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Archive for the ‘McIlroy’ Category

We’ve all felt it. A tightening of the muscles around the neck. A lump in the throat. A rising of blood to the forehead. A quickening heartbeat. Sweaty palms. In golf, it’s particularly troublesome, we are told. It’s a game that requires precision timing and coordination. It requires being in the moment, dealing only with the matter at hand, namely wielding an unwieldy metal club, attempting to hit a small white dimpled ball to a target over 300 yards away. Any tightening, sweating, beating, or blood rising beyond the norm will truncate that process and dynamite any chance for success. We feel it elsewhere too, like at work when the our supervisor comes by and asks to have a “word with you,” or when a cop pulls us over, or when our spouse “needs to talk.” Pressure greets us almost daily with its bared teeth and a scowl. An overdue phone bill. Noisy neighbors that need quieting. Humans have always known it. We have much experience dealing with it, yet it’s as difficult to handle now as it was in the caves of France thousands of years ago.

In golf, no tournament is as pressure packed as a match play event, like the one being played this week in the Arizona desert. Every hole is as pressure packed as the last, and the last may well be your last before your flight home. How do these guys handle it? How do they maintain their level of concentration? How do they keep their swings from crumbling (more…)

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I was watching the first couple of tournaments recently and was astounded at how lackluster the field was. I would guess the ratings were in the tank, as the only things that would draw viewers were the warm venues. Personally, I tuned into the match between Sam Snead and Bob Hope instead of seeking out David Toms and Mark Wilson. Over at the Champions Tour, there was Brad Bryant apologizing for his 65, more surprised than anyone that he chipped and putted his way to the top of the leaderboard. Tiger hadn’t started his season yet, flying off to Dubai for a huge appearance fee and a joust with the crackerjacks of the European Tour. This blog has predicted he will win just about everything this year, and has advised him to do so then quit competitive golf and concentrate on his foundation. Bobby Jones did this, as did Byron Nelson, and they had no sex scandals to face down. Whether Tiger stays or goes, professional golf goes downhill. He could stay and dominate, or he could go and fade away. Either way, golf suffers. The current crop in their late 20s and early 30s are not strong enough to hold up the high bar of professional golf on all levels of accomplishment. Woods was the last of the lot, and look at the bloody mess he left behind, an irreparable heap of emotional horsecrap laying by the side of the road. And please, don’t feed me all the sanctimonious BS about Tiger haters. I don’t hate Tiger. I’m angry at him for taking himself down along with the game he built up.

Golf requires what the Buddhists call impeccability, which is (more…)

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OK, it’s not a penalty (as I’ve discovered from a number of readers who’ve commented), but why does one of the best players in golf history have to resort to looking in another player’s bag. Have you ever seen Nicklaus do it? Or Palmer? Or Player? Or McIlroy? Or Greg Norman? Or Hogan? Or Tom Watson? Or any of the other greats (OK, I’ll admit Snead might have)? TV would’ve revealed it. And why would Woods care what Zach is hitting? Their games are just a tad different.

He looked in his bag because the day before he hit into the water, and the man is so obsessed with winning, he’ll do something seedy like that, just to get a little edge. It’s true: a decision related to one of the rules of golf says a player can visually look into another player’s bag, but Tiger Woods checking out Zach Johnson’s bag to make his club selection? Come on. Give me a break.

What kind of model is that for a kid in the First Tee? In golf, we play against the course, and we can look at that course and the weather from all sides to Sunday. That’s part of the game: size up your shot and make your own club selection, not go nosing around in someone else’s bag. It’s legal but it’s unethical. It’s against the spirit of the game. It’s sneaky. It’s legal but it shouldn’t be. Spitting on greens is legal also, but should Woods and Garcia have done this when they did?

OK, Tiger, go ahead and keep your Chevron trophy, but play your own game, pal.

And one more thing: When Zach Johnson walked towards the first tee at the final round of the Chevron, he stopped to shake the hand of each tournament official who stood there by the grandstand. Class.

Tiger Woods walked to that same tee just after Zach and ignored all the officials. Ass.

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How many times have you scored a triple bogey and essentially given up on the round? I’ve even stopped keeping score I’ve been so demoralized. Keegan Bradley, after chipping into the water, had a triple on the 15th hole on the last day of the 2011 PGA Championship–the first major he’d ever played in–and came back to win the tournament. That takes guts and courage and the ability to never say die, traits any golfer could use more of. These are traits of the mind, traits of character, traits of a person who can turn adversity into the seed of an equal or greater benefit. After Bradley’s triple, he was five shots behind Jason Dufner, a 34 year old journeyman. Bradley then birdied his next two, one with a 40 foot putt, and parred the 18th, arguably the most difficult hole on tour. He tied Dufner in regulation, a gutsy feat that has to be one of the great comebacks in the history of the majors. How he did it is a lesson we can all learn from.

Simply said, in golf, as in life, you never give up. Golf tests the resiliency of the mind to come back after disaster. The mind is conditioned generally to give up rather than come back and try again. It’s an organ of memory and we tend to remember the bad (more…)

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In winning the 2011 U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy broke 12 records, the most significant of which was the number of strokes he took to do it: 268. The previous best: 272 by Jack Nicklaus. That is a monumental achievement. And this is the most endearing character in golf since Wee Bobby Jones. This man has talent, guts, and class. He looks the camera in the eye and answers whatever question put before him with honesty, sincerity, and wit. He is truly the real deal.

I expect he will win a fair share of majors. Is he the next Tiger Woods? No. He is Rory McIlroy, a man of much more integrity than Woods. Not only did Woods fail off the course, I suspect he used steroids to accomplish his feats on the course. Rory will have none of that nor any suspicion of that. This lad from Northern Ireland just loves golf, and shows it (more…)

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