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Woods sets the agenda in thrilling style

Iain Carter | 02:10 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

This blog was intended to be a relatively big cat free zone - we've spoken so much about him in recent weeks - but it's hard to ignore Tiger Woods's latest success.

It was simply stunning as he snatched his sixth Bay Hill professional title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and returned to winning ways just three tournaments into his comeback.

The manner of the triumph was typical Tiger, holing from just under 16ft for a winning birdie on the closing hole - a stretch of Arnie's real estate that up to that point had yielded just six birdies all day long.

And this one was completed in near darkness. "There's some kind of voodoo witchcraft going on with this guy," commented a reporting colleague.

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It would be hard to argue if you didn't know better because what we do know is that Woods is a competitor previously unseen in the game of golf, such is his insatiable appetite for victories.

He has an ability to will the ball into hole. "The greatest pressure putter to have ever played the game," said Johnny Miller in the immediate aftermath of this victory.

And what did Woods say? "It feels good."


All the emotion had poured out with the fist pumping embrace he'd given caddie Steve Williams and that was as much as Woods could muster verbally afterwards.

As he talked at more length it was all analysis. Where was the human feeling? Must have been buried deep in the golfing machine. "It just validates all that I have been doing."

Well it stirred emotion elsewhere and thrilled early evening primetime TV. He's put golf right back on the map just in time for the Masters.

Which takes me to where I thought this blog would go...

Not withstanding the Tiger threat, from Humble beginnings are Masters won? The rejigging of the golfing calendar means many of Europe's top players are taking a different route to the first major of the year.

Programmed into their sat-navs will be the Redstone Golf Club at Humble, Texas the home of the Houston Open which will provide a final competitive tune-up ahead of the Masters.

In previous years, many have preferred to take off the week before Augusta having played either the Players' Championship or the WGC date at Doral. With Bay Hill slotting into that date this year several leading Europeans skipped Arnold Palmer's Orlando stop and ritual defeat at Woods's hands.

Now they'll play Houston in the knowledge they won't feel burned out by the time they head down Magnolia Lane. Furthermore, the Redstone course will be set up with Augusta in mind, though how close it gets to replicating the demands of the Masters is open to question.

"Normally I take off the week before a major," Justin Rose said. "But I felt last year I didn't get enough momentum going, I was going one week on, one week off so this year I'm trying to get some nice runs of events, three in a row, stuff like that.

"And I heard Houston does a really good job in terms of preparing their golf course in a somewhat similar way to Augusta," the Florida-based Englishman added.

Rose struggled for consistency at Bay Hill and will join up with Ryder Cup team-mates Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood in Texas.

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Luke Donald, Alvaro Quiros, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy will also be there and Padraig Harrington is another following the Rose three-in-a-row route.

But, of course, Woods won't be making the same trip. Despite his comparative inactivity this year, the world number one will not deviate from his tried and trusted routine of taking the week off before a major.

And why not? Besides returning to winning ways, happily for Woods, Bay Hill also provided a major style test with punishing rough, demanding length and firm greens.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell feels the test was just what was required. The Scottish Open champion said: "This golf course differs a lot from Augusta but I think you can compare the mindset.

"Four is a great score; you have to place the ball correctly on the greens when you are going into these difficult pin positions. The greens aren't Augusta quick but they're tricky to read.

"The Masters has become a more difficult prospect than it has in years gone by. I played there last week and saw the length of the new course and the way the greens are set up and I'm really excited to get back there.

"It rewards great iron play and unbelievable short games. I've been working really hard on my chipping and putting and I'm looking forward to putting it to the test.

"But there's no question this week at Bay Hill is a great work out mentally."

While so many of his European colleagues will be feeling the heat of competition McDowell is now contemplating another visit to Augusta "to do some more homework".

It'll be fascinating to see which approach works best and it's worth remembering that Trevor Immelman went to Texas last year.

The South African had rounds of 72 and 73, missed the cut and headed to Georgia duly humbled. A week later he became Masters champion.

Finally, a couple of footnotes from Bay Hill.

Was I alone in feeling uncomfortable as American television did its best to locate Woods's lost ball on the final hole of his third round?

While a succession of replays were shown of his errant second shot ploughing into a thick grassy bank, commentator Johnny Miller was relaying specific instructions to on course reporters who were assisting the search party.

In this case there was not much advantage to be gained; not even Woods would have been able to advance the ball to the green had it been found.

But this isn't the point. The fact is he was gaining a potential advantage through his omnipresence on our screens, which seems unfair to those in the same tournament who plod away unnoticed.

And while we're on the subject of Woods's TV presence, it was interesting to note that NBC overran their third round coverage by 10 minutes or so to cover the dramatic end to his third round.

But as soon as he'd holed his putt it was time to say bye-bye from Bay Hill, never mind that the leader Sean O'Hair and Jason Gore were still to complete their rounds and drop the shots that helped let Woods back into the tournament.

Good job too that neither O'Hair nor Gore needed any extra help finding their ball on that final hole.

But to offer some balance, it was great for golf in the US that NBC decided to eat in to Sunday primetime schedules to stay with the action right until the end.

They'd have done that for Arnie in his pomp and it illustrates the extent of Woods's influence today by showing why his return to action is so welcome.

His opponents might not be thinking the same thing though.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good article Iain,
    Extraordinary by Woods. Very promising by Harrington. And utterly nauseating by the Nike Broadcasting Corporation. You got that spot on.

    In actual fact, the bogey that O'Hair made after "allotted time" had passed on Saturday was the difference between a play-off and a win, one way or the other.

