Teed Off (10-06-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
This is one of those times when the Sunday Viet Nam News deadline of Thursday afternoon can really come back to bite me squarely in the butt.
The US Open will kick off this afternoon in California, which is the middle of the night here in Viet Nam and when this column is published, the tournament will be half over. So, whatever I write here could be either 100 per cent correct or dead wrong and make me look stupid.
So be it, I've never been afraid of being stupid before and, in fact, it is sometimes a blessing. So here we go…
OK, Tiger got the small monkey off his back, but while that is a bit of a relief, he still has to contend with the proverbial 800 pound gorilla which will still be there until he wins another major.
Could Tiger end up with the title BPTNWAM (Best Player To Never Win ANOTHER Major) ?
For one, despite his recent win at the Memorial, I am a bit sceptical because the US Open really isn't the kind of event you want to enter with a shaky game. The USGA sets up a course to expose and exploit a player's weaknesses and the Olympic Club is especially murderous.
On the other hand, Tiger does have the physical prowess and experience to do what is necessary to win on any course, provided he is mentally ready and that remains a big question.
Sure, he just won a tournament and that should give him a mental boost, but any Tour professional will tell you that everything changes in a Major. They all try to play the "just another tournament" mental games with themselves, but it almost never works.
Like most people, I'd like to see Tiger regain his form and make a run at Nicklaus's records, but I am not totally convinced that it will happen at the Olympic Club.
But this is not necessarily a disaster either. In my view, if Tiger doesn't win the US Open, but still makes a respectable showing, it will build his confidence and probably give him a better shot at The Open in July. It would give him a more firm foundation to stand on for the future.
I don't think Tiger will become another David Duval and his chip-in at the Memorial tournament demonstrated a bit of his former confidence and bravado. Of course, it could have been dumb luck in a desperate situation, but you never really know what it will take to kick start a winning streak.
Major league baseball players have been known to do almost anything to get out of a slump and some cures border on the ridiculous. Wearing lucky socks without washing them for weeks on end, sacrificing chickens, walking through doorways backwards and eating the same foods at the same time every day, the list is endless.
I maintain that Tiger's troubles are mostly in his head and his heart. So the chip-in could very easily be the spark that gets him rolling again. The problem is that confidence is slippery and all you have to do is hit one or two horrible shots to get you talking to yourself again and doubting your swing.
What I am certain is if / when once Tiger wins a major again, he'll return to normal form and trounce everything around him. But it will be interesting to see what he does after beating Nicklaus's records.
We'll see what happens.
Phil Mickelson withdrew from the memorial tournament after serious injury to his common sense. Apparently, a gallery full of idiots with cell phones clicking photos like locusts during his swing was a bit too much and I agree completely.
The PGA Tour, in an effort to make events more "user friendly" for spectators allows people to carry mobile phones. They are not allowed to shoot pics or make calls except from designated areas which will not disturb the players and they are supposed to keep their phones on "silent", but as we here in Viet Nam know from experience, this is never gonna happen, except at the Master's where they will chuck your butt off the premises in a heartbeat.
I'm waiting for the day an idiot sues the Tour because he claims carrying a bullhorn is his "Constitutional right".
And away we go…. — VNS