Archive for category PGA

Tiger Needs a Hug

Like anyone else watching this last weekend’s action at the PGA Championship in Atlanta, Tiger Woods was sitting likely at home in Florida asking himself “who the hell are these guys?” Off mic, I am sure Jim Nantz was doing the same thing. No one has heard of any of these players before last weekend. I am picturing them standing outside the clubhouse begging security to let them in. Yet, one of them ended up winning the most

Tiger Woods

Tiger Savoring Victory

prestigious tournament in all of golf. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, displayed for the world one of the biggest meltdowns in professional sports. His game this week couldn’t have looked any worse if he played his two rounds drunk.  The look on Tiger’s face at points in his rounds looked like all he wanted was a hug. Along with finding that hug, he needs to find his game again.

Tiger is definitely healthier than we’ve seen him at any point in the last year or so. His leg looks good, he’s walking without a limp or the need to use his driver as a cane (it had to serve some purpose since he can’t find a fairway to save his life). Lord knows all the personal trials he’s been through the sordid details of mistress after mistress coming out of the shadows to say that at some point in time she’d slept with Tiger. We’ve seen the pictures and video from the scene of his Escalade meeting a fire hydrant and a tree. We all know the hell from which he has had to emerge. He could practically write the sequel to Dante’s Inferno at this point. We all know he took time off to deal with his personal demons and get those affairs settled. Now he can add physical health onto the list of completed items.

In all this, we’ve seen something I don’t think anyone has ever seen from Tiger. That would be humility. His recent transgressions and injuries have given him a new perspective on life and golf, I believe. He’s been better with the media. He’s had a different approach to his game. Even in his struggles, he appears to like the game more than he has in a long, long time. If he can get his game all working together—right now some days his iron play is great, others his driver cooperates, and others he actually gets along with his putter without the need of it ending up in a water hazard–he can not only enjoy the game, he can enjoy it returning to his dominating self. In the last 13 majors, there have been 13 different champions. No one person has been able to come along and say “I am the man. Come get some.”

What that will take is one more act of humility. I am sure that Sean Foley is a good swing coach. Good will not and should not cut it for Tiger Woods. He might be a more humble man than we saw in previous years. He is still a competitor. He still says he will not enter a tournament unless he believes he can win it. Sean Foley is good, Hank Haney and Butch Harmon are great. Tiger’s swing has golf balls going off on world tours. His putter is not cooperating. The difference is not his talent, but his confidence. There was just that extra something in his game under Harmon and Haney that made him an unbeatable, unstoppable force. Since Woods named Foley as his coach, he has won nothing. He has contended in nothing. The results under Haney and Harmon are unmistakable.

Under Butch Harmon, Woods won eight majors, including what are considered three of the most dominating major wins in the history of golf—1997 at the

Swing Coach Butch Harmon

Butch Harmon and Tiger Woods were in unstoppable force when they worked together

Masters, a win by 12 strokes. 2000 at the US Open played at Pebble Beach, a win by 15 strokes. 2000 at the Open Championship played at St. Andrews, a win by 8 strokes. His swing was a thing of beauty. His putter rarely if ever failed him. Tiger’s largest issue recently has been his inability to hit the ball straight off the tee. When the ball is going anywhere and everywhere, it is virtually impossible to get back on track, to put yourself into a position where you’re putting for eagle or birdie or even par. Bogies have become the norm for Tiger and that’s not who he was or can be again. Under Harmon, Tiger’s driving accuracy in six years of tutelage was 68.7%. Hit the ball straight, win the tournament.

Hank Haney offered Tiger much of the same as Butch Harmon. It was a slightly different approach to the game, but the effects were similar. In reality, Tiger hit the height of his career under Harmon, but his winning ways under Haney were nothing to sneeze at. He won his other 6 majors under Haney’s watchful eye. None of those, however, were by more than three shots. He also was slightly more inconsistent hitting accurately with Haney than with Harmon, though many players would kill for the 57.8% number during their roughly seven years together. Still pretty damn good.

Tiger Woods’ game is with the majority of his golf balls—in the rough, woods, and the water. It doesn’t really matter which of these guys he goes and gets. He needs someone to completely disassemble whatever it is he calls a golf swing right now and start all over again. We all know we won’t be seeing him between now and next season, probably sometime right before the Masters in April. There is an advantage with either of them and that is familiarity. They already know who they’re working with. They already know how he is wired. They know the tricks to get into his head. His swing

Hank Haney

Hank Haney and Tiger won multiple major championships together

issues are as much mental, hey try going through what he just did and think your game will be fine, and they can deal with those just as well. Haney was coaching Tiger upon the death of his father in 2006. Picture the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil on a golf course; that was Woods upon his return to play across two continents to end the season.

Tiger has done much to repair his image, his personality, and almost every part of his life following the bottom falling out Thanksgiving 2009. Seeing him play the last two weeks was painful. His game is in need of total reconstruction surgery. That look was apparent on Tiger’s face. His largest act of humility still awaits him this off-season—to go get that hug he needs from Hank or Butch.

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Caddies Should Be Seen, Not Heard

Caddy Stevie Williams

Adam Scott's caddy Stevie Williams is the center of controversy

I need to get this out of my system so I can enjoy all the great sports (hello NFL football!) the rest of this week brings, including the PGA Championship being played down in Atlanta. Stevie Williams needs to carry the bags, tell Adam Scott how far from the hole he is, and suggest a club to play. He needs to stop talking to the media. David Feherty should be suspended from both CBS and the Golf Channel for the remainder of the PGA season for giving us a soap opera Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, or the rest of us needed or wanted.