  • Comment number 2.


    I Dont mean any disrespect to tiger woods but this is yet another tournament handed to him by his playing partners collapse. If O'Hair had even shot a measly one over par, he still would have won. Although I respect woods for being a great player, the fact that these lesser players just brick it when they play with him is just a joke. I cant even count the times where woods has been pretty much handed tournaments by players just bottling it on the last day. The guy had a 5 shot lead, its just craziness.

    On the upside, great to see harrington finding a bit of form. Hopefully he will keep it up and be nicely tuned for the Masters. Harrington seems to be the only player who does not brick it when playing with woods. In fact he outscored him on day two of this tournament. I would just love to see harrington in final pairing with woods at Augusta. I think if harrington can get his putter working, he is a very dangerous player and he doesnt seem to fear woods. Dont get me wrong, woods is the best player out there but I think harrington is very mentally strong so he could get the job done.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, it's also typical Woods in that his rivals collapsed again! If they'd played as they'd been doing previously it wouldn't have been Tiger's day.

    But then I guess that's part of the pressure Woods brings to bear.
    So few golfers seem to be able to handle that and they crumble. Good for Tiger, bad for most of the golfing pros out there. Handling the pressure should be part and parcel but, as soon as Woods strings together a couple of birdies, people start quaking in their boots. It's kind of like the aura Tyson had in the 80s.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good article, I don't think anyone could begrudge you mentioning Tiger this week!!

    As has been said above a lot of it was down to the collapse of O'Hair, but Tiger did what was required of him to put the pressure on. His quick start never really allowed O'Hair a chance to settle and it can't be a good feeling to be strugling with your driver yet to see Tiger in the middle of the majority of the fairways. I saw a telling stat on the coverage last night that Tiger's partners in the last group on a Sunday have outscored Tiger 8 times, been level with him 8 times and been beaten by him something like 70 times - incredible.

    Quick question Iain; Do any of the tournaments try to do anything to control the crowds following Tiger?
    Watching the coverage last night I noticed the noise from the gallery when Tiger wasn't playing was really not what you'd hope for at a golf tournament, but especially not on the Sunday. This isn't a new phenomena but even the commentators were making reference to it which I don't really recall them doing much since the early days of his career. It must be hard enough playing against Tiger without having to contend with the gallery running about and talking all through your shots as a significant majority have absolutely no interest in your golf - they're only there to see the Tiger.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's good to see any player come back from serious injury and prove himself with a win, whether it be a top professional or a club amateur.

  • Comment number 6.

    meant 'significant MINORITY' not majority - far too early for me

  • Comment number 7.

    Yeah Tiger you da man! Who does that - has an eight month lay off from golf due to an injury and then in only his 3rd tournament back wins! Your just amazing Tiger! And to all the haters out there - you know this man is gonna be the greatest ever - even better than Jack Nicklaus! ...it's just a matter of time - and as for the hype - he lives up to it an exceeds it! Really looking forward to the majors this year - bring on the Masters!

    What Roger has done in terms of Grand Slams is nothing new. In fact, he is neither the first, second, third, four, nor fifth tennis player to accomplish six grand slams in 2 years. Therefore what he does is not unprecedented - matter of fact, its not even close. Now his overall body of work is impressive. It is however, no more impressive than Pete Sampras. Most likely, at the end of his career, Sampras will be a good comparison.

    Now compare that to what Tiger does. He is winning at a 30% clip - considerably higher than anyone else in Golf History. You're not talking about a Tennis player dominating an era like Federer has done. You are talking about a Golfer dominating HISTORY such as what Tiger is doing. The field is not Tiger's competition, HISTORY is.

  • Comment number 8.


    I am certainly not a tiger hater by any means. But you cant hide the fact that like so many other tournaments, he was handed this tournament as a result of his playing partner bottling it. If O'Hair had even shot 1 over he still would have won !!! If tiger had shot 65 or 64 then fair enough but come on !

  • Comment number 9.

    How sick must Mickelson feel - he finally gets the chance to become World number 1 and Tiger removes that chance by winning at Bayhill. There was never any doubt that Tiger would make a birdie on 18 last night. He always seems to make the big putts at the right time. I agree with your comments regarding Saturday night's coverage - but it always seems to happen in America.

  • Comment number 10.

    Seriously ... has Tiger EVER come from behind in a major, even by ONE stroke, to win on Sunday?

    No.

    He is, without a doubt, the most over-hyped athlete of the 21st century.

    So he came back to beat a nobody in a nothing tournament. It's like Paula Radclife coming from 2 miles behind to beat a nonentity in the London marathon . So what?

    I mean, why the ????? was Tiger down five strokes to begin with?

    Context, people -- ignore the BBC hype and THINK for once. By saying this, you are essentially "buying into" the hype and supporting the argument saying that Tiger is the most dominant athlete ever.
    Tiger is good but he plays against ZERO competition compared to the players that Jack Nicklaus had to play against. If you take away the hall of famers that Jack faced he most likely would have twice as many wins as he had. Put Nicklaus against Woods both in their prime and I would put my money on Jack all day.

    Yes, nice putt on 18, but chalk this up as another tournament that was really less about Tiger winning and more about his competition choking.

    Tiger has dominated some tournaments, and has outplayed his final round competition in many others. But a good 10-12 of his wins have been due to unexplainable poor play by his main competitors during the final round. (some suggest it is a Tiger psyche-out factor)

    O'Hair choked, and he is going to have to live with blowing a 5 shot final round lead. I anticipate he might not recover from this for a few months.

