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Rooting Against Tiger Woods

June 4th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

I love watching the pros play golf, I really do.  I’ll watch any tour, PGA, LPGA, Champions, Euro, Nationwide, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll watch and enjoy them all.  But I felt very strange yesterday as I watched a little of The Memorial.  For me this tournament ranks up there really close to the majors.  Seeing Jack Nicklaus showcase his baby, Muirfield, and listening to him all week is the best.  But yesterday brought out a side of me I didn’t like.

Most of the time I’ll cheer for whatever golfer is swinging the club.  It doesn’t matter who The Golf Channel or CBS is showing I am hoping that golfer executes a good shot.  Even when I am on the course, playing for a few bucks, I rarely root against my opponent.  I want them to make good shots but I want to make a better one.  However, during the short time I was watching the boys at Muirfield yesterday I was rooting against a golfer.  I was hoping he would make a poor shot and when he did I liked it.  I never thought it would come to this but I was rooting against Tiger Woods.

Last year at this time I was one of the gazillion Tiger fans.  Like everyone else I was amazed by his golfing skills and his mental toughness.  I knew we were watching a once in a lifetime golfer.  Even as he hunted down my hero Nicklaus, I couldn’t help but appreciate the greatness that was his.  But with his scandal revealing a man that was so contrary to his “image” I am finding it difficult to fall back in line with the other Tiger fans.

Is it wrong to root against Tiger?  I don’t know, but I don’t like the fact that he has brought out a darker side in me.  There are so many positive stories on the PGA Tour.  There are so many likable players, that’s one of the aspects that makes the tour so much fun to watch.  But Tiger was always fun to watch.  His ability to make the shot at the most pressure filled moment and his ability to always be in contention brought him more fans and adulation than any golfer ever.  But I am still having issues with him.  I guess I am still pissed off that I was dumb enough to buy into everything that Tiger sold us.  I am upset that he was able to perpetrate a hoax on me and millions of others.  I’ve seen Tiger play many times and there was nothing to compare it to when you are with him in person.  He was a rock star and the President all rolled into one.  The atmosphere was electric wherever he was.  I am upset that I was duped and cheated by Tiger.

Maybe it will pass in time, maybe not.  But if Tiger doesn’t scale back his arrogance and change his ways and show some humility like he said he was going to I am probably off the Tiger band wagon for good.  I’ll still appreciate his great shots on the course but I am still waiting for him to become a better man.  He may find his golf game soon enough but he has certainly lost his humanity and he needs to find it, soon.  I’ll hold off on cheering for him until he does.

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Scott, Pak and Green Seek Redemption

May 18th, 2010 1 comment

by Jeff Skinner

This past Sunday could have been billed as “Redemption Sunday” on the professional golf tours.  We saw two comebacks culminate in victory for two players that have struggled recently and watched another dramatic comeback, still in its infancy, continue to make huge progress.

Adam Scott had been billed as the next Greg Norman when he first came on to the PGA Tour.  Like his fellow Aussie he had a big game and his movie star good looks made him a crowd favorite.  It didn’t hurt that Norman had taken him under his wing and served as a mentor for Scott.  Prior to 2009 Scott had six PGA Tour wins including the 2004 Players Championship.  Then in 2009 he made headlines for his breakup with his long time girlfriend and all the famous, young women he was dating.  His golf game suffered as he only made nine of nineteen cuts on the tour and he finished 108th on the PGA Tour Money List.

A bold move by his mentor, Norman, changed his career.  Scott was selected by Norman to play for his President’s Cup Team.  It was that move that helped Scott’s confidence but it was his meeting with putting guru, Dave Stockton that really changed his game.  Scott spent thirty minutes with Stockton who had him move his hands forward at address to get the forward lean that Stockton thinks is critical for a good, consistent roll.  Scott finally had the confidence back in his game and it worked as he played wonderful golf and putted better than he had in years.  Scott collected his seventh PGA Tour win and a whole lot of confidence with the victory.

