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Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons Learned

Hats off to Rocco Mediate for his gutty comeback on the back nine today. I was pulling for him all the way, and though he couldn't get it done on the 90th hole, he should be applauded for his effort and for not backing down against Tiger. There are a few lessons that the other players on the PGA Tour should have learned from this event.
1) As good as Tiger is, he is beatable. When someone stands up to him and doesn't allow himself to be intimidated by Tiger, Woods shows that he is vulnerable. Golf is not a contact sport, and what the other player does has no direct impact on what one's opponent does, so intimidation should not play into the game as much as the media would like us to believe.
2) Any player who is good enough to be on Tour is good enough to beat anyone else on his best day. Tiger might win WAY more times than other players, but if another player is on a roll, his game can match that of the best player in the world.
3) The USGA's decision in recent years to add a preliminary cut of rough and even lower the highest sections of rough should be viewed as an opportunity to keep the ball on or near the fairway. The US Open is not as tough as it once was, so players need to suck it up and not allow themselves to be hoodwinked into thinking that this championship is too difficult to be won without a huge dose of good fortune.
4) Lucky shots comes to those who are the best. Tiger had some lucky shots and putts, but when one gets the breaks again and again, it's not all luck. The other players need to practice more and play better, and they'll start getting similar breaks.
5) Golf is about having fun, and having fun keeps a player loose. Playing loose translates into better shots and more holed putts. Rocco is the perfect example of this formula, and the other guys on Tour need to take notice and start playing like they did when they were 12 years old. They'll win more after realizing that hitting it hard and finding it is the name of the game. Smile and laugh your way to birdies. It's that simple.
Other lessons that should be learned, but won't be, are the following:
1) The media isn't going to chastise Tiger for being a cry baby club-slammer. We've seen his act time and again, and they're always going to cut him a break, even though he sets a terrible example.
2) The USGA got an exciting event, but the setup didn't feel like a real US Open. They will take the success of this Open and do more of the same in the future. It's good for TV, but it's not good for the integrity of the event. It's now the rough equivalent of the PGA Championship or something on the Florida Swing.
3) An easily birdie-able par 5 as the finishing hole is weak. Enough said.
4) Showing other players on TV instead of replaying highlights of Tiger's junior golf days is good for the future of the game, but the networks aren't going to change their ways until someone else challenges or surpasses him.
Speaking of the future of the game, keep your eye on these guys over the next three to five years: Rickie Fowler, Anthony Kim, Jason Day, Robert Karlsson, Billy Horschel, Kyle Stanley, Peter Uihlein, Daniel Willett, Rory McIlroy, Oliver Wilson, and Hunter Mahan. Just remember the names because you heard it here first.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess those other guys are right, Tiger is pretty good, good knee or bad knee.


PS Your favorite 18th hole came back in to play again. Maybe those course designers know what they are doing. You think the general public enjoys finishes that come down to the last putt?

9:09 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

I'm sure I'm in the extreme minority in my views of the 18th hole at Torrey Pines. It certainly adds some excitement, but my opinion is that it's a silly way to end such a rigorous test.

And yes, Tiger is pretty good. No doubt about that.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree because off that birdie-able par 5 18th this U.S. OPEN became one off the best majors ever with out that it would have been just another major and Rocco would not have received the credit he deserved because all of the focus would be on woods knee anyway

9:45 PM  

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