    For those who are going to argue O'Hair played ok and Tiger took it away from him, realize that if O'Hair just shoots 71 (+1) he wins the tournament. Today was not a tough day to play Bay Hill. O'Hair's 73 was very bad. No one in the top 16 shot worse than 71 and only 2 other players in the top 39 shot a 73 (no one worse).

    Tiger shot a nice 67 - but 67 should have been good enough for only second place today if O'Hair was mentally tougher.
    These fold jobs and brain cramps by professional golfers over and over amazes me. O'Hair 2nd shot on 16 tells you all you need to know. What a joke.

  • Comment number 11.

    it seems bizarre everyone is going on about the opponents bottling it. Bottom line is, you can only beat what's infront of you. The only reason players bottle it is that Tiger has worked so hard along side his natural talent to install the fear. Nothing wrong with reaping the benefits. Good on you Tiger, brilliant victory.

  • Comment number 12.

    Jack was amazing, but he faced very few guys that could win each week. His competition is not even close to what Tiger faces. The field is stacked and there are great pros lining up. When Jack played there were a few elite guys - then the talent dropped quickly. Now their are talented guys not good enough to keep their card. Just a rediculous comparison. With all the money in the game - their are more people pursuing professional golf and thus there is far more competition.
    We can argue about this for years. The fact is: Nicklaus would have won more majors if not for Trevino and Watson. Watson would have won more majors if not for Nicklaus. Phil Mickelson would have more majors if not for Tiger. Ernie Els would too and Vijay and dare I say...Sergio. The fact is, everyone has always had someone to steal their thunder. Are the players more talented today? Who knows, but with all the globetrotting and enormous purses up for grabs, I doubt that winning is easier today. Let Tiger finish his career and let's compare his record to Jack's.

  • Comment number 13.

    Infected_beef- I think you've been eating this stuff reading your comments.
    I don't know how much golf knowledge you have with a comment like 'Sean o'hair is nobody'
    The guy has had 4 top ten finishes on the PGA tour this year, has earned over $1.5m, 8th in the Fed-ex cup race and is in the worlds top 50!

    As for all those that are saying' Tiger wins becaue his opponents bottle it..'
    All Tiger can do is beat what is in from of him, simply as that. If you think opponents 'bottle it' that's thier problem, not Tigers.
    The fact that he has that kind of aura about him says something- it was the same thing when you had the likes of Mike Tyson and Federer at thier best..
    Very few sportsman ever have that, Tiger has it.

  • Comment number 14.


    It still doesnt hide that like so many other tournaments, that the opposition lost it more than tiger won it. He won this tournament as a result of another player putting it on a platter. I agree he can only beat whats in front of him but it doesnt hide the fact that a top 20 golfer should at least be able to shoot 1 over par on the final day

  • Comment number 15.

    It does seem that any sports person who dominates their field as Tiger does attracts negative publicity, but to call him over hyped seems a little unfair. Tiger attracts the coverage because of what he has done on the golf course, winning more tournaments he enters than anyone has ever done before. This includes majors, ask any golfer alive if they would take multiple major victories to their name but none would be won when behind on the final round and I think everyone knows what the answer would be. You simply cant critisice him for the manor in which he has won all his majors.
    Tiger has stimulated interest in a game that was perhaps begining to look a little stale, prize money flooded into the sport and a lot of players who would have had to achieve far more in the way of tournament results pre Tiger to attain the gilt edged lives they now lead owe it all to the Woods phenomenon.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why are so many coming out with the "Tiger didn't win it, his competitor(s) choked" line. "Choking" is a term used by "chokers". There's very few of them in pro golf. otherwise they wouldn't be there in the first place.

    For anybody on the golf boards that doesn't play competitive golf at any level, I say to you that what Woods achieves on a regular basis is absolutley stunning. You could see he was in the mood yesterday. He gets a look in his eyes and a bounce in his walk.

    Now, Sean O'Hair has to find a way to deal with this. As do all of them. Not only is it enough to try and deal with the fact that you are in a position to win a big tournament, to fulfil ones dreams, to earn a living etc. Add to that the TV cameras, 20,000 people following your group and currently the worlds best player (on his way to creating a living legend of the game) bearing down on you. A man that can deal with all that straight off the bat would be some sort of human. In any endeavour.

    Woods is special. He can do things his peers cannot. I'm not talking about shot shaping or bench pressing X amount of lb's. I'm talking about sheer competitive edge. Absolute desire to win. The intangible qualities that make him who he is, and that are responsible for what he has achieved.

    Like it or not, you either have "it", or you don't. There is no other player in professional golf that has "it" at the moment. Unfortunately, for the rest of those playing on the US Tour that don't have "it", they must find a way to maximise what they have. And that may be good enough to win a few tournaments when it all falls into place.

    But you can't create "it". It comes from within and cannot be falsified. But also, there may be players out there who do have "it" but don't/won't/can't let it out. That, ironically, is another facit to having "it". The human psyche is a complex machine.

    Arnold Palmer had "it". Then Jack came along and had a bigger "it". There were others. Tom Watson. Lee Trevino. They won their fair share. Others came and went, but Jack is the one remembered. For good reason. He had the same icy stare. The same body language and the same defiant air about him.

    There will always be a "top" and then "the rest of them". It can't be any other way.

    It's not that the competitors throw tournaments in Woods direction. Woods just has so many strings to his bow that it will take one of two things to stop him. His own age, or a man that is able to play golf his own way, have as much confidence in it as Woods does, and bring it on when it matters most.

