by Jeff Skinner
1. They like to call The Players the fifth major and that’s a debatable point. But what Tiger showed us yesterday was that even on a course where he has only limited success he can still get it done. Two wins at TPS Sawgrass may get an average golfer into the Hall of Fame but in Tiger’s world Sawgrass is still a course he only tolerates.
2. Jeff Maggert’s appearance among the leaders showed two things. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass can be played successfully by straight hitters and long bombers alike. And for a 49 year old to be able to hang with the best field of the year shows that there is still game in those “old” bones.
3. Somebody call Tony Robbins and hook him up with Sergio Garcia. If there is a player more in need of a mental coach than Sergio I’d be shocked. We all complain about the player’s reliance on sports psychologists and mental gurus but poor Sergio needs help, big time help.
4. What was missing from the broadcast yesterday? Tiger’s driver. Tiger pulled the game plan from his Open Championship at Hoylake when he avoided the driver like it had the plague. Hitting fairway woods and irons of the tees he hit 68% of the fairways and 76% of the greens in regulation. But that poses the question…should a true test of golf demand that players use the driver?
5. Cheers to PGA Tour rookie David Lingmerth for hanging with the big boys. The native of Sweden by way of the University of Arkansas just wouldn’t go away. Just when we thought he would fade as he made a bogey he would bounce back with a birdie. His bogey at 18 cost him a playoff with Tiger and a bunch of cash but he still earned over $700,000 and probably earned his card for next season.
6. Maggert’s time at Sawgrass is bittersweet. In 2008 after his first round he got word that his brother had been killed in a plane crash as he was flying to his son’s college graduation. Even though he slipped at the finish maybe this week’s performance can give Maggert some new, better memories of the Stadium Course.
7. Henrik Stenson’s climb back into the world’s elite has to be satisfying for the Swede. Stenson has battled back from a case of the full swing yips. A few years back he withdrew from the Open Championship because he said he “couldn’t even take a backswing with the driver.” He tumbled down to in the World Rankings to 230th but has worked his way back and is now 32nd in the world.
8. Tiger versus Sergio was the big story on Saturday and the final outcome at The Players represents the nature of the two players. Woods has the thickest of skins, Sergio has the thinnest. Sergio called himself the victim and while he may have been he has to know that saying that will only bring him more criticism. True, we appluad players when they are honest and open to the press but he Sergio’s case he needs to understand that this “everything happens to me” attitude is self destructive.
9. Here’s the difference between Tiger and Sergio. Sergio hits a shot with a bad result and looks to the heavens and cries “Why me?” Tiger hits a poor shot and screams “F**K” and moves on to the next shot with a vengeance. True, Woods is known as a bully to some of his player partners but Sergio needs grow a pair.
10. Sunday’s finish at The Players Championship was riveting television. But for awhile there it looked like Tiger may coast in but that shot on fourteen brought the field back in. But how many fans would have been tuned in for a playoff between Jeff Maggert, Sergio Garcia and David Lingmerth… not many. Once again it was Tim Finchem’s favorite player to the rescue, Tiger Woods. Maybe Tim can consider this payment for letting Tiger stage his “press conference” here back when Tiger was emerging from his scandal.
Last one. My Links Life Golf colleague, G. Rennie, was disappointed that Vijay Singh missed the cut. It was his wish to see Vijay win and have Tim Finchem present the Players trophy to Singh. It would have been the most uncomfortable presentation since Pete Roselle had to smile while handing Al Davis the Lombardi Trophy.