Just when it looked like the
final round of the Masters was as
good as it could possibly get, it got better.
Could you believe that final
Thrills, spills, birdies
galore, careers being made and, sadly, the heartbreak that was Rory McIlroy’s
humiliating moment in the global spotlight.To his credit, when it was over, young Rory, who is still younger than half
the golf shirts in my closet, stood there and faced the media like a man.He had wilted under the suffocating pressure
and there was no denying it.He
didn’t try to.The good news is,
what doesn’t kill him will make him stronger.Rory will be back, and I am willing to bet, he will win the Masters within the next three years.
It was also good to see Tiger Woods hitting on all cylinders
for most of the final round.Only a
couple of weeks ago, he looked totally lost.Now, suddenly, we see glimmers of the Tiger of old.That bodes well for the U.S. Open.
CharlSchwartzel has a gorgeous golf swing and, obviously, and poise
under pressure.But his name looks
misspelled and before today I couldn’t pick him out in a police lineup. Personally,
I was rooting for, in this order: (1) Rory
McIlroy (2) Tiger
(3) Adam Scott (4) Luke Donald (5) Jason Day.
Still, it’s hard to be
disappointed when the Masters set
the tone for a great season of majors.
That obit was a good story Joe. Check out this piece by Buzz Bissinger, http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-14/tiger-woods-is-never-coming-back-despite-brief-masters-moment/#
[4/12/2011 10:23:51 AM]
Muni Golfer - Yes, a glimmer, albeit a faint glimmer. Check out the very good story I posted today by Cam Morfit today -- itís an obit for Tigerís aura.
[4/12/2011 10:21:44 AM]
Sports shrinks have won exactly the same number of majors as swing gurus.
Come to think of it, Iím not sure McIlroy even has a sports shrink. Heís not old enough to have become a head case yet, although if the Masters didnít turn him into one, I donít know what will.
[4/11/2011 5:46:48 PM]
McIlroy should fire his shrink. They all should fire their shrinks. How many majors have the shrinks won? The only reason they can take credit for anything is the fact that they have so many clients, somebody has to win. Do the golf writers ever think of that? It never made sense to me that the advice for a 54 hole leader is to hide from the pressure on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Wouldnít it be better to walk around in circles all night and get used to the pressure? Schwartzl, Day and Scott saved this yearís Masterís. Until the last couple of holes, it was really a quest for a winner by default.
The Muni Golfer
[4/11/2011 7:03:07 AM]
"Now, suddenly, we see glimmers of the Tiger of old." Hmmm, didnít we say the same thing after he finished 4th at The Masters last year? Only time will tell...
Woods shot 66 on Friday and moved to 7-under par and three shots off the
lead in the Masters, several people
have been kind enough to call or email to point out that I wrote in this space
a week ago that he is lost and has "no chance" to win a fifth green jacket this
Oh, how I hope me makes me eat my words.If golf needs anything right now, it is Tiger back on his game. Remember, I didn’t
say I wasn’t rooting for him; I just said I didn’t think his game looked sharp
enough to win.
It is looking more and more like we will ever
see him dominate the way he did at the peak of Tiger-mania.He’s 35
and not the same player anymore, and the guys he’s competing against these days
are young and fearless and crazy-long off the tee.If fact, if the sudden rejuvenation of Tiger is a major storyline this week,
so is what is increasingly looking like a changing of the guard at the top of
How can we not be impressed by the crop of
young players who are muscling their way onto the leaderboard and into the
Jason Day, Alvaro Quiros, Ricky Fowler, not to mention Dustin
Johnson, Gary Woodland and a
couple of others.These guys are
the next generation of stars. We should not be surprised at all
of young McIlroy
finds the poise to hold it together and win his first major.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s third round is crucial
for Tiger.So far this year in the reconstruction
of his game, weekends have not been overly kind to him.At the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey
Pines, he shot 74-75 in the third and fourth rounds and fell off the
leaderboard.At the Dubai Desert Classic, he shot 72-75.At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he went 74-72.