    Even the slightest element of doubt is sufficient to impare performance.
    So to all those armchair Major winners I say this. You have no clue what it takes to win at the highest level of golf. Probably not even at amateur club level. Appreciate that O'Hair tried to use his current formula for excellent golf against the worlds best and it came up short. By one shot. ONE SHOT! Appreciate that Woods has everything any man needs to consistently win big, and appreciate that you have no idea how to even come close to it.

    And by the looks of Woods when he holes that crucial winning putt, or creates an uncatchable lead, I wouldn't say he finds it easy. You don't get that much obvious reward from something that's easy. We saw it at the Masters in 2005. We saw it at Bay Hill last year. We saw it at the US Open last year. We saw it yesterday. Uncaged joy. Total release of tension, anxiety, pressure and elation. You don't get that without the process being a tough one.

    Enjoy it for what it is. See it for what it is.

  • Comment number 17.

    Just a quick point about the television commentators helping Woods find his ball. I have seen this happen before with another player. The situation was that the player in question hit the ball into the water and had to drop in line with the point of entry. The player was about to drop the ball in the wrong place but the studio commentators advised the on-course commentator where the proper place to drop was and the player then went to the correct place. Bottom line, this does happen and it isn't just because it is Tiger involved.

  • Comment number 18.

    The coverage of Harrington the first two days was disgraceful. They showed Woods play every shot but hardly showed Harrington at all. It's always the way in America. Even when he won the PGA they only started showing Harrington consistenly once he took joint share of the lead.

  • Comment number 19.

    He's a freak of nature

  • Comment number 20.

    who cares Golf is not a sport
    s golf a sport? If you divide sports into 2 categories, “contact sport” or “non-contact” I think it is fair to say that golf would be a non-contact sport, like bowling and like track and field events. Any argument?

    The major component of contact sports, “baseball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, fighting, is not about athleticism. Being “in shape” will only effect your performance and not determine whether you play a sport or a game. You can be an Olympic athlete and type but that wont make typing a “sport” just because and athlete does it. Same with golf.
    Just because Tiger Woods is in shape does not make him an athlete or golf a sport. What DOES make the “contact” events, sports, is the fact that in those events, one player or team, by rules…by definition…by intention, deliberately and with strategy and by physical force, effect the opposing player, the opposing team, their equipment, and most importantly….their play. In those “sports” you can actually take away the ball with physical force and disrupt the physical and mental make up of the opponent.

    So, at best, golf is a non contact sport. At least in tennis you can respond to your opponents efforts.

    My view is that golf is NOT a sport, but rather a sporting event. Contact sports are also sporting events, but not all sporting events are “sports”. Bowling? Event. Track and field? Event.

    Are golfers athletes? Are bowlers? Are dart throwers or archers? They will all say they are. I won’t argue with them. I’d just love to see golfers carry their own clubs and have there be a clock on the golf course. I want to see John Daly running down the 18th fairway with his bag on his shoulder to finish before the buzzer because of poor clock management on the front nine.

    Firstly the Wikipedia definition is very much open to interpretation. I believe that in order for something to be clasified as a Sport then you have to be directly be competing against somebody/people and that the way they compete has an impact on your performance. So for instance using this I classify tennis as a sport as if I were playing Roger Federer then I could guarantee I’d lose 6-0 6-0 6-0 as he is so much better than me that I’d be unable to ge t a game. However, If I were playing Tiger Woods at golf I would go around in something like 90. If I were playing my next door neighbour I would still go around in 90. The fact that Tiger Woods would go around in 70 (beat me) and my neighbour in 100 (lose to me)does not make it a sport. Golf is a game, NOT A SPORT at which some people are very very good.

  • Comment number 21.

    What an appalling rollover and yet another lame performance from Tiger's competition. Good come back for Mr Woods but the other players just shouldnt have let this happen. As a betting man though, I have got my money on Woods for the Masters. As far as I can see, only he is going to be capable of not letting it happen!

  • Comment number 22.

    INFECTED_BEEF

    I can only presume that because you have started to ramble on about whether golf is or isn't a sport (and you're right, nobody cares) means that you have nothing further to back up your original "point" that Tigers competitors "choke".

    It's abundantly clear that you have a distinct lack of understanding of golf and I don't believe you should be continuing to make yourself look rather under-developed by posting on these boards.

    The purest form of golf is Matchplay. One guy against another trying to get the ball in the hole first. Whilst they cannot indulge in brainless red-neck style fisty-cuffs, they can affect their opponents play by doing certain things with their shots.

    The same thing occurs in strokeplay events. It's part of the reason why the leaders are grouped together now (they never used to be). If it's close and one player makes a birdie, then the other has to respond at some stage. If (like yesterday) a player has a 5 shot lead and seems comfortable, it only takes another player in the group to start charging and that can affect the way the leader plays (if it's different to his gameplan).

    If you decide to respond, I only hope it's more measured and educated than your previous comments. Otherwise you may as well not bother.

    It appears that you're not that fond of golf, so don't get involved. Simple really.

  • Comment number 23.

    INFECTED_BEEF go home son..

    Since we are typing in english not wikipidea which is written by muppets like you, i think you will find definition of sport is :-

    Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively

    or

    a game, competition or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job

    So snooker, billards, pool, darts, netball whatever are all sports no matter what you say...

    p.s baseball contact sport not seen that neither is basketball !!

  • Comment number 24.

