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Woods shines as Mickelson shows disrespect

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Iain Carter | 13:56 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2012

Another extraordinary week of golf has passed and the major fire has been stoked beautifully ahead of the US Open by Tiger Woods's vintage victory at the Memorial.

Is Woods finished? Does he need to change his coach? It doesn't look that way now. At the very least Woods is back to where he was in 2009 when he won in his last tournament before all four majors.

With his wins at Bay Hill and now in Ohio he is two out of two in that respect again this year.

The question now is whether he can do something that was beyond him three years ago and turn warm-up success into a major triumph. It was well beyond the 14-time major champion at Augusta this year but I suspect he will make a more robust challenge at Olympic Club next week.

Tiger Woods clinched the Memorial Tournament on Sunday. Photo: Getty

Phil Mickelson's withdrawal in Ohio after a disappointing first-round 79, citing fatigue, was less impressive. Just as disappointingly, his premature departure was met with a collectively forgiving shrug of resignation.

There was a general acceptance that Mickelson was better served readying himself for the US Open elsewhere. Never mind the fans who had bought Friday or weekend tickets in the hope of seeing "Lefty" in action.

Mickelson seems to have been given a pass largely off the back of previous good behaviour. He has been a fine ambassador for the game, perhaps the best of recent times.

His natural charisma, engaging personality, inexhaustible willingness to sign autographs and enlightened sense of what sponsors require make him a tournament director's dream.

But imagine the reaction had it been Woods who walked away after the first found? He would have been held to account in a far more critical way than was the case for "good old Phil".

This blog has often spoken in praise of Mickelson but in this case his actions are hard to defend. Once a tournament is entered it should be seen through - unless physical injury makes that impossible.

To treat an event as big as Memorial as a mere major warm-up is disrespectful. This was a big tournament in its own right and, in Woods's sensational chip in at the 16th, it got the finish and champion if deserved.

While we are on the subject of player behaviour, let's consider the limp way in which officialdom deals with breaches of accepted standards.

Many contributors here last week highlighted Wentworth's hall of shame: Rory McIlroy's club throwing, Thomas Bjorn's contretemps with a rules official and Ernie Els's foul mouthed tirade.

Els apologised and made an undisclosed contribution to charity but otherwise we have heard no official word of censure for incidents that did nothing for the game.

It is all too cosy. If a player is fined the punishment should be made known. The embarrassment and shame of the penalty is far greater than any financial forfeit.

That's one if the reasons why Ross Fisher's one-stroke penalty for slow play in Wales is so welcome. Punishments need to be felt. This one also cost Fisher a share of second place and it could ultimately do for his Ryder Cup chances.

I suspect we will see the Englishman seek a quicker pre-shot routine in future, in which case the action has had the desired effect.

While we are in rant mode, could we also have action taken to punish players who don't shout fore when their shots are heading towards galleries? It is no way to treat those who contribute towards your wages.

And could we get into step with the rest of the world and ban smoking in the golfer's workplace? How can we take Spencer Levin for a serious athlete when he's so conspicuously puffing his way round the course?

It is a terrible advertisement for the game and suggests it remains in the dark ages.

All of which has no part in a sport that week in, week out is capable of serving up such captivating entertainment.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Cheers iain, enjoyed this read and have to say I completely agree with every single point made.

    Had Woods carried on like Els or Bjorn he'd be absolutely hammered. And a big shake of the head for Phil - disappointing and out of character.

    What is your opinion on Tiger's shot on the 16th Iain? Your contemporary in the Guardian has seen fit to question Jack Nicklaus' claim that it was one of the most unbelievable shots he has ever witnessed. Donegan claims Bubba's in the Masters playoff was better. I'm with Jack. Having watched everyone's chips and lobs around the 16th green on Sunday night I didn't think it was possible to hole it like that. Then add in the tariff if it goes wrong. Loved Bubba's approach but he had no choice and very little to lose. By that I mean he'd most likely have a decent up and down chance regardless of whether he found green, bunker or rough.

    Fisher getting penalised was strange to watch. He couldn't have been given any more warnings and yet he still allowed his caddy to jabber on for literally minutes before he addressed the ball. Absolutely unreal.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great Post, I was disappointed by Mickleson's withdrawal and cannot believe he didn't come under a lot more scrutiny. With Tigers return to form I think its going to be an interesting US Open.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good grief, ban smoking - I think Mr Clarke may have something to say about that.