Adam Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational, not you Stevie Williams. You are there for to help Adam Scott decide which club to use, tell him where he is in relation to the hole, warn him of any dangers, suggest shots, offer moral support, and hand him a bottle of water when he needs it. That’s it. You don’t swing the club; you don’t make the final call on how a hole will be played. The check doesn’t get written to you. You didn’t make that masterful putt from 30 feet away. You didn’t blast it 300 yards down the middle of the fairway. You were masterful at handing Adam Scott the club he asked for and answering when he asked for a distance. You didn’t do anything earth shattering. Adam Scott did. His name is the one on the trophy.

I know that David Feherty asked you for an interview. You could have politely declined the request and deferred to Adam. He was, after all, the man who did win the tournament and should have the spotlight. Your feud with Tiger over when and how you were fired was of little consequence. Nearly every person in America can point to a time in their lives where they were fired from a job. Have you seen the economy and unempoloyment rate lately? No one cares. I don’t give a damn whether you were fired over the phone, in person, or by singing telegram. You were fired. The end. Instead of taking your lumps and allowing your new guy’s play to do the talking for the week, you decided to completely pull the rug from under Adam Scott  and his masterful win.

“There were a lot of expectations today. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. The people here this week have been absolutely unbelievable. And all the people back in New Zealand, including my family. It’s been the greatest week of my life. I’ve been caddying for 33 years and that’s the best week of my life…and I’m not joking.”

I have watched you live and on SportsCenter do some stupid things. I’ve seen you take cameras from cameramen doing their jobs. I’ve seen you get

2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Champ Adam Scott

Adam Scott found himself answering questions about his caddy instead of his win

into it with the gallery. This far and away takes the cake. Hell, it takes the rest of the bakery with it. There are fans, photographers, players, caddies, reporters, and PGA officials who all probably wanted a piece of you before last weekend. I think Sunday evening they’d have all stepped aside and let Adam Scott have the first pound of flesh. That he didn’t fire you on national television and is still going to pay you, you should go buy yourself a lottery ticket. There is only one person on the planet that was probably happy to see you act like you did and that was your previous employer, Tiger Woods. When he is asked, and he will be, he should have absolutely every liberty in the world to say “That was the reason I did what I did. His ego has gotten the better of him.”

Didn’t you, shortly after Tiger axed you say on New Zealand TV “You could say that I’ve wasted the last two years of my life…” Waste? Waste what? It’s not like Tiger not playing left you destitute on the street. In the dozen years you were with Woods, he earned more than $82 million in earnings on the golf course. At 10%, that’s $8.2 million into your pocket. Wasted? Really? You should be kissing the ground the man walks on. Just be glad you get to wear tennis shoes and not golf spikes. Those would REALLY hurt for all the time you’ve spent putting them in your mouth of late.

This could have been ended by you very quickly. When David Feherty shoved a microphone half way down your throat, you could have been your normal charming self and told him where to go, causing even the CBS censors to blush or you could have politely told him “You know, David. I am happy to help in this win, but you really should be over talking to Adam. He’s the man who won this golf tournament.” Over. Done. Kaput.

Speaking of David Feherty, he deserves some of the blame for the circus of this week. He made the decision to go speak with Stevie Williams, even though the only interview he should have requested (and did, and received) was with champion Adam Scott. He’s been around the game long enough. He was well aware that anything dealing with Tiger Woods would blow up. He was looking for a story; something juicy and gossipy to have something for the talk circuit leading up to the PGA Championship. It was completely uncalled for. Scott’s win and Tiger’s ineffectiveness were more than sufficient cooler talk.

And yes, I am serious. David Feherty was the main reason that Adam Scott wasn’t answering questions about his play or how he felt about the win or whether he felt the win gave him momentum heading into Atlanta this week, he spent most of the time talking about the most over-hyped, over

CBS/Golf Channel commentator David Ferhety began the firestorm sticking a mic in Stevie Williams' face

valued caddy in golf. This was his 8th win on Tour, and second biggest next to winning the 2004 Players Championship. He won by four shots, and his game was so smooth and had such confidence he could have played in his sleep. That should have been the things he spent his time talking about. David Feherty was a large part of why it was the last thing on everyone’s mind.

Adam Scott was denied his moment in the spotlight on one of the larger, more hallowed tournaments on the PGA calendar. David Feherty made him an afterthought. No caddy should ever be made larger than the golfer he works for. David Feherty was knocked down the first domino Sunday evening. He should have to pay for it. He knows better. He’s been a golf reporter forever now. He should sit the remainder of the season. Let someone who will respect the game have the interviews and make the calls he makes from the fairways and at the end of rounds.

Sunday evening was a disaster in every sense of the word. The best player last week won, don’t get me wrong. It would have been nice if the media and his caddy, for that matter, were paying attention to that. Tiger Woods and his trials, tribulations, and everything else aren’t news; the next generation of golfers taking the game by storm is. These kids haven’t taken crap from anyone else and they’re not about to start taking it from any caddy. If there were any doubt, the rule remains–caddies are seen, never heard.

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