I am targeting next year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco to visit once again.  I live relatively close to Congressional, but alas, priorities of life have superceded my presence there this year.

U.S. Open Story Lines

The story lines are many, to include the absence of Tiger (please let’s not dwell on this!), the rise of Luke Donald, the continuing battle for number 1, and the growing cadre of players who have closed the talent gap since Tiger’s fall and Phil’s apparent issues with performing.  Who is the favorite?  You have to like Steve Stricker and Luke Donald whose games are well suited for a U.S. Open set up.

Talking about story lines, let’s not forget Ken Venturi and his win at the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1964.  He prevailed even through his heat exhaustion and the warnings from his doctor.  It’s going to be another hot one this year, figuratively and in reality.  More later on the U.S. Open as the week goes on…

Golf Coaches and Owning Your Swing

Everyone is covering the “clash of the coaches.”  That is, the Sean Foley and Hank Haney thing.  But it is more than those two really, it’s also Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller, and I guess you could say Jack Nicklaus.  Lots of people are commenting on Tiger Woods’ difficulties and decision to retool his game at this point in his career, a third retooling I believe.  It is getting to the he said, they said place and is ridiculous.  Some are coming off as rich arrogant a-holes with more identity pride than common sense. 

But lets move past the “Tiger thing” for a moment and talk a little about swing coaches in general.  As quoted in the 28 March GolfWorld, Nicklaus talked about his teacher, Jack Grout, and his hands off approach during tournament prep and play. Grout believed and Nicklaus followed that a golfer needed to be in charge of his own swing.  He also referred to commentary received from Bobby Jones that “he only reached his potential after being less reliant on teacher Stewart Maiden.”  Also in the 28 March edition of GolfWorld, Jack Burke Jr.  commented in an unrelated story that  “I don’t think you can do anything well if you don’t teach it….A lot of the kids on the tour nowadays hire instructors, so they aren’t really thinking for themselves about their technique and how to improve.  They don’t trust themselves, and when things start going badly, they have nowhere to turn.  In the middle of a round, they can’t call their coach to come over and give them a tip…if the young fellas on tour now had some teaching experience, they could stand for themselves and be richer for it.  Ben Hogan didn’t have an instructor.  Neither did Byron Nelson or any of us from our generation.”  There is some old school wisdom for you.

I don’t know about instructing per se, but owning your own swing is something a pro had to do in those days, now many seem to delegate the responsibility to someone else.  Now back to Tiger – the question is however, how much is Tiger Woods “in charge of his own golf swing?”  How much influence do the swing gurus have on his changes when he changes?  Everyone knows that its helpful to have the right set of eyes on you and reinforcing commentary when tinkering with a swing.  (Although, Ben Hogan would tell you the flight of the ball says all you need to know.)  But, this is Tiger Woods and I believe he is in complete charge.  He is human and requires support and the expert set of eyes, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that he is a “product” of Harmon, Haney, or now Foley.   The problem I see here is not the coach, but the stuff between Tiger’s ears.  He seems to be on an ever present quest for perfection.  I am not sure that is not a Don Quixote endeavor, but it is in a way brave of him to  make the changes.  I’d like to see him chill out a little and have fun with his swing and his game.  I think he – and we – would be better for it.

Tiger, You Dropped Your Club

Tiger is on his way back.  And with the resurrection of his game comes the inevitable copiers of all things Tiger.  I hope that this next 7 week break for Tiger allows him to forget his favorite new habit, letting go of his club in the follow through when his shot doesn’t come off exactly as he foresaw.  It became an annoyinging commonplace event this week at Sherwood Country Club to see Tiger do just that.  Unfortunately, it may be too late.  He has been doing this throughout the year this year as he struggled to find his game.  While watching the play at the Q School earlier today I noted players also letting go of the club to let it drop unceremoniously when the shot didn’t come off as planned.  Almost always it seems the shots usually make the green when they do it (Tiger et al)!  How droll (sarcastically stated).

I hope it doesn’t catch.  How annoying it will be when playing to witness someone ahead doing so or even worse someone in my group doing so over an imperfect shot.  As if any of us actually hit more than one shot a round that is perfect in our own minds!  I used to witness friends throwing clubs years ago.  That habit seems to have been somewhat eliminated in recent years, probably as a result in the growing popularity of golf and the  marketing marvel of golf as a gentleman’s game.  You just don’t see folks tossing clubs anymore.  Now this.

Tiger please stop.  I really want to cheer for your comeback.  But part of your comeback has to be rooted in self-control.  The outbursts and the “club letting” you do don’t indicate that you have the self control you were once famous for.  Emotion is great, but at least keep your hands on the club. Otherwise, those 10 Million kids you say you have reached with your charity will all be letting go too!  Please stop.

World No. 1

In a story today by the Associated Press out of St. Andrews, Scotland it is reported that Lee Westwood will likely repace Tiger Woods at the number one spot at the end of the month.  That is, if Tiger stays with his game plan of not playing until the HSBC Champions event on November 4-7.  Westwood will not be playing until November either because of a right ankle injury. 

Tiger has been number one for more than 5 years, since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.  The shift at the beginning of Nov will be 279 weeks at number one.

Westwood suffered a calf injury during the French Open the first week in July causing swelling issues in his right ankle.  He has tried to fight through it but has withdrawn from a couple of events since.  Seems now, since Tiger doesn’t intend to play that he will cruise into the first spot without playing himself.

The HSBC Champions could shift number one again depending upon performance  by Tiger, Westwood, or Mickelson.