Another Saturday 74 for Tiger. It seems like he puts one, maybe two good rounds together, but also has a couple of over-par ones as well. I think the biggest problem in his game is his putting. Is he too young to have the yips? Considering what he has been through, I wouldnít be surprised if his nerves are playing a part in his putting.
Despite Wiebe’s career earnings of $7.5 million, it’s fair to say
that most of us likely think of him as no superstar, rather as a moderately
successful journeyman pro.
And yet, I am here to tell you that besides
being a gracious and likeable guy, Mark Wiebe plays at a level well above even a hot-shot
Over 18 holes at Fallen Oak – one of Tom Fazio’s
better courses, by the way – Wiebe hit long, towering tee shots that almost always found
the center of the fairway.More
impressive, however, were his second shots.
When you and I stand over a 4-iron shot in the
fairway, we hope to get the ball up around the green, in up-and-down range, or
on the green with a long putt, if we are lucky.
Wiebe, on the other hand, would
stand over a 4-iron (from about 20 yards behind where I hit 4-iron) and proceed
to launch a rocket that would sail higher and higher until it dropped straight
down out of the sky to 10 feet from the pin, settling 5 maybe feet from the
On par threes, with a mid- to short-iron in his
hand, he was all over the hole, always giving himself a makeable birdie putt.
The format for the pro-am was a "shamble,"
meaning we four amateurs all tee shots, then we picked the best of the bunch
and we all played out our own balls from there.Wiebe played his own ball the entire round.
On the green, Wiebe would let all of us
amateurs take our best shot at making the birdie for the team.If none of us converted, he would
attempt his own birdie putt. At least twice, we appeared to have no chance at
birdie, as Wiebe
faced a tricky 10- or 15-foot downhill, sidehill
Both times, Wiebe and his caddie, Brett, read the greens with skills that
elude me, factoring in speed and degree of break caused by the grain, even
recalling how a similar putt from the same spot broke in last year’s
Both times, Wiebe sank the putt and kept our
birdie run alive.
Did I mention Wiebe’s back was killing
him?He’s a big guy, 6-foot-3, 250
pounds with a lot of aches and pains.On the first tee, he said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the entire
round.By the fourth tee, he was
lying on his back, doing leg cross-over stretches.
After nine, when we headed to the 10th
said he needed a "little work" and headed to the fitness trailer.A few minutes later, he showed up on the
"I’m fine now," he said."They popped my back into place."
On the 14th, as we all agreed that
the course, the scenery, the weather, the setting sun couldn’t make for a finer
place to be at the moment, Wiebe said, "Welcome to my office."Then he smiled and drove off after his
Joe, I was fortunate enough to caddy in a Champions Tour event when I worked at the TPC Jasna Polana for the Instinet Classic. I caddied for a guy by the name of Steve Veriato. while he wasnít a big name on the Champions Tour, he showed me how the tour players play. He made his way around the course splitting every fairway and not missing a green. He posted a 67 and 68 with a bad back. He showed me slopes and back stops on the greens that I didnít know existed. Just because these guys are supposely old doensít mean they canít play golf. Glad you enjoyed your round in the Pro-am.
The Muni Golfer
[4/6/2011 6:28:00 AM]
Sounds like an AWESOME experience Joe! I find it incredible to watch these guys play live at a tournament. Can only imagine what it must look like "insideí the ropes.
The more I watch Tiger Woods fumbling his way around
golf courses, the more inconceivable I find it that a player of his skill,
success and confidence can be so totally lost.
C’mon, the guy has been a
natural and preordained superstar since the moment he picked up a club while he
was still in diapers.Add to that the
support system that was his parents, a work ethic that is second to none, a
competitive drive to match, and the result was that run of greatness that we
all got used, even began to take or granted.
So to see him mired in such
frustration and ordinariness now pretty much defies the imagination.How can he have gotten so lost?How can he have become so uncertain of
the most natural motion he has made in his 35 years -- his golf swing?Outwardly, he still tries to project a
certain bravado, but it’s all a front.The man must be desperate by now.
