Teed Off (15-04-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
As usual, if its Thursday, it must be another airport.
Well, the Masters proved to be exciting from start to finish. The leaderboard looked like a roller coaster with so many top players grabbing the top slot, only to fall back a few holes later, but in the end, it was Bubba Watson with his big pink driver standing alone with the green jacket.
In my widest dreams, I would have never thought pink matches forest green.
What makes Bubba different than most players is he never took a golf lesson in his life. Something that astounded Tiger Woods in the past was how Bubba could work the ball in almost any direction he wants without a coach teaching him how to do it.
That also provides an insight into Tiger Woods, who provided the patrons with an epic tantrum in the third round when he launched a streak of blue language which would make a sailor embarrassed and then, later, drop-kicked his nine-iron 20 yards.
If there was any time that the Masters chairman would have been justified in calling a player aside and removing him from the tournament, that would have been it. It was disgraceful.
Like most people, I watched to see how Tiger would fare in the event, but despite his earlier return to form somewhat, I knew after the first nine holes of the tournament that he didn't have it together enough to win it. The old spark was missing and he didn't look comfortable at all.
While some people, including Tiger, will probably claim he's "still a work in progress", my personal feeling is that it has nothing to do with his swing and more to do with his heart and his head. I've said it a thousand times – if you're not at peace with yourself, you cannot possibly play good golf.
To analyse his swing, and thus his mindset, it appeared he was trying to force it, rather than just envisioning the shot and letting it fly.
In professional jargon, it appears he is suffering "paralysis by analysis", among other things.
During his heyday, Tiger wanted more than anything to refine his swing and get to a place where he was even more accurate than ever before. Sadly, the human body isn't able to function to the same parametres as a machine and impact the ball within hundredths of a degree every time. There is a point where human functionality just hits the wall. Going any better than that would put you on the levels of a superhuman.
When you start mucking around with what worked, you almost always take a chance that it won't be as good as before. Need proof? How many times have you reassembled something only to find one screw left over? Yup. It happens.
So, now Tiger seems to be focusing more on the technique, rather than the result and it aggravates me. Before, it was like "using the force. " This is where everything comes into harmony. You see the ball flying to the target long before you swing the club. But by focusing on just the swing, he has limited his "reach" and cannot see past his clubhead.
Contrast that with Bubba, who might not even know where the clubhead is during his swing and, more probably, doesn't give a damn. He focuses on the big picture – where he wants the ball to land and trusts his brain to conjure up something. This is playing golf by the seat of your pants.
Golf lessons would only destroy Bubba Watson and, by the same token, perhaps it's time for Tiger to start letting go of all the baggage he still totes around and start swinging from his heart instead of his head.
As mentioned at the top of the column, I have just arrived for the annual Norfolk Invitational tournament and this year Greg Norman will attend. This is not the first time the Shark has appeared in HCM City as he is the principle designer of SGCCR (Sai Gon Golf, Country Club and Residences), but it is always a thrill to see a legend in person.
Sadly, my putter DID make it off the plane, so anything goes this weekend. I'll let you know what happens next week. — VNS