  • Comment number 4.

    First in for the first time!
    Well done tiger. Another milestone in his recovery. It may have been slow with Foley but, with this victory is def moving back in the right direction. Not sure he will win the US Open but he will feel much more up for it the young Rory. 3 missed cuts in a row? He's lost his way this year. I think he's distracted by this tennis chick, twitter and Irish rugby. He's not playing enough tournies and needs to regroup for the summer and ryder cup. Disappointed to see Phil Mick dropping out like that. Not like him and let's hope it doesn't happen again.
    US Open predictions
    1. Lee Westwood
    2. Rickki Fowler
    3. Tiger Woods
    4. Jason Day
    5. Martin Laird

  • Comment number 5.

    blast..missed it by 3 mins!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    If Mickelson is suffering from fatigue, so what? Who are you to judge? Mickelson has more time for the game and fans than any other player so for you to accuse him of disrespect it's frankly a disgrace. Let me guess, your trying to be edgy and controversial by criticising one of the most high profile players in the game. How clever!

    Also i don't remember you criticising Darren Clarke for 'puffing' his way to winning the Open. Of course you wouldn't, that would require courage! If i remember correctly you embraced his 'happy go lucky' style. If they want to smoke, let them! It's not illegal.

    Re Tiger - simply awesome! Rory, Luke and Lee, get ready to step aside!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Nice to see Tiger playing well for an entire week especially Sunday. Its been rare to see him 'stripe' it, move the ball both ways and control his 'traj' in order to come from relatively far behind. All of which bodes well for a precision demanding US Open set-up.

    I don't think enough was made of the fact he played with Rickie Fowler though (who along with Rory embodies a 'changing of the guard'). I'm sure the ultra-competitive Woods found extra fuel to prove to himself he isn't over the hill. Playing in the penultimate group with an in-form young gun who seems to be growing into the marketing dream he once was surely ignited someone who for the best part of two years has looked lost and indecisive.

    The concept that Phil (or any sports athlete) could be regarded as 'disrespectful' for pulling out is buzz-word rubbish. Fatigue is a prelude to injury. Citing fatigue it tantamount to saying 'my body is telling me its near breaking point. If I carry on I will suffer an injury. The smart thing to do would be stop'. Phil probably makes 25-30 tour stops a year. Surely he has to think of the long game.

    As for the self confessed rant at the end. I agree shouting for galleries should be standard, not just for safety but out of mutual respect. Nothing would make me go off a player faster than see him snap-hook a shot into a stand, hear nothing, then see him nonchalantly walk after it as if we were cattle.

    As for smoking on course, surely you want to embrace the character and difference between players not stifle it. Imagine Jimenez without a cigar! To be honest, watching 150 people in the same t-shirt and chino combination is already enough to make your eyes bleed. Seeing one with a cloud of smoke attached would be a breath of fresh air.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Iain
    Very much enjoy your blog. But i think your point about Levin is wrong. I don't remember you chastising Miguel Ángel Jiménez about smoking his cigars during the Ryder cup

  • Comment number 9.

    What are you talking about? Ban smoking on the course because it suggests that golf is in the dark ages? Millions of people smoke (though I don't). Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez get nothing more than an "Oh, what a character" when they light up a cigar, so what's the difference? The way golf clubs, or some of them, treat women is more indicative of whether the sport remains in the "dark ages", not whether someone can light up a fag. Get off your high horse.

  • Comment number 10.

    agree 100% with david @#6

    spot on re mickelson...saw his press conference after his withdrawal...gracious, courteous and respectful...back off carter!

    re smoking...so what?!

    re tiger...awesome indeed...flop shot on 16 was unreal...95% genius and 5% luck but you make your own luck

    i'm not a great tiger fan but the joke of the century remains that he's behind luke, rory and westwood in the world rankings...especially the latter!

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes Ian, get off your high horse. Because Phil has been such a great ambassador for the game is the reason he gets a full pass & not a partial one as you’ve thought fit to hand out. There are many many reasons why he may have, legitimately, decided it was best not to carry on and because he didn’t think it appropriate to share those with you doesn’t warrant your reaction. Imagine if it were Tiger… well it has been in the past and with TW it is usually totally motivated by ego and his sense of self-importance.

  • Comment number 12.

