Golf Gods Smile on Tinning

by Jeff Skinner

In between all the shopping, partying and NFL games this weekend there was an amazing amount of golf being played around the world.  At Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout there were a bunch of 59’s on the scoreboard with winners Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson carding one of them.  The former Ryder Cup adversaries hung on to win the two man team event and pocket $325,000 each.  That’s not a bad payday for a weekend in the sunshine with your pals.

On the European Tour, Pablo Martin staggered towards the finish but was able to finish two strokes clear of the field at The Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. Martin is a former Oklahoma State star and College Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.  It is his third career European Tour win.  Martin’s win actually counts as a win for the 2011 season, not this year.  The European Tour is like many of us golf fanatics: they can’t wait to play so they start the season a little early with their first two tournaments of 2011 taking place this month.  There’s nothing wrong with a little creative scheduling if it means more golf.

The Ladies European Tour held their final tournament of the year, The Dubai Ladies Masters at The Emirates Golf Club.  This is the same club where the European Tour holds the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Dubai looks like a fascinating place to play.  It’s the last opportunity for the European Ladies to notch a win and a chance for some Americans to cash an appearance fee check.  Michelle Wie competed despite an ailing back and her buddy Christina Kim was also there and both finished respectably.  However, the story of the tournament, as it should be was the winner.

Veteran Ladies European Tour Member, Iben Tinning rolled back the clock to find her form and claimed her sixth and final career win.  It’s a bittersweet moment for Tinning as she had announced that this would be her last professional tournament.  Tinning has been playing with a bad hip for some time and made the call to put the weekly grind of professional golf behind and spend more time with her caddy husband and their four year old son.

This had to be a tough decision for her as she has been as very successful European Tour golfer.  In 2005 she was the winner of the Ladies European Order of Merit and has played on the tour for fifteen years and has over $1.7 million in career earnings.  Her story was the highlight of the weekend for me.  For a professional athlete to recognize that it is their time to retire and then go out a winner in their last event is a rare occurrence indeed.  It’s like Ted Williams hitting a home run in his last at bat and then retiring.  In today’s world of win at all costs and the tendency to hang on for every last dollar to see Tinning know that it is her time and to exit victorious, on her terms is refreshing.

Take note Brett Farve: know when to say when.  Tinning had her day in the sun and she recognizes that it is her time to call it a day.  Her health and personal life are her priorities and she made the decision to step away from the limelight.  For Tinning to go out a winner is wonderful.  As we on the golf course like to say, “The Golf Gods give and the Golf Gods take.”  Iben Tinning made the shots but I can’t help but think The Golf Gods smiled upon her too.


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