    What a win by Tiger last night. Tiger knew what he needed to do to win, and that's exactly what he did. From a TV point of view the whole 18 holes was gripping stuff. There were times when I was willing the putts to go in. As a 13 Handicapper you can't help but marvel at the talent of Tiger and his enthusiasm for winning. As for O'Hair, the pressure just got to him alittle, as it does with everybody else that plays in the final group with Tiger on a Sunday. On another note I though Zach Johnson played a good final round.
    Lets enjoy his talent whilst it's around instead of knocking his success. I'm glad he's around to watch in my life time.
    When his career is over then we can all compare with Jack, Arnie and other greats.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hmm. Well, what do I think. I think Tiger is the greatest golfer the game has ever seen. I think his display of shot making is impressive but nothing compared to his pressure putting. His put on 14 was stunning. His put on 18 to win was fantastic. 3 times he has holed on that green to win. First Mickelson, last year Bryant. To me, this is the heart of his skill. This is what must eat away the soul of the players who stand up to him. Everytime there is a flicker of light, he sends them into darkness. He never missed a put under 6 feet all week. Just amazing.
    I kind of understand why there is criticism of him. He is corporate. He is never going to by an electric character and he is the best. It is an easy option to simply look at the failings of the players who are not up to the test, and then say that when Jack was playing there was heat put on him. I honestly don't think so. Modern golf is just different. The majority of the players began golfing in a far more professionalised enviroment. They work harder, on and off the course, than their predisessors. That doest mean to say that back in the day there wasn't talent. Of course there was. But I think Tiger has suceeded in a very demanding competative world.
    One final comment about last night. If I could reach into the TV and strangle some one it would have to be O'Hair's caddie. Sean O'Hair is a very good technical golfer. He might be a great person and kind to animals too. But he is slow. Painfully slow. He is the poster boy of modern American golf who's mantra is 'just hit when you are ready.' So bad. Such a bad example. His caddie never shut up.'Take your time,' and 'Let me know what shot you are going to hit before you hit it.' What did he have some kind of veto? To me this is the other side of the game tha Tiger handles better than others. The constant faffing that doesn't really make any kind of difference. As his sponser would say, 'Just do it..'
    We are lucky in our sport to have the greatest sportsman alive. We kind of should be proud and, well, happy..

  • Comment number 26.

    i can't really believe htat people actually think that woods was "fortunate" to win. the reason he is great nad the other players are lesser is because he keeps making the shots when they fail because they can't produce form consitently or just because of pressure. to be a great sportsman you have to have mental capability as well as skill at whatever game you play, and if you don't have that it is just as bad as missing a putt.

  • Comment number 27.

    Dictionary.com defines sport as "An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively." It is the first part of the definition that precludes golf from being a sport: "An activity involving physical exertion..."

    Unfortunately, I don't think there's a whole lot of physical exertion going on at the local golf club. Every time I drive by a club I see plenty of less than fit human specimens making the rounds. Golf carts, caddies, and the golf bag carriers that people roll behind them remove the majority of the physical (i.e. lugging a heavy bag for several kilometers) side of golf. In my books, if you can get off the couch after several years of inactivity and complete a round without breaking a sweat, it's a game.

    Golf is a mind game more than anything else. How can I maximize my drive? How can I use the wind to get the ball where I want it? Which club will do the best job for this situation? This places golf in the category of chess. I don't think that too many people would argue that chess is a sport. Give two people a chess set and tell them to walk through a meadow with it while playing and you've got golf.

    Why then is there such a push on to get golf into the sports category. By all accounts, it's already there. It's in the sports pages and the sports news. Still, however, many folks want golf included in the Olympics as well. In a nutshell, calling golf a sport and including it in the Olympics would admit many golf "athletes" into an exclusive club

  • Comment number 28.

    and when will all you brits get a grip of reality. the tounrament is piad for by the spoonsorship money and the television fees it gets. in turn theose broadcasters having paid a fortune for the right to screen the tournament want to try and ensure high ratings (the thing that makes them money due to advertising). to have high ratings they have to show woods as he is thw rolds best and most popular player. harrington on the other hand, and no offence to him, is a very good player, but he is not woods and he is popular over here in the uk and ven there not with everyone.

  • Comment number 29.

    Probably the best sports story of the weekend... but I have to admit my first reaction on hearing Woods had won was to groan: golf had been pleasingly unpredictable in his absence.

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm new to this but felt moved to do so..........

    I would be interested to know whether all fellow bloggers play golf? Maybe one could say: PS h'cap 6 , for example (that's mine)

    Does mr. infected beef for example know how difficult it is to win when you're ahead? Even if you're playing in the club championship? Especially when the course is full of danger. It's far more difficult to defend a lead than chase. The mind set is all different, however much you tell yourself to just go out and do the same thing as you've been doing, the reality is it's playing on your mind. Should I be more aggressive? more defensive? You've got to sleep on it, ponder the imponderables. Will you have the same focus? Deep down you know golf's a fickle game, your feel might change. That soft little draw that served you so well inexplicably becomes a slight fade. That tiny move of the head back before you putt isn't working anymore. If I loose this they'll say I choked.

    Personally , in golf, it always amazes me that just because a guy's 5 ahead many think it's a foregone conclusion. Tell Gary Player that when he's 7 down. Even if a club Player was say 4 down with 14 to play most would feel they have every chance of pulling back. In stroke play the lead's that much more fragile, it's so easy to run up a double , then the other guy birdies, that's a 3 shot swing right there. Then the guy chasing has the momentum, plus he hasn't had the sleepless night and all the fear of failure eating at him for the last 24 hours.