    With golf now approved for 2016 Olympics, on course smoking should be banned during competition . The sport needs TV sponsorship and to do so should project a responsible image and competitors should promote sport's health and fitness benefits. I can't imagine Jessica Ennis or Sir Chris Hoy having a puff between sessions. If there was a time to flag this issue, now is that time.

  • Comment number 13.

    I enjoyed this article by Mr Carter. However, golf is a game like no other, it has upheld traditions while many sports along side it have modernized and 'moved with the times', not always for the better. Smoking on the course has always been a part of the game, which is played for the most part, socially. I think we should take golfers seriously based on their golf and not on whether they smoke on the course or not, and after Mr Levin's gutsy performance, I don't think many people would consider him a joke. If children are influenced by a golfer smoking on a course, then they should ban smoking on all films rated below 18...where does it stop?

  • Comment number 14.

    At last someone has the balls to punish a player for slow play and a high profile name too! I'd like to see more of this and also ban or at least restrict the input from caddies . No problem with the giving yardage/ club advice but I think it's plain wrong that they can assist in selecting line/ break of putt etc.surely that is a key skill of any player.

  • Comment number 15.

    @1: I'm no pro, and no expert coach, but if Jack says it's one of the best he's ever seen surely we can accept that? Most of us haven't had to play that green or that shot, but if Jack played some blinders himself and thinks so, it's saying something!

    As for the behaviour : It's not really pretty on a Sunday golf course let alone on T.V., but at least we can get away with it due to a lack of cameras.
    But these guys are human, playing competetive golf, and these things happen. It's just if it happens week in week out, it will need some rethinking along the lines that Iain has suggested.

    Finally, slow play. I am convinced that it should be how long a round takes, not a shot. If someone wants 1 minute on one shot and 15 seconds on another so be it. Some shots are harder or more important than others.

    @4: Provisional US Open predictions:
    1: Bubba
    2: Phil
    3: Dufner
    4: Rory
    5: Louis Oost-howeveryouspellit-en

  • Comment number 16.

    I enjoy reading your blog and think that you are absolutely right about ensuring that, as the saying goes, "justice is not merely done but is seen to be done" when it comes to rule breakage or inappropriate behaviour or comments. It does set a poor example to others, whether existing club golfers or juniors.

    However, I am sorry that you saw fit to have a very one dimensionsal pop at smoking on the course. In fact I was heartened to see the fair reaction of the other comments about it. Of course, I have confess that I am a smoker ... I do resort to a relaxing puff after three putting from 20 feet! Does help to de-stress!

    Should be a very good US Open ... McIlroy and Mickleson gone, Tiger probably back there or thereabouts, Donald and Westwood "close but no cigar" ... this is a major for a 16-1 or more shot if not Bubba ...

    What is the course like? Will it favour anyone in particular?

  • Comment number 17.

    Enforcing a ban on all courses is logistically impossible of course, but for professionals to smoke whilst playing what is now recognised as an Olympic sport is crazy.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nordea Masters picks :
    Sergio garcia
    Lee Westwood
    Ross fisher

    St Jude:
    Dusting Johnson
    Kyle Stanley
    Jhon Vegas

    FAO: jimmy, sorry it's early I'm away all week so had to get then in quick!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Come on Iain, the ban smoking thread is ridiculous." Serious athletes" ? Have you seen. Clarke, Jiminez, lumpy Herron, Colt Knost, Carl Pettersen and all the other gym dodgers? Should Olympic selection be based on golfing ability or waist size! Get a grip.

  • Comment number 20.

    @1. Donegan at the Gaurdian needs to get his quotes and comments right before passing comment. Jack Nicklaus said he thought that Tiger's shot at the 16th was one of the best shots he'd seen at the Memorial and not of all time. Comparing the two and criticising Jack in the way he did is just bad reporting. I suspect the Guardian reporter didn't even hear Jack's comments and is reporting comments heard third hand.

  • Comment number 21.

    Good blog Iain.

    Although I can let Phil off the hook because it's big phil,I agree if TW did this then there would be a quote from Jack Nicklaus.


    Fisher was painstakingly slow even after been put on the clock!!

    And what about Jamiesons remarks on twitter which he had to apologise for? Tut tut

  • Comment number 22.

