Woods announced that his big return to golf would be at this week’s WGC
Bridgestone Invitational, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would end up
eating my own words.My last blog
posting, after all, had been about my current indifference to Tiger and the future of his career.
Still, when he teed off at 1:40 in the first round on Thursday, I’d
be lying if I didn’t admit I had taken up my usual position in front of the
hi-def big screen, in my big leather chair. I had
to see what he would do.
So I watched, and I watched some more.
But then, something very strange happened.I got a little bored.Soon, I had my laptop on my lap, uploading
stories to MyPhillyGolf as I kept
one eye peeled to the TV.A few
minutes later, I was up puttering, loading the dishwasher, gathering up all the
old newspapers and magazines that tend to pile up around my chair.Next thing you know, I was away from the
TV altogether, upstairs throwing a load of washing into the washing machine.
True, I continued to pop downstairs to check on
the progress of Tiger’s round.But I wasn’t glued to the TV, like I used to be whenever he played.I wasn’t frozen in place, noting every
loose shot, evaluating every birdie opportunity.
Here’s the real kicker.Midway through Tiger’s back nine, I was totally disengaged.I switched off the TV and went to the
range to hit a bucket of balls.You
know, my own game over Tiger’s. It was clear by then he wasn’t going to shoot
64 and he wasn’t going to shoot 78, anyway.As the cops say in the movies, "Move
along, folks, nothing to see here."
The longer Tiger
Woods is missing in action, the less I miss him.My curiosity about him, the condition of
his leg/knee/Achilles, the state of his game and, of course, the timetable for
if and when he ever returns, stir very little interest or me these days.
If he shows up again, okay.If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.
Meanwhile, golf moves on, and I am finding
other people to watch and like.I
like this Rickie Fowler kid.I hate his hat.I hate the flat brim, and I hate the way
he pulls it down over his ears and his goofy haircut.I’m not crazy about those Kandy Kolored Kool-Aid Klothes he
wears, either.But, hey, Rickie could probably find a few nits
to pick with in my golfing ensemble, too, so I suppose it’s a wash.
What I like about Rickie is that he is exciting to watch.He’s got flare and style and he
goes for broke, like Phil Mickelson
at that age.I also have to admit I
was very wrong about Rickie.At the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines,
when he was still a hot-shot college amateur, I stood behind Rickie on the range for 30 minutes
watching him balls. I turned to my friend and said, "With that whippy,
home-made swing, no way he makes on the PGA Tour.Rickie
hasn’t won yet, but Rickie appears to be making it.
I also like Rory McIlroy.Gorgeous swing, hard-working, ambitious,
humble.Once he learns how to
handle all the fame and success that is going to come his way, Rory McIlroy
could easily settle in for a long run as No. 1 in the world.
Dustin Johnson I like watching but I cannot
figure out him out.He is
perhaps the best athlete on the golfing scene today, and he kills it the ball.Obviously, he has been at or near the
top of the leaderboard at most every major for the past couple of years, biding
him time for his big breakthrough.
But I don’t know what to make of that almost
vacant-look on Dustin Johnson’s face
so much of the time.I wonder what
he is thinking, if he is
thinking.I’ve sat through three or
four of his press conferences and I come away yearning for some of the
intelligence and sophistication you hear from the Australian players, like Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.
I don’t know who is going to winner a major
sooner, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day.My money is on Day.
It’s good to see Matt Kuchar finally coming into his own,
after a major swing change a couple of years ago.It’s also good to see Steve Stricker,
who is one of the most earnest guys on the planet, become one of the top
players in the world.I never would
have guessed Stricker
had it in him.
If you didn’t smile when Darren Clarke won the British
Open, then you haven’t followed golf or you haven’t been following Darren Clarke.
I’m also rooting for Phil Mickelson to remain competitive and maybe win another major,
preferably a fourth Masters.
John Daly?I lost interest.
ever returns and starts to mount some kind of career comeback, I might even
find it in my heart to pull for him.It would help if he would stop acting like a complete ass.