Se Ri Pak had started a revolution in South Korea when she turned on an entire country to women’s golf.  In her rookie year in 1998 she won four times on The LPGA including two majors, The US Open and The LPGA Championship.  She followed that with another four win season in 1999 had had back to back five win seasons in 2001 and 2002.  She was responsible for the explosion of golf in her home country and subjected to the pressures of being a national hero.  By 2007 she had amassed 24 wins, 5 major championships and admission to the World Golf Hall of Fame.  She was twenty four and the youngest player ever elected into The Hall of Fame.

2007 was the last season that Pak had a win on the LPGA Tour.  She has been going through some personal issues as well as searching for her game. After two years of searching she finally found it with her win at The Bell Micro Classic.  She was emotional after the win, “I’ve been here so many times, but I think I’ve been having a hard time the last couple of years,” Pak said. “I’m trying to get myself to better momentum. I work really hard every single day, every single moment, every single tournament. I knew this day was going to come. All I could do is be patient and work hard.” She shed a few tears and I’m sure a few were shed for her.  It’s a wonderful story: former great makes it back to the top.  Pak has never displayed anything other than class on the tour.  It has to be a very rewarding moment for her.

The real winner at The Champions Tour wasn’t Dan Forsman even though he did get the trophy and a nice check.  Ken Green continued his comeback to golf from his horrific RV accident.  This was his first individual event since he started playing again and each week has to be an emotional and physical strain.  Green had said his goal was to stay out of last place and he accomplished that by finishing T73 and besting three other players.

Green said the hilly course was difficult for him as he really hasn’t perfected his swing from an uneven lie.  He is the first golfer to play on tour with a prosthetic leg but for him he is just trying to get his old life back.  It’s less than a year since the accident and his competing is nothing less than miraculous.

“I’m pretty happy with the week. This is a tough course with the different lies you can get here. This is my first individual tournament in awhile where every shot counts. The one thing I have to keep remembering is it seems like it’s been an eternity, but it’s only been 11 months. I’ve done very little in terms of golf. It’s definitely a home run for me. I got through the week. I hit a lot of good shots and some bad ones. I’m happy with it. It’s encouraging that there is some hope that I can go out there and play some good golf. The support has been unbelievable. I can tell you how much it means to me when people come up to me and tell me that I’m an inspiration to them and that my story is wonderful. That gives me so much joy and happiness. It’s been a pretty tough time. When people come up and give me a boost of energy and love, it makes me feel good. The players have been wonderful. I was a little worried. I thought they would wonder why I’m playing, that I really shouldn’t be out here because I’m not playing good enough. They’ve been just the opposite. I misread the reception of the players and I’m glad I did. They’ve all said it’s wonderful for me to be out here, go ahead and play, it doesn’t matter what you shoot, you’re playing golf again.”

Green was known as a free spirit in his younger days on tour.  Today he is inspirational.  If he never wins again it won’t matter.  He is playing golf again and is trying to put his shattered life back together again. Green is attempting to rescue himself from the darkest time in his life. Regardless of his score, each week he tees it up he is a winner.

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Hank Haney Talks Tiger Woods

May 17th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The Golf Channel aired the full Jim Gray interview with Hank Haney last night and as usual Gray did a superb job.  He asked all the right questions and if Tiger Woods wasn’t going to be sitting down with Gray then Hank Haney is the next best choice.  Haney spent over 100 days per year over the last six years with Woods tweaking his swing and picking his brain.  He gave Gray some surprisingly honest and insightful answers to questions that Woods would never answer.  The fact that one of Tiger’s inner circle is speaking out is shocking.

Tiger has always insisted that his associates keep quiet about all things Tiger.  He has jettisoned an agent, caddy and swing coach for remarks made to the public or the fact that they were a little too forthcoming with information about Tiger.  With Haney, Woods had found the ultimate company man.  Prior to this he only spoke of Woods in positive terms and always skirted any sniff of controversy.  Haney knew enough to not “bite the hand that fed him.” With Haney’s resignation he was free to speak openly.  Gray asked him about being in Tiger’s inner circle and Haney said no one ever told him how to behave with the press but he did admit that Tiger liked to keep things private and it’s not easy being Tiger nor is it easy being in the inner circle.  In this interview we see an insider speak more openly about Woods than we have ever seen before.

