Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tiger's short game at Quail Hollow

My handicap fluctuates each year between 4 and 6, and even though I am a decent ball-striker, my short game continually holds me back. I like to blame this glaring weak spot on my absolute lack of practice. The only way to improve your chipping and putting is to work at it, and my "improvement" routine is I guess I can't really expect too much. After any round of golf I play with my dad, we like to speculate about what Tiger would have shot if he stepped in for me after my approach to each hole. Usually it's around ten strokes better than my final score. My 79's and 81's (after hitting 11 GIR's) would be 69's and 71's if only Mr. Woods were driving my short game bus.

But what happened to Tiger at last weekend's Quail Hollow Championship? His usually razor-sharp short game was duller than a butter knife! Three-putting at critical moments and lackluster scrambling was very un-Tiger-like, and reminded me of my own struggles. It just goes to show you that even the best in the world is prone to flailing with the finesse shots every now and then. What's amazing to me is that even when Tiger is wasting strokes, he's still right in the thick of things. You can't say that about too many other Tour pros.

Congratulations to Bubba Watson for his runner-up finish. As I've mentioned before in this blog, I get the opportunity to hang out on the road with him and his caddie, Ted Scott. They are hilarious, a couple of really good guys. Here's a little known trivia fact: Ted Scott is a former World Champion foosball player. He used to caddie for Paul Azinger, and taught Zinger all of the finer nuances of kickin' butt in foosball. During the week of the Ryder Cup, Captain Azinger played in a random underground foosball tournament in some basement in Louisville (and nobody recognized him). Zinger is a foosball fanatic now, thanks to Bubba's caddie.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Playoffs Are Here

Last week I was in the scoring trailer at The Barclays in New Jersey. Here are some random musings from the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs:

What are the odds that Sergio and Vijay both make long putts on the first extra hole to extend the sudden death playoff? I’ll bet my house against that one happening again. I saw Vijay in the parking lot after his victory and he said to me, “I told you I was the best, bro!” Uh, Veej, have you already forgotten about someone?

Ben Curtis, the laid-back Ohioan who has a clothing deal with the NFL, had a solid T-4 showing, alternating his wardrobe between Jets and Giants outfits. The results? Jets 71-70, Giants 68-68. After his final round, I asked him if he was more inspired by the Giants. Ben said, “I’m a Cleveland fan…period.”

On the Monday after the tournament, some colleagues and I headed east into Queens for the first round of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. We hung out there with Bubba Watson, who had bought one of those oversized tennis balls and had his caddie Ted get Elena Dementieva’s signature on it (a caddie’s work is never done). I asked him why in the world he was so excited about this Russian’s autograph. “Are you kidding?” he replied. “This girl won the Olympic gold in Beijing! She’s amazing!” He’s telling me this while simultaneously exchanging casual text messages with Tiger Woods, the most famous athlete on the planet. It’s interesting just what impresses certain people.

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