I would still root for Tiger Woods to get it back. The PGA Tour is more fun with him around. There may be a few hot players right now, but McIlroy is the only one with legs. It seems like every week the commentators of the Golf Channel are touting this weekís winner as the guy about to break through and contend in every major. It seems to me that the last few years, most of the major winners are guys that leapfrogged the "best contenders". (McDowell and Kaymer wouldnít fit that description, but they are mostly European players, not PGA Tour players). When I would look at a typical leaderboard, there arenít that many players I really care about. Take a look at the WGC leaderboard. Of the first couple dozen names, there arenít that many I really can get into. Some good guys, Iím sure, but does it really matter whether Jason Day or Adam Scott win? Adam Scott won The Playersí a couple years ago. Didnít make him a more compelling player one bit. Stewart Cink (cheater) won (I mean Tom Watson lost) the British Open 2 years ago. Yawn. Y.E. Yang took down Tiger (though now we know that Tiger was unravelling). Since then, anything?
[8/4/2011 9:15:03 AM]
The WGC event at Firestone is on TGC today at 1:30pm. Strangely enough, TWís tee time today is at 1:40pm.
[7/28/2011 6:59:06 AM]
I am so over Tiger.
[7/28/2011 6:17:33 AM]
Feeling the same way about Tiger. Never thought it would come to that but it has. Iím even using non Nike products which in the past was tantamount to sacriligeous.
Unfortunately, for me, no one has stepped up in both game and wardrobe.
The AT&T National might be gone from Aronimink GC, but never let it be said that
important developments in the life of Tiger Woods didn’t take place on the
learned after the fact that in 2010, the first of the two years Aronimink hosted
the AT&T, Tiger finalized the divorce agreement from ex-wife Elinfrom his cell phone, supposedly in the
the wake of Tigeraxing
long-time, loyal looperSteve Williams, we
learn that the actual face-to-face firing took place in the board room at Aronimink after
the final round of the 2011 AT&T.
a couple of it-happened-here plaques are in order.
I was cleaning out the basement late Sunday
afternoon as I pondered what I might write about the British Open and Darren
Clarke’s heartwarming and long-overdue victory, when I made a pleasant and
unexpected discovery.Back in the
corner, under a pile of junk, I came across my old pull cart.
When was the last time I saw this thing, let
alone used it?
My immediate reaction was to set it aside for
the trash truck on Monday morning, which I did.But as I returned to my cleaning and
rummaging, I kept thinking of the history this old cart and I have
It’s old and creaky and layered with crud.But when I stretched out its legs and
extended its arm, I could see there was still life in the old pull cart.A touch of arthritis, maybe, but no
serious sprains or broken bones.A
cleaning rag here, a drop of oil there, and it would be practically as good as
new.When I laid my son’s golf bag
into its waiting arms and gave it a whirl around the basement, I realized there
was no way I was parting with this valued relic from my golfing past.
I say it is mine, because it has been for the
past 40-plus years.Originally, it
was my late father’s.He passed it
on to me when I was in high school and he got a new one for himself.
My father was a firm believer in pull
carts.He loved golf, and he played
with a passion until he was almost 90. But to him, the game was as much about
the walk and the exercise as it was about hitting the ball – he walked
briskly and with a purpose.In all
our rounds together, I saw him ride in a cart maybe a half-dozen times, and it
was always at some fancy resort or vacation spot where carts were mandatory.He endured it like he was wearing a hair
I didn’t quite inherit my father’s insistence
on walking, although I did put thousands more miles on that pull cart.Why I have hung onto it for all these
years, through six states and 20 or more moves, I can’t say.Truth is, I wasn’t even aware I still
Sad to say, but I rarely see a pull cart these
days.Most courses want the revenue
from the carts.And young golfers,
if they walk, prefer to sling one of those new ultra-lite bags over their
shoulder.Who can blame them?Those bags are way cooler than a pull
It’s different in the UK.In all the golf I’ve played in Scotland,
England and Ireland, I can recall riding in a cart no more than three or four
times, usually at an Americanized resort such as the K Club.Many courses over there don’t even have riding
carts.Golf is a walking game over
there, and more than likely with a pull cart, or "trolley," as they call them.
I’m glad I found my old pull cart.I intend to nurse it back to health with
a cleaning and some oil, then take it for a spin.Like in the old days, I’ve got a feeling
my old cart and I are going to be spending a few late afternoons together.