One of the questions that Woods refused to answer many times was “What are you in therapy for?” His response was always a terse “It’s personal” followed by a glare and a “Next question.”  Haney actually says the previously forbidden words, sex addiction.  When Gray asked what Woods was in therapy for Haney seemed a little uncomfortable but said in an almost whisper of a voice, “The only thing I knew about was his issue with sex addiction.”  Woods can’t be happy with that.

Asked how much the scandal was effecting Woods he said “100%… it is effecting him, how could it not, he is a human being.”  He denies knowing anything about Tiger’s extracurricular activities but said he was there for a friend that needs help.  He thinks that if there was no scandal, Woods would be playing better and he would probably still be coaching Tiger.

Haney defended Tiger’s driving and even compared him to all of us that hit it well on the range but can’t bring it to the course.  Imagine that, Tiger has the same problems as we do.  I think not.

Gray got Haney to discuss Tiger’s reluctance to be open with the media and Haney said “I think Tiger would be better off if he was more open” but he also said he never wants to make any excuses for how he plays and that is part of the reason he doesn’t discuss his injuries more openly.

As far as the rumors about performance enhancing drugs he was adamant that Woods has not taken any and those rumors are “100% false.”  He did say there is a lot of jealousy on the tour but says he witnessed the blood spinning procedures and there was never any foreign substance put in Tiger’s body.

Haney was always a loyal Tiger supporter and did nothing but speak in encouraging and positive tones.  But he was disappointed with Tiger’s lack of support for him over the last few weeks. “I feel like I was treated well for the most part. Obviously, I took a lot of criticism and he could have stepped up, maybe a little more and been a little more supportive.”  It did bother him that Woods didn’t come to his defense when he was taking so much heat recently.

Haney insists it was his decision to resign and that he is still Tiger’s friend and will support him and help him anyway he can as a friend but his days as a coach for Tiger are done.

While Haney still insists that it was his decision to leave Woods you can’t help but think that the writing was on the wall and this was a mutual decision made by Hank and Tiger with Haney given the option of resigning before he was let go.  Haney says if Tiger were to call him he would help him, as a friend, with anything he asked.  If Tiger is still Tiger, and it looks like he is, I don’t think Hank has to worry about getting that call.  Tiger’s camp can’t be thrilled with the content of Haney’s remarks and Hank may have hurt any chance of remaining “Tiger’s friend” but at least we got an insider’s perspective from one of Tiger’s inner circle.

Link to full Golf Channel Interview

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Tiger’s Biggest Problem? Take Your Pick

May 14th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Last year during the third round of The Deutsche Championship I followed Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover for their entire round.  On one hole the tee was very isolated and roped off from the entire gallery.  The only one inside the ropes and a hundred yards away from anyone were Woods, Glover, their caddies, myself and one lone policeman on security duty.  It was the only time during the entire round that Tiger wasn’t surrounded by thousands of eyes.  We were so alone that Tiger did what many of us do while we are out on the course: he found a tree and relieved himself.  After the players pounded their drives down the fairway the cop and I walked behind them and chatted a bit.  We both decided that we wouldn’t mind having Tiger’s bank account but neither of us wanted any piece of his life.  His total lack of a normal life turned us both off.   Those were the good old days for Woods, before his dark, scandalous secret life was brought to light.

These days Woods is faced with more issues and problems than he can count and any “comeback” has been derailed by one dilemma after another.  It could be a long time before we see the “old Tiger” on the course.  Which difficulty will give Tiger the most trouble?  Take your pick.  There are no wrong answers here.

Tiger was used to having women whenever and wherever he liked.  It didn’t matter if it was an expensive hotel or the back of his car, if Tiger wanted a little action he got it, no matter what.  So now with his every move being followed by the tabloids and photographers he can’t expect the same “freedom” if you will.  If Team Tiger wasn’t involved with arranging his hook ups before (cough, cough) they must be now.  It probably takes as much planning as the D-Day Invasion at Normandy to get Tiger and one of his female friends together now.  Tiger’s sex life has probably changed a little bit from what it was before Thanksgiving.

