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Teed Off (23-08-2009)

Update: August, 23/2009 - 00:00

Teed Off

(23-08-2009)

with Robert Bicknell

Well, it happened as I said it would, some kid with absolutely nothing to lose would take down Tiger Woods in a major and South Korean Yang Yong-eun proved me right by snatching US PGA Championship right from the mouth of Tiger by three shots.

Woods, in pursuit of a 15th major title, uncharacteristically missed four birdie putts from 12 feet or less. Hey, this is something that is supposed to happen to mere mortals, but not Tiger Woods so what is going on here?

Woods, who has never failed to win after holding a share of the lead after 54 holes in a major, looked like a hacker, choking his way through the last two holes with back to back bogeys.

Woods registered an uncharacteristic 33 putts for the round, but gave credit to YE Yang calling it a "fun battle."

Ok, I guess it’s fun when you don’t have to earn a pay check, but, then again, when you have over half a billion dollars in the bank, everything is fun. Very few of us would say no to trading places with Tiger or his bank account.

So, what can be learned from this?

First of all, it shows that some of the biggest names in the game are complete head cases who choke and roll over onto their backs on cue whenever Tiger’s name is mentioned. Maybe it’s part of the PGA Tour marketing plan.

"Hey guys, ratings are down, sponsors are upset and none of you have any colour and flair. Now, we found this kid named Tiger Woods and we’re gonna tout him as the next coming of Bobby Jones, ok? He’s got a world of talent, but we gotta make sure that everyone wants to watch him, so you guys gotta cooperate by shaking in your shoes on camera whenever Tiger’s name is mentioned, ok? Hey, second place money is still 10,000 times more than it was years ago and with this kid drawing sponsors, it will become even more, but ya gotta cooperate!"

And apparently they did.

This utterly ridiculous scenario, which is a product of my running around in the sun for too many years without a hat, would explain why the European PGA Tour players don’t fall over in fear and why the new kids feel free to stick their golf shoe in Tiger’s face whenever they get the chance.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Tiger Woods is a phenomenal talent, but what irritates me is the pedestal that both the media and US Tour players out him on. They have practically raised Tiger to demi-G-d status, convincing themselves that he is unbeatable.

Yang Yong-eun proved that anyone can beat anyone else of roughly the same skill level on any given Sunday if they stick to their guns and have faith in their own ability.

Nobody is infallible and that goes for Tiger Woods as well, but if golf is going to continue to remain a draw for the TV networks, it has to produce a lot more stars who can put on a show.

John Daly did it through his amazing power off the tee, graceful touch around the greens and his unfailing ability to get himself in trouble.

Greg Norman drew TV audiences through his tall, blond looks and swashbuckling attack style of play. His take no prisoners, full sail ahead and ability to self-destruct by not shifting to a lower gear when necessary.

If Tom Watson’s hip replacement is any indication of what medical science can do to preserve the longevity of today’s professional golfers, then Tiger should be with us for many few years – if he so desires, but that’s not a given because as I said earlier, he’s got over half a billion dollars in the bank. Motivating yourself to win when you’re sitting in the lap of luxury is difficult, even if you just want to chase the record books.

The US Tour needs to see more younger players prepare themselves to be the next Tiger Woods, or Greg Norman now, otherwise, if Tiger decides to only play majors due to his knee problems, there will be nobody to step up and fill his awfully large shoes.

If that happens, golf will go the way of tennis…into obscurity. — VNS

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