March 30, 2009

That was some putt Tiger Woods made yesterday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, wasn’t it? Every time you think you’ve seen him do everything, to the point where if he doesn’t make a putt like that you’d be surprised, he still does something to make you check your head in awe.

Sure, Tiger’s had his share of final-hole dramas before, but this one was something special.

How amazing was it? It wasn’t just the fact that it was a 15-foot uphill putt to win a professional golf tournament – that’s hard enough (just ask Sean O’Hair), and Tiger’s already done that plenty of times. And it wasn’t just the fact that not just the whole golf world and plenty of interested viewers, but he himself was anxious as to when he’d get that first win after his knee surgery out of the way.

What made it truly amazing, unbelievable really – even for Tiger – was, as ESPN’s John Harig notes, it wasn’t just late in the day, when the grain and the speed would be that much more difficult to gauge, it was very late in the day – in fact, virtually dark:

…But when Woods stood over his ball, just 15 feet from the hole, I could not see the cup. Mind you, I was on sitting on a hill, looking down on the green, no more than 50 yards away. It was 7:45 p.m. ET, already a few minutes past sundown.

Television pictures of the dramatic scene made it appear as though there was plenty of light, but not so. The scoreboard across the pond was illuminated and cars parked in the grass across the way had their lights on. Flashbulbs were flickering throughout.

And he still makes that putt. Unbelievable! What makes Woods such a joy to watch is his total focus and competitive drive, not just to be the best in the world, but to dominate his sport. There are plenty of very good and very competitive players out there on the PGA Tour, but none have the competitive will and the all-consuming drive to dominate his sport like Tiger Woods.

Consider his competition yesterday. Sean O’Hair is a good player, perhaps someday even a very good player, but he looked like a scared kitten out there yesterday. I was saying to Tracey that the majority of the players out there are nothing but a bunch of spoiled pretty boys with nice swings and the product of nice college golf programs who have spent their lives playing other spoiled pretty boys with nice swings and college scholarships. But there’s a vast difference between the Sean O’Hairs of the world and Tiger Woods, one satisfied with being good and making solid paydays, the other consumed with winning to the point where if he finishes second he might as well have not been there at all. My guess is his win at this year’s Arnold Palmer will go down as one of his most satisfying ever.


On the other side of the coin you have the overwrought and over-hyped has-been known as Michelle Wie. Once a golf prodigy with “can’t miss” written all over her very attractive frame, she’s now just another cute college chick who is this close to becoming a golf has-been, bypassed by any number of 20-year olds who can go out on any given weekend on the LPGA Tour and shoot par or better. This weekend in Phoenix, you can bet Wie drew the majority of the crowds who watched her settle into a tie for 57th – 57th! at +8, a mere 22 strokes behind winner Karrie Webb.

But don’t worry, she’ll still be mentioned on The Golf Channel as if she were some mystical golf goddess instead of someone completely in denial of how far south her game has gone. No matter what she shoots – and this weekend, where she never even broke par, was no different – she always has the same excuses:

“It was a struggle,” she said [after shooting an second-round 76]. “It’s weird because I didn’t feel like I shot my score. I felt like I shot a lot better. Just a couple of missed putts here and there and a bad drive, but overall I felt pretty good. I just couldn’t make things happen, couldn’t get it going.”

Riiiight. Methinks Wie could learn a lesson or two from Tiger Woods – and not just on the golf course, either.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 23:28 | Comments (2)
  1. Watched the last few holes on Sunday when Tiger was one shot back with 4 to play. I knew right then he was going to win the whole thing, even after that trap shot on 17.

    Freakin’ amazing!

    On a golfing side note, have you been watching “The Haney Project” on the Golf Channel? Watching Hank Haney (Tiger’s swing guru) try to fix Charles Barkley’s miserable golf swing is very entertaining. I think they have a winner in this show.

    Comment by Dave Richard — March 31, 2009 @ 4:35 am

  2. I think it’s more interesting that shortly after Hank Haney started working on Charles’ swing he was arrested for DUI and spent three weekends in Sheriff Joe’s lockup. That’s what tinkering with your golf swing will do to you!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — March 31, 2009 @ 7:56 am

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