I am a member of a club where pull carts are allowed in the late afternoon. That works for me because I like to play 9 holes after work. I never ride. I always walk with my pull cart. It is the best way to play golf. As far as I am concerned, it is the only way to play golf.
[7/19/2011 8:18:12 AM]
Acer3X, thatís what they do in the UK. Outside the golf shop, there is a fleet of trolleys, owned by the club/course, that rent for a pound or so.
[7/19/2011 5:35:41 AM]
The use of pull/push carts at private clubs is limited to those clubs that really donít what care others think- Merion West & Sunnybrook come to mind. Iím sure there are others in the area that allow them.Other clubs that allow walkers want them to carry their own bag if no caddies are available because of the "image problem"- that is that pull/push carts present a public course image. Why not have a uniform fleet and charge a modest rental fee to use them as Merion does at their West course?
[7/18/2011 11:25:15 AM]
Daddy would be proud that you kept it. I think the biggest fight I ever saw our parents have was over his refusal to rent a golf cart for them to ride and play in a Scotch foursome. He was serious about his walking, but then, maybe thatís why he lived to be almost 93.
I was out walking the course at the AT&T National on Thursday when I
happened to witness up close one of those shots that serves a reminder as to why
I type for living and those guys inside the ropes play golf for a living.
Technically, I suppose, Andres Romeo was outside
the ropes when he hit the shot in question, which is why I and a few others
were so close. But you get my point.
It happened at the 18th
at Aronimink, a 436-yard uphill par 4, where Romeo had hit his tee ball 296 yards, according to ShotLink.But he had sprayed it to the right, and
it come to rest in the trampled, light rough between the 18th and the adjoining
9th fairways.Romeo, an Argentinianwith one win on Tour, had 156 yards to the hole, and he was hemmed in by trees,
plus there was a bunker in the distance to negotiate.
I’m no PGA
Tour pro, but I’m a not half-bad amateur, and over the years I have watched
my share of PGA Tour pros hit
roughly a million golf shots in all kinds of situations. So I feel like I have a pretty decent
feel for what they can do, as opposed to I (and most amateurs), can do in these
To me, standing five feet from the ball, Romeo’s options appeared limited.Trying to go for the green by hitting
the ball up and over the trees was out of the question.The trees were way too close and too
tall.Tiger in his heyday, at his best,could not have hit that ball over those trees.
I also quickly dismissed the likelihood that Romero would try to thread the needle
of trees in the distance.For one
thing, they were too far off, and they were too close together.
(Don’t be fooled by the accompanying photo. I shot it with a telephoto lens, which
makes the trees appear closer than they really were.)
In my judgment, the only high-percentage chance
for Romero to save par was to take
his medicine and pitch back to the fairway to the left, at a 45-degree angle,
leaving him maybe 50 yards to the green.From there, he would have a decent chance of getting up-and-down for par,
or at least avoiding double-bogey.
If I or most amateurs I know were to attempt some
kind of hero shot from where his ball lay, the outcome would likely be one lf
(1) Bounce it off one of those trees, sending
it careening to the right, into the 18th fairway
(2) Hit it too high, straight into the trees,
whereupon the ball would drop straight down, most likely behind a tree trunk
(3) If I tried to thread the needle, in the unlikely
event that I kept it between the tree trunks and beneath the canopy of limbs
and leaves, I would have hit it directly into the bunker, which is 20 or 30
yards short of the green. No way I could hit a frozen-rope shot 125 yards,
eight feet off the ground.
and his caddie talked among themselves, it was clear from where they were
looking that my recommended safe play was not on their radar screen.At first, I thought Romeo was considering playing it out to the right, up the 18th
fairway, which didn’t make much sense to me.But no, as he settled in over the ball,
it became clear he was going for broke – he was going to try to thread
the needle of trees.
This should be good, I thought.Or bad.I gave him a 5- or 10-percent chance of
pulling it off.
Romero had what appeared to be a 7-
or 8-iron, and he hit a kind of punch shot.It only it took off like a rocket, low,
beneath the trees, and it was bending from right to left.
