with Robert Bicknell
It seems that no matter what happens, Tiger Woods is the preferred subject of the media. Who cares if Jordan Spieth is playing lights out golf? Who cares if Rory McIlroy injured his leg? Who care who won the Open, The Masters or the US Open? We wanna write about Tiger!
To wit, Tiger showed signs of life last week. Granted, it was only a flicker of life, a mere shadow of his former greatness, an eye blink in the scheme of things, but it was enough to send the golf media into a feeding frenzy. "Tiger's Back! Look Out Nicklaus, Tiger's still has time to beat your record!"
All he did was shoot one round under par. Big whoopee.
Yet, they will claim it wasn't the one subpar round, but the "way" he did it. Who cares if he self-destructed again in the last round to take himself way out of the hunt. He posted a sub-par round and he did it with style.
Personally, I would love to see Tiger return to form, but I am enough of a realist to know he will never return to the same position of dominance that he once held. He's older, his body doesn't heal as fast or perform as well and he smiles way too much now. That alone is frightening.
A smiling Tiger doesn't scare anyone. He's not a predatory cat, he's Hobbes.
David Duval started smiling more on the advice of his marketing team in the days when he was on top. The effort caused a chain-effect of physical damage to him and he quickly disappeared from sight until briefly reappearing in the Open Championship. Sure, he missed the cut again, but he finished higher than Tiger, so it's a victory. Rumour has it that Duval watched endless hours of Mr Bean and the Three Stooges in an effort to control his urge to smile again. If he can control it, he might be the terminator again.
So, I will defer judgment on Tiger until he does something a little more consistently. It would be nice if he does, but the world will not end if he doesn't. We still have Jordan, Rory, Jason, Sergio, to name a few, on the front lines and even kids named "Dunne" waiting in the wings for their shot on the big stage.
OK, on to other more important things…
Mark Siegel told me last night that Viet Nam is the fastest growing golf destination in Asia, which made me go, "huh?" But when I thought about it, he's right. We're constantly opening more courses every year, more and more local people are learning the game, and junior programmes are beginning to take off.
This is all good.
And speaking of course openings, people have been wondering where I am hiding and the answer is "Ninh Binh" up north where I have a new golf course which we expect to open in the very near future.
The design is pretty good, we have a good maintenance team and are putting together all the missing parts and doing endless training. As you might expect, there is still a lot of work to do, but we're getting there. I forgot how much fun it is to train caddies and, despite what some people might think, I actually enjoy it.
The clubhouse is still under construction, but also seeing major strides every week. If it's not ready by the soft opening, I'll just run the course from the starter kiosk. It won't be the first time that a course had a soft opening from less than perfect circumstances. I remember Ian Fleming soft-opened Van Tri from the maintenance office with no problems.
So I am learning to be a little more tolerant of less than perfect circumstances and I am sure someone is slipping a dose of valium in my morning coffee, but that's OK as long as we get the job done.
All things considered, it's fun being back in the saddle and I cannot wait to see how this turns out.
One problem is that we have only had two hours of sunshine in three weeks of rain. Frogs are having a great time in the ponds and my superintendent keeps discovering new species of mushrooms.
Just another day in the life of a club manager. — VNS