Right now Tiger’s marriage is like one of his wayward drives: long gone and in deep trouble. According to all accounts, Tiger and Elin’s marriage looks to be over.  The delay in a divorce filing is said to be due to negotiations of the settlement.  A custody and financial arrangement needs to be agreed upon and it can be an exhausting and excruciating process.  Elin is said to be ready to take the children to her native Sweden where she wants to raise them away from the glare of the press.  Tiger supposedly isn’t willing to give up the kids and wants an agreement that allows him some type of custody.  Tack on the financial settlement, which probably will include a check with a whole bunch of zeros, and you get a distraction of the monumental kind.  As usual, there is nothing normal in Tiger’s life.

While many, including Tiger, may be focused on the Divorce/Custody settlement it’s the life after the divorce that could bring more stress into Tiger’s life.  Raising kids is tough enough under normal circumstances.  If Tiger wants to be a good father, in my book he has blown it so far, he’ll have many issues to deal with. Factor in his divorce, single parenting, the media spotlight, rebuilding a shattered career and a five thousand mile commute to pick up the kids and Tiger doesn’t have an easy road ahead of him as far as raising his kids.

Tiger’s neck injury is the most recent pothole on his road to playing good golf once again.  He is hoping to return to play at The Memorial but if his game hasn’t improved what’s the point.  Could his body be breaking down?  After years of brutal workouts and a million or two balls pounded it may be that his body has had enough.  The problem with speculating about Tiger’s health is that it is just that: speculating.  We are not sure of his physical status because he isn’t really being truthful about his condition.  He likes to say that he won’t comeback before he is physically ready to win, not just compete, but we have seen that not to be the case.  He returned to The Masters and claimed he was healthy.  After the second round of The Players he said he was fine, had no issues and was one hundred percent.  Then he withdraws during the third round and says his neck has been bothering him since before The Masters.  Can we believe anything that comes out of his mouth?

Tiger’s swing, his good swing, whether it’s The Harmon swing or The Haney swing, the swing he uses to make a ball do things only he can is nowhere to be found.  Sure, it looks like Hank Haney took one for the team here in resigning before Tiger lowered the boom himself, but Hank doesn’t swing the club.  Woods won six majors with Haney and that swing and Hank’s departure is more a sign that Tiger has lost confidence in his own swing than a reflection on Haney.  Maybe he needs a new coach or maybe he doesn’t and can go solo for awhile.  However, he has as much work to do on his swing as he has to do on rebuilding his personal life.  Either task is enough to consume one man, both together is a colossal chore.

In addition to Tiger’s ability to make a golf ball behave on command it was his mental toughness that further separated him from the rest of his contemporaries.  No golfer since Jack Nicklaus had the reputation of being a closer, a finisher like Tiger Woods has.  His reputation was good for a few strokes a side when he was in the final pairing on Sunday as he intimidated all comers, veterans and rookies alike.  If he needed a clutch putt for par or a creative shot to rescue him from trouble he rarely failed to execute it.  Everyone knows that if Tiger needed to sink a putt on Sunday at the eighteenth it was money in the bank.  His ability to focus, to almost will the ball in the hole is legendary.  Regaining his mental edge could be Tiger’s biggest challenge.

Stating that Tiger has a few distractions in his life may be the understatement of the year.  Any one of the issues that confront him is enough to overwhelm any man.  He has physical, personal, professional and mental issues all pulling at him.  A normal person would be hard pressed to recover from all this but as we know Tiger is anything but normal.  He is certainly flawed, with an insatiable appetite for certain off the course activities but no one can argue that he hasn’t had the mental strength to overcome challenges before.  The question here is: does he have enough left in his tank to climb out of this deep, deep hole?

Time will take care of some of his troubles.  People live with divorce and custody arrangements all the time.  He’ll be able to take care of his personal needs soon enough.  If he can get his body healthy again he’ll find his swing or create a new one to win a few more majors.  If his injuries persist he may not catch Jack’s eighteen majors a quickly as he likes.  But he’s only thirty four and he’ll have another ten solid years to get to nineteen majors.  It might be his mental edge that will be his biggest challenge.  How much stress and pressure can one person take?  For once in Tiger’s life he is not in control.  It is not a familiar position for Woods.  Tiger is an admitted control freak and right now he isn’t in control of much in his life.  This will be the toughest mental challenge of his life.  He would do well to take things slowly and get his personal life settled. He shouldn’t rush back to the gym or the course or the bars or anywhere.  All things must pass.  He could use a little patience for once, something that he rarely has a use for.  For Tiger things seem to take too long sometimes.  He is not good at taking it easy, he is never one to let things come to him.  He is a “type A personality” to the tenth power and he usually goes after want he wants and goes hard.  For him to deal with all these issues he’ll need a different tact.  Patience is a virtue and we have seen everything but virtuous behavior from Woods of late.  If a man ever needed a little virtue and a bit of patience it’s Tiger Woods.

