with Robert Bicknell
Well, it seems that every day we are reminded that French novelist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, was absolutely correct.
"The more things change, the more they remain the same."
Unless you've been living in a cave, you have undoubtedly heard that the highly anticipated launch of "Tiger 2.0" hit a major snag in Abu Dhabi when he lost an event he was salivating about for weeks, the HSBC Championship, to Robert Rock.
Need to stagger a Tiger, throw a Rock at him. Yup…it works occasionally.
I first came to know of Robert Rock when he shot an opening round of 70 in the 2011 US Open despite only arriving in country 12 hours earlier, due to visa problems. Hey, welcome to the club, Rocky.
The crowd loved him and, to be honest, it seemed that he plays a solid yet unassuming game. No hat, just a workman-like attitude. Easy to like. So, to see him beat Tiger head to head and temporarily derail Tiger 2.0's comeback seemed somehow fitting.
Tiger is now injury-free for the first time in 10 years, a claim he seems to parrot repeatedly, perhaps in the hopes of getting inside the heads of his fellow competitors. Yet, he also considers himself to be a "work-in-progress" as his latest guru, Sean Foley continues to tweek his swing. How much tweeking will it take?
I have little doubt that once Tiger gets his confidence back, he will once again be atop the leaderboard, swing changes or no swing changes. Tiger is one of those few gifted people who can find a way to win regardless of how well he is hitting the ball, but it all comes back down to confidence and right now, Tiger 2.0 is sorely lacking in that department.
On an interesting side note, during a pre-event press conference, Tiger also made a revealing statement that European Tour players get paid appearance fees on their Tour. He also mentioned that the US Tour is the ONLY Tour where appearance money isn't paid.
Perhaps, Tiger is looking to change that to better feather his nest?
If Tiger Woods came out and said, I won't play without appearance money, there's a pretty good chance that fat wallets would be flying in his direction almost immediately, which would be good for the other players as well, via the "Trickle Down Theory."
The problem I have with appearance money is that it takes the pressure off the players. With an "all exempt" Tour, they don't have to worry about getting into an event and appearance money means they don't have to kill themselves either.
In the US, golf still appears to be the only professional sport where players actually have to earn a living every time they step onto a tee. Miss the cut, no soup for you.
Will the US PGA Tour agree to a change? Probably not, but with the other Tours paying appearance money, eventually they would have to cave-in or risk losing their brightest stars.
A quick note on this subject would have to involve the Masters tournament, in that they never pay appearance fees and furthermore, players would happily pay Augusta National an appearance fee to participate in the event. But trust me, the Lords of Augusta would never allow someone to buy their way in regardless if the Tour ever allowed appearance fees. They tell you to "never say never", well, I'm saying NEVER.
So at least that event would remain "pure."
Speaking of Southern golf, big hitting Bubba Watson shelled out a few bucks to buy the legendary "General Lee" auto made famous in the TV show "Dukes of Hazard." This specific car, a bright orange Dodge Charger, was coded "Lee 1" as it was the car to make the jump in the opening sequence. Yes, it got trashed and then restored.
Bubba ranks 1st in average driving distance at 315 yards and, occasionally, blasts one over 400 yards, but he is also 188th in accuracy.
So, I guess he finally found a car that performs an automotive equivalent to his drives. Outrageously long, flashy and occasionally crashes into trees.Heck, I had a car like that once… — VNS