Friends of Tiger’s have said
that his primary emotion of these past 18 months is unspeakable shame and
humiliation.That’s understandable.Aside from Richard Nixon, who was
forced to resign the presidency during the Watergate scandal, it is hard to
name another public figure who has fallen so far, so fast, as Tiger.For that matter, at least before his
troubles, Nixon was already a controversial political figure.No so for Tiger, who had enjoyed an
unblemished climb to the top as the ultimate athlete, success story, role model
and corporate pitchman.
That he hit rock bottom and
lost his image and his family, was unfortunate but to be expected.You do the crime, you do the time.
But given Tiger’s incredible
ability to focus on the task at hand and to overcome all odds, I must say I imagined,
even hoped, he would rise up out of the ashes better than he has so far.We all know how badly he wants to win
again, to regain his old superiority, to reestablish some semblance of his old
So to see him self-destruct
with a 74-75 on the weekend, as he did at the Farmers Insurance Open, or shoot
74, as he did on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or watch him
finish bogey-double bogey on Sunday at Bay Hill...I don’t know; it just makes me
With the Masters a week
away, we are coming up on a year since Tiger’s return to competitive golf. I give
him virtually not shot to win.I
expect him to make the cut, maybe attract some attention with a 69 or Friday or
Saturday, then fade. I hate that I expect that.
Put me in the camp that
believes that if Tiger can resurrect his career, it will be the greatest story
of redemption and recovery in modern sports.I’m pulling for him.Not because I like what he did or have
any naive notions about who he is as a person.I’m only pulling for him because how can
you haven’t played your first round of the year yet, what are you waiting for?
hit my maiden tee shot at Talamore
CC last Saturday, when skies were clear and the thermometer was flirting
with 60.The fairways were
surprisingly full and green and the greens were slow but true, for this early
in the season. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to hit 58 and I’ve got 10:20 a.m. tee
the region, courses are awakening from their winter slumber, sprucing up as the
new season dawns.
off to a normal start," said Darin
Bevard, senior agronomist with the U.S. Golf Association’s Mid-Atlantic
office in Glen Mills."Most
courses are getting opened, if it would stop raining on them."
Whitemarsh Valley CC,
superintendent Tony Gustaitis
agreed."It’s a relatively normal
spring, except for the rain last night."
both Bevard and Gustaitis noted, yesterday’s day-long deluge, which ranged from
1½ to 3 inches, was a bit of a soggy setback.Some courses, including Whitemarsh, wereclosed today because of the deluge.
only need 2-3 days to dry out," said Bevard."But we need some warm weather. We
haven’t had any warm weather yet to speak of."
winters are harder than others on golf courses.Gustaitis
rated this winter as a 6 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worst. Bevard described this winter as pretty
much average.We had snow
cover for about seven weeks, from right after Christmas to late February. Snow
cover is not necessarily bad; it can a protective blanket for turf grass.The good news is, we didn’t get much in
the way of damaging ice storms.
most damage to courses resulted the wet, heavy snow we got back in late January
or early February, said Bevard.That caused tree damage at many courses,
as did high winds that whipped the region on several occasions.
are...well, this is still the first week or so of March," said Bevard."Most courses are okay but guys haven’t
had much chance to do much grooming."
are not the same everywhere.In the
Poconos, there are still some courses with snow.The Jersey Shore, on the other hand, is
a week to 10 days ahead of Philadelphia, said Bevard.
Shore doesn’t get as much snow as we do, and their courses drain a little
better – at least some of them do."
any weather setbacks, Bevard
predicts Spring-like conditions will arrive right on time, around April 1.
When the U.S.
Golf Association named Mike Davis
its new executive director on Tuesday, they not only picked a capable executive
and good guy, they chose someone who was instrumental in bringing the 2013 U.S. Open to Merion GC.
Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules
and competitions, had had his eye on Merion for a while. A native of
Chambersburg, Pa., Davis was a longtime fan of the course and respectful of the
club's place in the game. He had also been in that original making-amends
meeting at Far Hills, so he knew the effort Merion was putting forth.
In the fall of 1998, Davis, then deputy to Tom Meeks,
had been invited to Merion to examine the changes, both underway and planned.
And there was something else.
"I was asked by Buddy [Marucci],
'Could you come down and tell our board why we can't have another Open?' "
recalls Davis. Therefore, it was not a trip Davis relished. "It is easier
telling somebody their kids are ugly," he says, "than telling them
their course can't hold an Open."
But a funny thing happened on that visit as Davis
played a round with Marucci, Iredale
and Greenwood: He became something of a believer in the possibilities for
Merion. He marveled at the improvements, especially the new tees and the
removal of trees that had clogged pedestrian traffic during the '81 Open.
As the Amateur approached, however, Davis
continued to visit. It was during one of those trips, in late 2001 or early
2002, over lunch in the Merion grillroom, that Davis dropped a bombshell. He
said he liked the changes so much he had broached the subject of trying to
figure a way to bring the Open to Merion with his boss, USGA executive director
"We were stunned," recalls Iredale.
Immediately, the conversation turned to the
outside-the-ropes obstacles. That's when someone at the table wondered aloud
about maybe using the acres and acres of wide-open space a stone's throw
away—the athletic fields at nearby Haverford College. During the '81
Open, those same fields had been used for parking. Why wouldn't they work for
corporate hospitality tents?
"We got up and went straight over to look at
it," says Iredale. The Haverford fields were
perfect, but given the scale of the modern Open, they would still need more
How about Merion's West Course, two minutes
further up Ardmore Avenue? And what about the mansions along Golf House Road,
adjacent to Merion? Could they put hospitality tents in their yards?
By the end of that day, Davis was all the more
convinced Merion could pull off another U.S. Open. Not a giant Open, such as
Bethpage or Pinehurst, with 45,000 spectators a day. But a smaller Open,
similar to Winged Foot, with room for 20,000 or 25,000 spectators per day.
"I remember it like it was yesterday,
walking into David Fay's office when I got back, saying, 'We can do this, we
can hold an Open at Merion,' " Davis recalls. Fay listened but was not
convinced. That soon changed, too, in September 2002, when Fay was invited to
be the keynote speaker at Merion's annual celebration of Jones' Slam, a day
that included golf and a black-tie gala.
During his round Fay
began to grasp all that Davis had been telling him. "You would have had to
be blind not to appreciate the changes that had been made," says Fay, who
suddenly was also in Merion's corner. Ultimately, though, the prospects hinged
on whether the logistics could be overcome and if Merion could stand up to the
longest hitters in the game.
After watching him go down in such ignominious fashion
to Thomas Bjorn in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, I think
it is time we all downgrade our expectations of Tiger Woods.
No longer does it appear to be an inevitable foregone
conclusion that he will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major
championship.It’s not even clear
that he will ever win again, never mind add to his current total of 14 majors.
We all wanted to believe it when his close pal John
Cook played a recent round with Tiger and pronounced him to be thisclose to
being back to his old self.Of
course, then came Match Play, letting the air our of that balloon.
The thing is, besides lacking confidence in his
new swing, Tiger seems to also lack confidence in himself – an assertion
that I cannot believe I just typed.For so long, Tiger was the most confident athlete in any sport in the
world – and justifiably so.Now, at 35, he has lost his swing, lost his swagger and lost his way.
Tiger didn’t win a tournament at all last year,
for the first time in his career.In
three tournaments so far this year, he finished tied for 44th at
Torrey Pines, a course he virtually owns, shooting 74-75 on the weekend; he finished 20th at the Dubai
Desert Classic, stumbling to 75. And then there Match Play.
This once invincible athlete suddenly appears so...vincible.If it is hard for us to watch, imagine
what it must be like for Tiger, unable to recapture the magic, no longer able
to wow us with ease.
Who ever thought in a million years this is
what would become to Tiger Woods.