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Hank Haney Wins By Leaving Tiger Woods

May 12th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The resignation of Hank Haney as Tiger Woods’ swing coach has finally put an end to all the rumors that were circulating about his relationship with Tiger.  You can call me crazy but I think Hank Haney is the big winner here.  Right now hanging out with Tiger Woods isn’t what is was in years past.  Tiger’s inner circle has never been so criticized or scrutinized.  For a guy like Haney who finds no joy in the media spotlight he has to feel a little relieved that he’ll no longer have to deal with all the baggage that goes along with coaching Tiger Woods.

Tiger enjoyed success with Haney over the past six years, 25 wins and six major championships, but their relationship has finally run its course.  After Tiger dumped the outspoken, media loving Butch Harmon he found “the Anti-Harmon” in Hank.  While Harmon loved to talk, Haney was reserved.  Where Harmon reveled in the glare of the media, Haney would avoid it as best he could.  Their methods were different, but their student flourished under both of them.

With Tiger’s life in pieces since November, everyone on Team Tiger had come under attack.  When Tiger couldn’t hit a fairway with a bucket of balls Haney became the media’s biggest target.  Hank knew where this was going to end, he was going to be let go, and he probably discussed it with Tiger.  So Haney, being Haney, takes the proactive approach and quits.  He puts it on himself and quits.  He won’t let his role in this soap opera of Tiger’s life continue and leaves what he called the greatest job in the world.  That’s Haney’s style.

One of the qualities of Hank that Tiger had to appreciate was his loyalty.  He never spoke out of turn, Tiger never tolerates that, and he was always positive about his relationship with the world’s number one golfer.  Woods was not treated kindly by Harmon after his departure and that has probably kept him off the list of candidates to replace Haney. (Hank Haney is not Butch Harmon.)

So while some may be asking what Tiger’s life after Haney will bring, I am wondering what Haney’s life after Tiger will be like.  I would imagine it is a bitter sweet time in Hank’s life.  He is out of the line of fire from Johnny Miller and the rest of the analysts that were calling for his dismissal but he’s gone from the job that most swing coaches would kill for.  Working with the best players in the world is what a guy at Haney’s level relish.  Haney’s career and bank account exploded during his time with Tiger.  The Golf Channel gave Hank three different shows, his golf schools were jammed and his profile was never higher.  He certainly owes much of his success to Woods and he acknowledges that.

Tiger will go on and find another coach and win again, as soon as he gets his head on straight.  I would think Haney would still have a successful career and maybe just enjoy life a little more without all the distractions that come with Tiger Woods.  These things happen in sports. Coaches and players separate and Hank has said it was just time to move on.  Woods will have to search high and low to find a guy that is as loyal and humble as Haney.

Woods and Haney both enjoyed professional success during their time together.  Tiger’s life right now is like living next to a nuclear power plant, you’re afraid that tomorrow could bring another meltdown.  Hank is probably breathing a sigh of relief.  He can kick back for awhile and he still has Ray Romano to work with.  I bet Romano is a heck of a lot more fun than Tiger Woods right now.

Check out Tim Rosaforte’s piece on Tiger and Hank.

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Tiger, Phil & The Most Important Players Championship Ever

May 6th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Forget all the debate about The Players Championship being the fifth major.  Disregard the debate about it being a bigger tournament then The World Golf Championships.   Here are the pertinent facts: There are four and only four majors. The WGC events are good tournaments.  The Players Championship is a great tournament with a great field on a great course, period.  We don’t need to label it anything other than The Players Championship.