To my amazement, the ball split the trees
perfectly, and it had the oomph to clear the bunker in the distance; when it
hit the ground, it took off running, coming to rest in the rough behind the
I was stunned.So were the guys watching with me.Did he just do that?There was zero chance I or any of us could
have hit that shot. I would never even have attempted it.Plenty of Tour pros wouldn’t have chanced that shot. Yet, Romero shrugged at the result, as if it
came off exactly as he expected.
From there, he pitched to within six feet of
the hole and sank the putt to save par.
I’ll tell you what, sitting
through a Tiger Woods press
conference isn’t what it used to be.
Back in his heyday, the
media would assemble early, because seats in Tiger’s audience were at a premium, even at those big-tent major
championships.A back door to the
media center would open and in Tiger
would sweep, trailed by an entourage worthy of a hip-hop mogul: agents, swing
coaches, family, friends, security and at least a couple of people whose
purpose and connection were anybody’s guess.
would take his place at the head table and face the media like the royal family
looking out from that balcony at Will
and Kate’s wedding.When stirrings in the room settled down,
his agent, Mark Steinberg, over in
the corner, would offer a slight nod to the interview moderator as a signal to
No matter what the event
– the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship or some lesser event
that he was gracing with his presence – it was merely the stage for Tiger’s superhuman heroics.Even at Ryder Cups, where Tiger
would file in with his teammates, it will still pretty much about him.We knew that.He knew that.It was Tiger’s world and we were just living in it, watching in awe,
grateful for a seat.
Once the press conference
began, Tiger would make an opening
statement but he never said anything...Blah,
Even when the floor was
opened to questions, Tiger never
said anything provocative or revealing.But he was so smooth in saying nothing, you didn’t much notice until you
sat down at your laptop and started going over your notes.Is
there one usable quote here?
But it was okay, because Tiger had that aura of invincibility,
that ability to leave us shaking our heads in amazement.He did his talking with his golf
clubs.That gave you all the material you needed.
Cut to now.
At Aronimink, Tiger didn’t so much sweep into the press conference as he limped
in the side door.The entourage is
smaller, down to agent Mark Steinberg,
who recently got axed from IMG; and Tiger’s
spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, who left
Augusta National for this job
shortly before the Tiger Apocalypse.
press conferences are few and far between these days, and the audiences are
smaller.Some of it has to do with
the shrinking of the media due to the economy.More of it has to do with Tiger’s downfall, his disgrace, his
loss of popularity – and, of course, with the fact that he is not winning
and not even playing.
The first question at Aronimink was
about when he would return to competitive golf.The British
Open in two weeks?
didn’t know.Last time, he came
back too soon and he ended up quitting after nine holes at the Players Championship.This time, he is taking no chances,
taking his doctors’ advice, setting no timetables.He’ll come back when he’s ready and no
sooner, whenever that turns out to be.
He still tries to look and
talk and project like the Tiger of
old, but it’s not working.Very
unconvincing.It’s as if the air
has gone out of him. He seems
sapped, scared.There was something
approaching sadness in the room, like a funeral.
As I sat there, I couldn’t
help but think the whole thing would be more interesting and more productive if
Tiger had had to answer the "thought
bubble" questions hanging over people’s heads, not the questions they actually
Say, Tiger, did you see that latest poll where a
majority of golf fans think your career is toast?
Does it bother you knowing that every 20-something on
Tour these days thinks he can kick your ass?
One of the financial magazines says you’re still
making $70 million a year in endorsements.I don’t see it.Other than
Nike and EA, who is left?
Ah, do you ever lie in bed at night and ask yourself,
"How did I manage to screw up my life this bad?"
A couple of hours before Tiger’s press conference, I bumped into
a powerful agent who represents several top players.Quickly, the talk turned to Tiger.We shook our heads, neither of us able
to believe the gory details of one of the most spectacular downfalls in the
history of sports.
"The thing is, I don’t think
Tiger or Mark (Steinberg) understands how much the world has changed since
he hit that fire hydrant," said the agent. "I don’t think they get it.But believe me, the world has changed."
It has, and it’s a shame for
Tiger, for golf and for golf fans.