    That's what makes sport and golf in particular so great , almost anything is possible. I listened to the Bay Hill on the radio last night. I don't think O'Hair cracked. Woods put in 3 or was it 4 big putts from the 14th. The fact that he does it right when the pressure is hottest is nothing short of miraculous, it certainly kept me awake and glued to the radio! The fact that he does it so often is mind boggling.

    All I can say is appreciate greatness when you see it. My personal opinion is only Nicklaus had the same ability under pressure.


  • Comment number 31.

    Handicap 6. I quite like Rodger Black's definition of what constitutes a sport and that is any activity that requires you to change your shoes. Infected beef. Don't know what to say. Or where to begin, really..

  • Comment number 32.

    INFECTED_BEEF doesn't seem to be involved in the conversation the rest of us were having. He needs to find a different thread or start his own about whether Golf's a sport or not. Like I said. Nobody cares.

    This threads about how great Tiger is/isn't and whether his competitors give him more than he makes for himself.

    With golf essentially being a game of mistakes (of which Tiger can and does make at least some) then there may always be a question as to whether a shot missed is the one that gave it all away. But it's not just down to the final round. There may well have been 2 putts that O'Hair missed in the second round that, had they gone in, may have given him the win. There were probably times in earlier rounds where Woods could have taken advantage of some good play and gone into the final round with a better score.

    Ifs, buts and maybes have no place in golf. What happens, happens. A player can only deal with what is put infront of him. Tiger had to make birdie to win. He did. He's done it before. He'll do it again.

    Whether the fact that he's having to make clutch putts to win or take matches to play-offs is another matter that needs highlighting. There's more guys out there capable of getting close to him more regularly now than during the 4 years post 1997. The standard has risen.

    Woods raised the bar. But it's his bar.


  • Comment number 33.

    "Tiger is good but he plays against ZERO competition compared to the players that Jack Nicklaus had to play against. If you take away the hall of famers that Jack faced he most likely would have twice as many wins as he had. Put Nicklaus against Woods both in their prime and I would put my money on Jack all day."

    --------------------------------------

    I hate seeing this comment over and over again. No doubt you are some bitter old man who starts every sentence with "back in my day...". The fact is the depth of competition now in golf is on another planet to what it was in Nicklaus' day. If Tiger wasn't around players like Mickelson and Els would easily be in Gary Player/Arnold Palmer territory. And the quality of players outside the top 20-30 is ridiculous too. Anyone can win out there now, which just shows how incredible Tiger's record is. It absolutely boggles my mind how anyone can say Tiger Woods is over-rated.

  • Comment number 34.


    Look the fact is woods played very well but O'Hair cracked. Whatever way you look at it, o'hair played 3 days of good solid golf and then when it mattered, his game fell apart. If he had played anywhere like the first 3 days, woods's round would have made no difference. This is definitely one that O'Hair lost rather than woods one.

    That said fair play to woods for cashing in when everybody else fell apart

  • Comment number 35.

    Looking through previous comments. Really liked the one about ‘The field is not Tiger's competition, history is’, somewhat dramatic but quite possible spot-on!

    I thought the same about Harington coverage. Won the last two Majors but still can’t be seen hitting more than two shots, but that’s the influence of Tiger. You must admit it’s been boring without him.

    The point I’d like to make is the fact that after 9 months off and knee surgery he can come back and (almost) straight away win. Look at Ernie Els. He came back from surgery and I don’t think he’s even competed since and there’s many who thought Ernie was a better player than Tiger! Remember the ‘I’m Tiger Woods but I’d rather be Ernie Els’ t-shirts? Although he has it in spades, I think its less to do with ability and more to do with mental strength and that’s something Tiger has more than any sportsman bar none. As I heard in the background at the end of Setanta’s coverage …. Unbelievable

    Ps - injected-beef you really are a t*t

  • Comment number 36.

    Cannot believe the number of posts suggesting Tiger gets handed tournaments on a plate. He put the pressure on by shooting a 67 on a very tough course, fact is that it far from uncommon for someone with a big lead after day 3 to fail to hang onto it, its not only when Tiger is chasing them.
    You have to earn the right to intimadate other players, like maybe by winning 14 majors, 70 odd PGA events and having huge winning streaks.

  • Comment number 37.

    slashermcguirk

    you are right in some ways but there were not many rounds under par and Woods did get to within 1 shot after 4/5 holes then its straight out matchplay

    Which i am afraid with 3 US Am tiles and a couple of world golfs Woods is the best at...

    Woods was on him from the gun and sorry not many guys have beaten Woods once he within touching distance.

    You have to be close enough for people to crack and Woods was that very quickly.

  • Comment number 38.

    its always great when guys give tournaments away, another back door cove for eldrick wood
    only 13 of 73 golfers shot a worse round than o'hair. 50 shot better and 10 joined him at 73. shooting in the bottom 1/3 of the field when you open with a 5 stroke lead can be described as nothing more than choking--whether it's fear of tiger or not... it's still a choke job... Tiger is great---I just wish there were someone else in his galaxy to make golf interesting... Tiger did shoot a very good round when he needed to, I give him credit for that--but O'hair started collapsing at 15 on saturday--- once he was way in front his knees left him... he was 3 over in his last 4 holes saturday, and continued the bad play sunday... without his stumble, a 67 wouldn't have been close to enough... give tiger his due for performing when he had to---but don't be blind and try to say that O'Hair didn't swing the doors WIDE open.
    As a final thought one thing I noticed about the rounds - on the back nine - O'Hair got 2 putts to the hole (and one of those was his sole birdie for the day) - Woods only came up short once.