However, this year’s Players Championship is a bit different.  This could be the most important week of the season for the PGA Tour.  This Players Championship could be the most important in its history.   Commissioner Tim Finchem relishes his chance to showcase his PGA Tour boys at his own TPC Sawgrass but he could be facing a very tough Monday if things don’t work out over these next four days.

If Phil Mickelson is playing some of the best golf of his career then Tiger Woods is playing the absolute worst golf of his.  Phil could dethrone Tiger from his world number one ranking with a win and a sixth place or worse finish by Tiger.  No one is playing better than Phil right now.  Tiger is playing like a man that has been through the wringer.  If they both continue to stay to their current form the tour could have a new look come Sunday night.

Woods has held the top spot in The World Rankings for an unimaginable 258 weeks.  Phil has never been able to get past the second slot.  Only David Duval and Vijay Singh have taken the number one slot from Woods.

It’s difficult to decide which would be the more significant event: Phil taking over the top spot or Tiger losing it.  Phil is generally accepted as the best golfer in the world right now and earning the top spot would be proof of that.  Tiger is facing a critical phase in his career.  If Woods does not play well at The Players it could be a sign of major troubles.  Woods missed cut last week and his inconsistent play have ignited speculation that the pressures of his personal situation have affected his golf game.  It’s not hard to imagine that with all Woods has been through that he could start to show some negative effects.

If Tiger continues his downward spiral on the course the PGA Tour would be losing its number one attraction.  Phil is well loved but Tiger drives the dollars for the tour, even a damaged Tiger.  If Phil wins his second Players Championship he’ll confirm his status and the best golfer in the world.  If Tiger plays well at The Players it will be a signal that his comeback is a work in progress.  If he finds his swing and manages to win it would once again prove that he is, well, that he is Tiger Woods.  If Tiger plays poorly or misses his second consecutive cut, the panic button will be pushed and Tiger will be in a slump the likes of which he has never seen.  Come Monday Finchem may wake up to see a new PGA Tour.

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Big Week for Tiger, Phil & Lorena

April 29th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

This is a big week in golf.  Tiger and Phil make their first appearance since The Masters with a world class field at the Quail Hollow Championship.  In the soap opera that has become Tiger’s season he’ll try and keep his world number one ranking as Phil tries to take him down.  Despite what Woods says about his schedule not being set it appears he is back to being a full time golfer.  There was no mention of “therapy” at his press conference and with his wife spending time in Sweden it looks like Tiger can focus his attention on golf.  Phil looks to continue his run he started at Augusta and a win this week or next week at The Players could make him number one in the world.  Can we start thinking “Grand Slam” yet?  All the pros love this course and there is talk that The PGA of America is contemplating holding a PGA Championship here.  The Golf Channel  carries the action at 2:00 pm EST.

The number one female player in the world is saying goodbye this week at The Tres Marias Championship in Mexico and we won’t even get to see it.  Lorena Ochoa is making her last planned start on the LPGA Tour and there is no television coverage in the United States.  That is one of the problems that new commissioner Michael Whan is dealing with this year: inconsistent television coverage.  This weekend instead of seeing an emotional Ochoa say farewell to the tour in her home country where she is worshiped we will be shown The Mojo 6 tournament that took place two weeks ago.  Can anyone figure out why the LPGA signed up for that deal?  The Mojo 6 looked like an interesting gig, with its “Raceway Golf” format but who cares when it is two weeks old.

The fact that Ochoa is walking away from golf in her prime is a body blow for the LPGA Tour.  Having no television coverage is rubbing salt in the wound.  Ochoa is a special player.  She had the skills to be the best at her craft.  She had the approachable manner that made her a world ambassador for women’s golf.  And she had the humility to never think she was bigger than the game, a tournament or any other player for that matter.  Ochoa is not just a special player, she’s a special person and there won’t be many dry eyes on Sunday as she walks up the eighteenth to finish her professional career.  She’ll be missed on tour, but she’s ready for a new phase in her life and is doing so on her own terms.  That’s rarely seen for such an accomplished athlete.

Check out Phil’s press conference or Tiger’s press conference and Lorena’s interview.

