Tag Archives: PGA

Will Tiger Be Able to Claw His Way Back?

A waning professional golf career, his (ex)wife, his kids, his mistress(es), his scandal. Am I missing anything? When the scandal about Tiger Woods and his mistress first broke last November the world was sell-shocked. Actually, shell-shocked would probably be an understatement. The story continued to unbelievably unfold in front of our eyes as more and more women seemed to come out of the woodwork and share their story about sexual escapades with Tiger. Arguably the most talented, most famous, and most admired professional golfer (if not athlete in general) was suddenly another one of “those” professional athletes.

However mundane or serious they are, professional athletes’ mistakes are likely to be made public and are available to be scrutinized be everyone. I’m not going to lie, like most people, I absolutely admired Tiger and his game. His impenetrable mental toughness was something I envied and tried to incorporate into my own training. I looked at Tiger as a classy, humble, and respectable role model. Needless to say, I was devastated when the news of the scandal broke. One of my athletic role models suddenly crumbled and lost most of my respect right in front of my eyes. I understand that everybody makes mistakes, but it’s NEVER ok to cheat on your wife. EVER. Much less with 10 women! I don’t care who you are, what marital problems you’re having, how famous you are, or how much money you have… It’s not ok.

After not being selected for the 2010 Ryder Cup Team, the multi-million dollar question remains: Will Tiger ever be able to come back from his shocking scandal? I hate to say it, but I’m not sure that he can ever get back to the dominant force that he once was. I would be less concerned with Tiger’s ability to work his way back to the top of the golfing world if his problems circulated around physical issues rather than emotional and mental issues. With some kind of injury there is a process of rest and rehabilitation that usually gives promise to a full return. Progress is consistently made and there is a feeling of a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Progress can be physically seen and felt providing continued motivation to keep fighting to come back. With a traumatic emotional experience there is no guarantee of recovery. It’s much more difficult to handle an emotional problem than a physical one. Tiger’s mental toughness was one of his natural strong suits and was a big part of what gave him the edge over his competitors. Since the scandal broke, that mental toughness and stability has taken a serious hit. Can he get it back?

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Bunker Bummer

Neither the three-hole playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson that concluded the 2010 PGA Championship nor the implosion of Sunday morning’s leader, Nick Watney (who squandered a three-hole lead and finished with an 81 on the day) was the most substantial drama of the day in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. As Kaymer and Watson headed back out to Whistling Straits to determine who was going to take home the winner’s cup for the last Major of the year (and the $1,350,000 purse), Dustin Johnson was in the clubhouse using the bright pink end of a pencil to erase his score instead of the leaded end to sign his name and participate in the playoff as well. Johnson was penalized two strokes for “grounding” his club in a bunker he didn’t even know existed, which knocked him out of the playoff and down to fifth place.

  • Sidebar: Grounding– touching your club to the ground before your swing, WHILE HITTING OUT  OF A HAZARD. (A rule established for the obvious reason of the player’s potential to dig a divot to improve their lie in a hazard.)

Of course, Johnson was fully aware of the “grounding” rule, he just did not think it was applicable on this particular shot because the bunker did not have many characteristics of a legitimate bunker.  Not that I am a professional golfer or even aware of these intricate rules of the game, but watching this all fold out myself on TV, the “bunker” REALLY looked like just a gnarly patch of grass that needed to be tended to. There was no definite size or shape, there was no substantial lip, and the fans trampled right through it when being asked to move in order for Johnson to maneuver his shot. “I just thought I was on a piece of dirt that the crowd had trampled down. I never thought I was in a sand trap. It never once crossed my mind that I was in a bunker,” Johnson said afterwards. He handled the controversial situation like a champ.  He never tried to defend himself, he knew he had grounded his club he just wasn’t aware that he was in a hazard, and he made himself available to answer questions from the media.

HOW HEARTBREAKING! I know this guy maybe should have heeded the warnings about Whistling Straits’ over 1,000 designated “bunkers more carefully, but REALLY people?! It’s hard not to feel for the guy, and who designs a course with over 1,000 pointless bunkers anyways? Since he sat there and watched fans traipse across this patch of mangled grass with sand sprinkled in, why would he think this area was a hazard? When have you ever seen fans allowed to literally walk through an appointed bunker? That’s what I thought, never. Try that at Augusta and let me know how it turns out. I can tell ya that it probably ain’t gonna be pretty.

Silver lining of the situation (if you REALLY want to see it): If Johnson had made his putt on 18 during regulation he would have flat out “won” the tournament… and THEN he would have had it taken away. Better to have not tasted victory even a little bit in this situation, in my opinion.