    Personally I was amazed that O'Hair didn;t get his putt to the hole on 18 - he must have been the only man alive who didn't think Tiger was making his putt if he missed. You gotta give yourself a chance - plus these guys are really god putters so he most likely makes the one back from anything up to 8 feet so he was at least 6 feet short on that putt.

    As a weekend hacker I'll say this when I'm playing stableford and it's a putt for a point it doesn't always go in but it alwasy gets to the hole.
    POOR COMPETItION. If Mickelson or Garcia were there i bet tiger would have wilted

  • Comment number 39.

    Iain - on the subject of Woods's second shot to 18 in round three, why did he have to take a two-shot penalty for losing a ball in a hazard?

  • Comment number 40.

    Anyone who plays in a monthly medal or stableford can only marvel at some who performs time after time under so much pressure, enjoy Tiger while it lasts

  • Comment number 41.

    Beef, if Mickleson or Garcia play well they will have the chance to put Woods under pressure, because week in and week out he is at the top of the leaderboard. Though how you can criticse O'Hairs putting then pick Garcia as the man to replace him is beyond me...
    If Faldos mere presence can destroy a player like Norman then god alone only knows what Tiger breathing down his neck would do to a kid like O'Hair.
    Everyone assumes that in an era when one player dominates the rest of the field must be weak,its pure conjecture as we dont know how good they would have been otherwise.
    Im not old enough to rememebr Nicklaus in his pomp but Id guarantee there were times when everyone thought it was all a stroll for him and the competition caved, or were all his 113 career wins achieved in down to the wire battles against guys who showed nerves of steel but were just beaten by the better man ?

  • Comment number 42.

    ive lost count of the number of clutch pressure puts tiger has holed with his last us open and this weeks as an example of anything up to 25 feet he can sink just to stay in contention.after hearing his training day schedule, starts at six with an hour and a half of weights and still hitting shots or playing rounds till five thirty, its no surprise he can wear his opponents down when they are in the same group.but its his putting which is his greatest asset and truly sets him apart from everyone else in the world.

  • Comment number 43.

    To infectedbeef:

    It seems to me that you've got a case of putter-envy with Tiger Woods. You say, "He is, without a doubt, the most over-hyped athlete of the 21st century."

    Really? Because winning makes him over-hyped? I'm sorry, but I fail to see how that is so. Tiger supposedly plays against sub-par opponents. Really, because YOU'RE SO GOOD? That's why you're commenting on his play instead of playing against him, right?

    Over-hype is Alex Rodriguez. Over-hype is Ryan Leaf. Tiger Woods IS NOT over-hyped. He does what he sets out to do. And he did last year on ONE LEG! And he did it again Sunday in dramatic fashion. Really, don't hate the player, hate the game!

  • Comment number 44.

    Beef - you were sounding more sensible old boy until you suggested Garcia & Mickelson could 'wilt' Tiger. Evidence please? Weekend hacker. Blog hacker.

  • Comment number 45.

    On the subject of golf being a game or a sport, I noticed while watching a European senior golf event on TV, that they were using motorised carts. I am surprised this is allowed.

  • Comment number 46.

    Not such an icredible display of golf but an incredible show of an almost inhuman desire to win and never say die attitude that typifies this athlete like few if none before. To say that people crumble when paired with Tiger is obvious but it is the reasons that they do so explains the true greatness of the man. Nicklaus in his prime probablly had at the most 10 competitors capable of winning, however the standards of golfers even going into the 400's in the world rankings is such that the various tours continue to throw up surpise underdog victories. With this in mind it is incredible that Tiger woods is dominating golf when the field in general is more talented than ever

  • Comment number 47.

    the us golf scene- (broadcasts, journalists, pgatour.com) need so much work- if you remember my complaining after doral when mcilroy was not interviewed- that's nothing, this week was def much worse. not only did they break away from gore and o'hair finishing, but you just get the sense that for all the money they spend on these broadcasts they could be much better. the commentators clearly are strugling w/ the fact that golf is a world game now and americans are not always going to dominate the fields like the past. they struggle tio realize when to talk and when not to. and unfortunately they keep j roberts around to do these emotional-type bits and interviews w/ golfing top dogs. it's clear the majority of the players think him a joke, but do the interviews anyway b/c it's nbc. unfortunate. the worst is pgatour.com, though- how that site decides what is "news" and what isn't completely baffles me! and which player's quotes they publish in the "what they said" is inriguing b/c it's rarely what you are looking for. case in point- nothing from gore after the finish that took him out of the last group and allowed tiger and johnson in!

  • Comment number 48.

    the "debate" as to whether golf is a Sport or a Game

    really interesting

  • Comment number 49.

    almost 9 months out of the game and still Tiger Woods is miles ahead of the rest of the field out there. He is in a complete league of his own and once again we were shown how other players easily collapse under the pressure of playing with him. there was no doubt that putt on 18 was going in, even before he set up we all knew is was ending up in the cup. the fact he can continue to keep uping the ante and creating these shots shows everyone he is simply the greatest athlete to walk this planet.

  • Comment number 50.

    injected beef- jog on

  • Comment number 51.

    In the minority sport of golf, where 99% of us will never hold a club Woods is the best player there is.
    Tiger has a few things in his favour. It is now so easy to get out of trouble when you are wayward. I've seen Woods on so many occasions be 50 yards or more offline and have an easy shot to the green, in Jacks day Tiger would be taking a penalty 3 times every round.
    On Sunday he beat a player who totally bottled it, if that had been Phil, Paddy or many others, who are not intimidated by Woods anymore he would not have caught them.
    Four years ago Tiger was out on his own, that is not the case anymore he is still the best player but the gap is much smaller and I think Lefty will win the Masters because he's in the form of his life.