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Phil & Tiger Are Back: Forget the Blog Tiger, Just Play Golf

April 27th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

With Tiger and Phil joining the mere mortals of The PGA Tour this week at The Quail Hollow Championship the golf season is back in high gear.  Things always run a little hotter with Phil and Tiger in the field and since this is their first face off since The Masters all eyes will be focused on the two of them.

Last we saw Phil he was cruising through the Krispy Kreme with the kids wearing the green jacket.  That was a classic moment in “Phil History.” He’s been laying low spending time with family and probably trying out a few dozen drivers.

Last we heard from Tiger he was writing on his blog.  Yes, Tiger was writing on his blog. I didn’t even know he had a blog and I find it a little odd that Tiger would use one.  From the small number of  entries it looks like he posts very infrequently and this last post looks to be from the “new fan friendly” Tiger Woods.  From Tiger’s Blog:

I tried and wanted to interact with as many fans as I could. One little girl gave me a letter on the third tee, which was awfully sweet. I knew a few people in the gallery, including my mom, which was nice.

I received some criticism for bad language, which I apologized for immediately after Saturday’s round. It’s tough when you’re in a competitive environment and in the flow of a tournament. I’m not perfect. All I can say is I’m trying to do everything I can without losing my fire and competitive spirit.

It also felt great to be in the hunt again, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my game. I knew I needed to make a run, but I just didn’t have one in me. I had a terrible warm-up session Sunday, and it carried over to the first tee.

I find it all laughable.  For the most part the old Tiger wasn’t fan friendly, but he did have some moments.  He used the fans when it was convenient for him and most of the time they were an afterthought.  Now, since he is trying to rebuild his brand he feels the need to blog his little heart out.  Sorry Tiger…it rings hollow.  It sounds too forced, so forget trying to be all things to all the fans.  Here’s what you need to do:  Play golf, forget blogging, sign more autographs and treat the fans and the media like you are all partners in this thing, because you really are.  The days of Tiger making the rules are over, at least for awhile.

The PGA Tour needs the fans and for the first time in Tiger’s life he needs them too.  He needs them to cheer for him and to be there screaming for autographs.  He needs the average Joe to buy his hats and he needs the CEO’s to want a piece of Tiger again.  Tiger will never get to his second billion if he reverts back to his old ways of treating the fans and the media like they are second class citizens.  Forget the blogging and the excuses for your wayward shots.  Shut up and play golf.  Treat everyone like they are humans and maybe a little recognition for your fellow competitors would a nice touch.  There’s an easy way to win the fans back, just be human.  But Tiger has always had a hard time being human.

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Lorena’s Teary Farewell

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

We all can ask ourselves why someone like Lorena Ochoa would call it quits at the absolute pinnacle of her career.  A 28 year old golfer is just hitting their prime and to see one step away from the game causes you to stop and ask why?  All you need to do is to read any of the quotes from Ochoa’s press conference to see that she couldn’t be at a better place in her life right now.  She has accomplished her goals in golf and eagerly wants to move on to the next phase of her life: that of being a wife, mother and benefactor.

Quotes from Lorena’s press conference and interview with the LPGA:

“This is a very special day, full of happiness,” Ochoa said. “There are so many things that I will miss and this has not been an easy decision to make. But this is my moment and I dreamed of it this way.

“I am leaving the LPGA Tour as the top player, No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, so I am proud of myself and satisfied. I would like to thank so many people who have been by my side all these years, most of all my LPGA partners who welcomed me from my very first day on the Tour. When I started to play golf 23 years ago, I had the dream to become the best player in the world, to win many tournaments and this is why now is the best time to leave, full of great memories that I am going to share with my family for the rest of my life.”

I’m making this decision because all the elements are together. You know, to start, I always said that I wanted to play for some years, around ten years. And what I wanted to do is achieve my goals and to be the No. 1 player in the world. Retiring today or being at the top, you know, today is my anniversary for three years of being at the top in the Rolex World Rankings.

The second thing I always dreamed and I always wanted to finish here in Mexico. To be able to play my last tournament in front of my crowd, and in the moment of seeing them every day, and together to watch me playing my last tournament over here.

And third, well, finally, I just am ready to start a new life. You know, I just want to be a normal person. I just want to live like everyday things and be home, and be back with my family all the time that we lost in the last few years.

