A tradition unlike any other

April 16, 2009
    I love golf. I love playing it, I love watching it, I love talking about it.  The Masters is golf’s biggest stage.  Last week, it lived up to its billing and yes, I loved every minute of it. 

    Kenny Perry, who is close to a year from being on the Champions Tour took on his good friend Chad Campbell and put on a show.  Perry, who had never one a major, found himself catching up to Campbell, even after he shot an opening round 65.

    Campbell started off the round unlike any other with five straight birdies, then started off the back nine with four straight.  Yeah, uh, that’s really good.  Not to be outmatched, Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry shot the lowest 54 hole score in seven years.

    To watch these guys tear up arguably one of the toughest courses in the U.S., really put things in perspective for me.  First and foremost, I’ll never be that good.  Probably not even in my dreams.  Second, Augusta National is the best venue to showcase the sport of golf. Third, it even was tough enough to stop the charge of Tiger and Phil.  Golf is such a funny sport. I think what I’ll remember about this years Masters is the three player, sudden death that was played.

    Campbell, Cabrera and Perry marched back to the tee box at 18 all tied up.  Perry had just hooked a drive into a bunker and worked his way back.  So, how would he respond?  He stood up, and pulled drive again.  Campbell put a nice shot into the fairway down the left side.  Perry followed.  Cabrera took a page out of the Jon Frank school of driving and put it on the right side into the trees. Toast right, thanks for playing Angel.  Wrong.  The next series of events made me realize that its one shot that keeps you coming back, or in Cabrera’s case, started the comeback.  Campbell’s shot went right but landed on the fairway.  Perry’s in the green side bunker.  Then Cabrera lined up his shot in the trees.  There was a small opening of light that Cabrera was looking to punch it through.  It didn’t go as planned.  Like a hacker he pounded it through the woods and off a tree.  From there, it was just fate that took over.  The shot landed on the fairway, dead center, starring down the fairway.  It was then that I thought Cabrera might just need to call his tailor.

    Now, if it were me, I would have pounded it off the trees, under a beer tent, or most likely into a water hazard on a neighboring hole.  Not these guys.  They just casually got up and down, putted in and sent Campbell home wondering.  Perry and Angel kept on moving though, for more free golf.  It was there that Cabrera iced it with a great putt.  Hello, green jacket.

    It was Perry though who still managed to steal the show.  It was his classy comments to the media that might have even overshadowed Cabrera’s first jacket.   Perry did what every American wants athlete’s to do.  Admit that he blew it and got beat by a better player.  His sincerity put the events into perspective, its only a game, and Kenny was still happy with his performance.   It was refreshing, vulnerable, and without spin.  Thanks Kenny.  You made The Masters easy to watch, and you were easy to root for.

    You’ll get one, eventually.


Did Tiger make the right decision?

June 23, 2008

By now, just about all of the world knows that Tiger Woods played an epic match with Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open this past weekend, that it took 19 additional holes, and that his knee was in horrendous shape the entire time.  Yesterday, ESPN announced that Tiger would be having season ending surgery to repair his ACL and give several stress fractures time to heal.

So did he make the right decision to tough it out and play?  Or did he sacrafice too much?

The ex-jock in me thinks that it is pretty admirable for a guy to even give it a go with a bum knee, let alone a guy that plays through pain during OT.  Especially in a day and age when pitchers sit out because of blisters, cagers sit the bench because of sore knees, and football players have any number of excuses these days.  Then to play for basically a week, where one of your main sources of power comes from your lower half, and to win.  That is the stuff legends are made of.  I would bet that almost NO athlete would have sat that one out.  That would have been the equivalent of Tom Brady hurting his thumb and not even trying to tough it out.  We all know that he wouldn’t.  Today’s athlete is too driven by winning to sit out.  I even read in the USA Today that after the doctor’s told Woods that usually recovery takes 12 months to get back to 100%, he still had the stones to mention that the British Open was only several weeks away.  Come on Tiger, I’d rather have you come back healthy and win 1,000 tournaments, then risk ending your career.

If you think about it, he really did put his career on the line.  After watching TIger’s swing and the amount of tourque that he puts on his body and the power that he generates, it very impressive.  Directly after the injury announcement ocurred, tons of swing coaches and “experts” were out talking about if Tiger would ever be the same.  One could argue, that Eldrick will have to totally re-do his swing so that he doesn’t injure his knee again.  Possibly take a little off of it in order to keep him upright and walking all the time.  Others said that he would probably make a full recovery, but would have to come back slowly when it came to getting into tournaments.  I kept saying, “Uh guys, its frickin’ Tiger Woods, he’ll be back.”  With ACL injuries, more often then not it comes down to the mental aspect of the athlete.   Some have no problem adjusting and can go about their business smoothly, with very little pain and chance for relapse.  Others, never come back, and are afraid to “open it up” all the way  during competiton.  The main reason, FEAR.  Fear drives them to think that they might hurt it again, have to go through 12 additional months of rehab, or worse, have to quit.  I mean think about it, have you ever had lower back pain?  Then it snows one day, and the first thing you think is, “well, I hope I don’t throw my back out.”  So from there you strap on you boots and go really slow.  Its just our nature to be a little precautious from time to tme.

However, we are talking about Tiger Woods here. Of course he made the right decision.  The guy is better on one leg then anyone.  If he could, he’d probably be getting ready for the British Open right now. He is one of the most mentally tough athletes on the planet.  His focus and drive maybe only second to Michael Jordan.  He is just too good not to come back, not to dominate, and not to win another 14 tournaments.  Plus he’s only 32.  In golfer age, that is probably in the prime of his career.    So I say, “take your time Tiger.”  When you come back next year, we’ll all be waiting to see your 320+ drives, 5-iron stingers, soft lob shots, and precision putting.  Then we’ll all complain that you sat out an entire year, and your still better then 100% of the populations.

Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s how his Dad used to mess with him…Courtesy of Nike…