  • Comment number 52.

    DWALDO, simple question for you. If its so much easier for Tiger to get out of trouble now is it not also therefore easier for all the other players to also get out of trouble. So basically that makes it no easier whatsoever for him to win than if it was harder to score when wayward as again that is the same for all players out there.
    He's not the longest player on tour now, plenty hit further, its said he's not that accurate but when he had to be straight at the Open he kept driver in the bag and won with 3 wood and long irons.
    Why do you think Mickleson isn't intimidated anymore, just seeing Woods win last week will have hurt Phil and you can be sure Tiger can't wait to prove who number 1 is.
    Harrington was right there on Sunday, just a stroke behind Tiger at the start of the day and nowhere near by the end of it, and very few people were suprised at that. Good player that he is Harrington is at least two, probably three leagues behind Woods in the grand scheme of things.
    DWALDO my friend, you are talking rubbish.

  • Comment number 53.

    Too many of you comment on the fact that O'Hair shot 3 over handing the victory to Woods...did you all make the same comment about Faldo's 67 at the Masters when Norman shot 78? It's the pressure applied by the opponent and the circumstance that wins...Tiger didn't falter when O'Hair made a mistake and Tiger made the putts when he erred...that is clutch!!! Nobody mentioned that Tiger's final round was the low round of the day by anybody in the top 15..He may not go down as the greatest of all time, but he is the all time best in a clutch situation.

  • Comment number 54.

    Digbert,
    Wait until the Masters and we will see if Woods is back and the answer will probably be yes and no.
    He is fantastic under pressure but he no longer puts the fear into the other top players as he used to. Mickleson used to bottle it under pressure against anyone but now he doesn't. Tiger is always capable of shooting low but in the past he has won a lot of tournaments because his closest opponents played like O'Hair did on Sunday.

    It might be the mental coaching but more likely other players have improved their game and know Woods is not so far ahead of them.

    By the way of course the fairways are the same for everyone you fool but the lack of punishment for inaccurate shots has taken players who rely on accuracy over length out of the game. Some of the greatest players of all time would not be able to compete now because it's a muscle game over accuracy.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sorry, I just dont understand where you get it from that the best players are not afraid of him. Before his injusy he was winning more or less everything he entered including a major on one leg!!!!
    He's been back for 3 events and already won, Mickleson is in good form but he has often been in good form before, Harrington went backwards when he was in with a shout last week.
    If anything the Woods aura will be stronger than ever, back from injury and already winning, the guys amazing.

  • Comment number 56.

    10. At 10:16am on 30 Mar 2009, INFECTED_BEEF wrote:
    Seriously ... has Tiger EVER come from behind in a major, even by ONE stroke, to win on Sunday?

    No.

    He is, without a doubt, the most over-hyped athlete of the 21st century."


    thats got to be one of the most laughable comments i have ever read on internet forums-winner of 14 majors and countless other tournaments and you call hime over-hyped!!

    not envious by any chance i take it..............

  • Comment number 57.

    Infected_beef

    Tiger, not an athlete??

    Have you seen his daily exercise and practise routines??
    probably not.....

    Vijay Singh hits 1000 golf balls a day

    This obviously takes a lot of physical effort...

    Mike Weir runs 5 miles for a pre round warm up.....

    Get off Tiger supporters backs and do something more beneficial for the human race

  • Comment number 58.

    Ive never felt compelled to make a comment before but all this nonsense between Noallegience & INFECTED_BEEF is just tiresome.

    As an avid club golfer, HC 7, I can honestly say that I feel both of these guys have a point with what they are saying, its just that I feel both of them aren't prepared to give the other a little credit.

    Of course Tiger is peerless and in a class of his own, but its also true that golf is hardly comparable to other sports in terms of the physical prowess, stamina, endurance etc needed to take part in say rugby for example. .

    We all know the lengths that Tiger goes to to stay at the peak of his physical condition for his chosen sport but I would suggest that even he probably wouldn't last 5 minutes if you put him in the middle of an All Blacks vs Australia game, its all relative.

    Its true there are certain pressures that can be brought to bear on your opponent whilst playing matchplay or strokeplay but nothing your opponent does has a direct bearing on what you do in the same way as your opponent can bring to bear in contact sports. As the old saying goes your there to play the course.

    It's also correct to say that golf is not a sport in the same way as others sports but that is not to lessen the true ability needed to do what Tiger does and the level to which he does it. All I can say is that we should admire what Tiger does but but we should also lament the fact the a golfer in the top 50 with a couple of fairly recent wins behind him can conjure up a loss when leading by 5 strokes.

    But, thats the bueaty of the game....

  • Comment number 59.

    I give plenty of people plenty of credit. Every day.

    But not when they use their sphyncter to speak.

  • Comment number 60.

    theres a lot of people in Britain that don't like Tiger as seen from this blog.Its the british way to pull people down when they're at the top. Tiger Woods is the most dominant athlete on the planet, the putts he holed down the stretch on Sunday were nothing short of amazing, and hes proved it time and time again. Its not a fluke with this guy. He will go down as the greatest golfer of all time, I honestly can't see how in the future anyone will be better, they will hit it further, straighter and so on but the tiger is mentally so strong and no-one will ever hole every putt when it matters hes as close as were ever gonna see, so watch and admire because he won't be around forever.

 

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