I’m ready to move on. You know, once you achieve your goals and you are at the top, it was good to me. But there are so many other things that I’d like to do. I’m really happy today, and I’m pleased. I’m 100% complete. It’s great news and I’m super happy.

I’m thanking everyone for their support and all the fans and for the LPGA, and people that have been watching my golf and following my career.

“I want to tell you I am very happy and I am feeling very peaceful,” she said. “The best present from God has been my foundation. My commitment to Mexican society is strong. Now, I am going to have more time with you.”

We don’t have to look too far to find the last leading golfer to retire near their prime. Annika Sorestam retired two years ago at age 37 while she was still contending for the top spot on tour. She also wanted to start her family.  Jim Brown and Barry Sanders, both NFL running backs, left in the prime of their careers.  Bryon Nelson at 34 called it quits to go home to live on his ranch only one year removed from his eleven straight wins.

The retirement that may compare closest to Ochoa’s could be that of Bobby Jones.  Jones left competitive golf when he was also 28 and had just completed his grand slam.  He was no doubt the best in the game at the time but realized that his personal life demanded more of his time.  Jones left golf to raise his family and earn a living as a lawyer.  Being the greatest amateur golfer brought fame but no fortune for Jones.  He was a man who was comfortable with his choices, much like Ochoa is.

Ochoa said it right, “This is a day full of happiness.”  Isn’t that what it should be all about?  Money and titles and fame can all be good things but being happy is really what it is all about.  To see Ochoa at a place in her life where she can leave the pressures of tour and travel is a wonder.  Few people at such a young age can say they are truly happy.  That’s the best gift a parent can give their child: knowing what makes them happy.  Hopefully Ochoa will be able to pass it on to her children.

The tour will miss her kind ways and gentle smile and she was as good an ambassador to the game as anyone.  Here’s hoping her new life will bring her all the health and happiness she deserves.

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Ken Green Makes His Comeback This Week

April 20th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

For the four months prior to The Masters much of the world’s media, and all of golf’s media, were focused on the comeback of Tiger Woods from the biggest scandal in golf history.  This week we will be witness to another comeback to the course as Ken Green will make his first appearance on The Champions Tour since his horrific accident last June.  There won’t be any non-golf media at The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, after all Ken Green is not Tiger but his story is something more of us could understand and relate to.

Green was in the midst of his own comeback to golf last year on The Champions Tour when his motor home crashed killing his girlfriend, his brother and his dog.  Green has said they were the three most important things in his life.  Green had serious injuries from the accident which included a crushed eye socket and a mangled left leg.  When he was told the leg could be saved but would not be functional he choose to have it amputated.  He knew his chances of playing golf at the professional level were better with a left leg that worked, even if it was a prosthetic one.

Green has seen tough times in his personal and professional life before.  He was a successful tour player (five wins in the late 80’s) that lived in the fast lane for awhile and had to deal with a drinking problem and depression.  As he approached fifty he made a commitment to play golf again and had been living his dream of competing on the Champions Tour.  He has also had to deal with the death of his estranged, 21 year old son in January.  It hasn’t been at all easy for Green.

Green had asked for a “major medical” exemption from The Champions Tour so he could keep playing for the months he had missed due to the injury.  In what can best be described as odd, he was denied the exemption.  It seems that since Green was not a fully exempt player he did not qualify.  The exemption is open only to players in the categories of top 30 money winners from the previous season and winners from the current year.  So Green was denied the exemption.  If there ever was a “major medical” issue I would think this would qualify.  Green wasn’t thrilled by the decision but will play until his status expires in July and rely on sponsor’s exemptions to get in other tournaments this season.

Green and his comeback will not make the front page of the tabloids or be covered by TMZ or People Magazine but his story is more compelling and sympathetic than the Tiger Scandal.  Green has many friends on the tour and they’ll all be thrilled to welcome him back to play this weekend.  It will be a long and painful odyssey for Green but he’s determined to play on tour again.  He says he was put in this position for a reason and he’ll do his best to play golf and just try to be a normal player on tour.  In my book playing professional golf with a prosthetic leg is anything but normal.  Good luck to Ken Green this weekend.  Let’s hope this year will be a little easier than his last.

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