    Please give a reverential bow to the many Golfing "GREATS" of the past who smoked their way round the world showing us the best golf of their eras.
    May they rest ( or still be alive ) in peace and be glad they do not any longer have to perform for the Clean Live-for-ever Brigade of Do-Gooders who now rule our lives.
    Any readers who can still remember some of those famous players, please name a few - and then express a reaction to my comments.
    NobClarke, Shrewsbury.

  • Comment number 23.

    I 100% agree with Davidmcc,

    Mickleson makes more effort interacting with fans in one tornament week than Tiger does in an entire season. This is also the same Phil Mickleson who skipped a torament because it was and I quote "My week to do the school-run".

    So if anyone should given the benefit of the doubt it is him.

    Yes, Tiger would of lambasted if he had done it, but that's because he hasn't earnt the brownie points Phil has with the crowds.

  • Comment number 24.

    Excellent blog Iain. PM....If he pulled out, citing fatigue (after a "gruelling" walk of 18 holes!!) then he surely wasn't ready beforehand. It certainly looked suspect after shooting a 7 over round. I'm led to believe he'd been in Europe on holiday/touring!!

    Jack Nicklaus said in his commentary shortly after TW's amazing shot..."That's one of the most incredible golf shots you'll ever see".

  • Comment number 25.

    First things first. Jimmy - Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson.
    More to follow!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good blog Ian highlighted some good points from the weekend.
    Funny how phil can do one and not much is said woods would have been panned for wimping out.
    Interesting how after the blog fisher got a penalty well done jp for doing it.
    Any how serious business Ian any news on the golf day myself and manina had the inaugraul blog match last week which weather apart was a great success :)

  • Comment number 28.

    St Jude: - David Toms, Kyle Stanley, Martin Laird.

    A tip off for you guys for future - as if the Lawrie / Lawrie ambiguity wasn't enough, there is an amateur called Robert Karlsson playing in the Nordea Masters, whilst the 'real' one is playing in the US.

    Watch out, cos Jimmy might throw the rule book at you!

  • Comment number 29.

    Some interesting points and counter points. My twopenneth:

    Whether JN said 'of all time' or 'at this tournament' is splitting hairs a bit. It has to be one of the best shots of all time, at that stage in a tournament. There have probably been many better on 5th holes in 1st rounds, but to do it (again) in a tight tournie on the 3rd from last hole is special. And it was a really hard AND risky shot

  • Comment number 30.

    Mr Carter - if you're going to ban smoking whilst working then you need to ban drinking as well AND this applies to ALL journalists as well as sportsmen. See how much support you get for that amoungst your brethern.....

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with most of this, apart from Iain Carter's bizarre suggestion to ban smoking from the golfer's 'workplace' (which happens to be outside, so the usual arguments based on passive smoking don't apply). If the pros want to smoke on course, leave them to smoke, banning it just to 'send a message' amounts to nothing more than discrimination.

  • Comment number 32.

    Looks like the Great Bear was right after all. Words of wisdom. RM is missing cut after cut. But don't worry, he will make the cut at the US Open. He will successfully defend his US Open title. His win last year was not a fluke.

    On the other hand, as many have said, Tiger is finished. These recent 2 wins are flukes - no more, no less.

    Finally, to Iain Carter, a good blog, raising the difficult questions/issues.

  • Comment number 33.

    Mickleson is an interesting one. It is his right to withdraw I suppose, buit Iain makes a good point that the paying fans are what got him there, and he has maybe let them down by pulling out. I suppose it depends how 'fatigued' he was, and whether he might have done himself an injury or something.

    I haven't seen the Fisher incident but if he was put on the clock and then got a bad time it's his own fault. Being put on the clock should be a warnign to make sure you don't transgress, irrespective of who's fault the slow play was in the first place.

  • Comment number 34.

    Re the smoking debate, I don't agree with you there IC. If players want to smoke, they are within their rights. I think if anything the onus is on the TV people to avoid showing it, not the players (and to be fair, they manage to do so from what I have seen). It never seemed to hurt Socrates!
    I didn't even know LEvin smoked. The question is - what was he smoking on the back nine????

    For my money, the part of golf which is deplorable is all the high fives and fist pumps that Woods (amongst others) has popularised. (I think a simple doff of the cap or touch of the brim should suffice!) Golf is the one sport that is (or should be) free of cheating and gamesmanship, and this behaviour (especially after Brookline) is poor, and disrespectful to your playing partner.

    The worst example was Azinger when he was the Ryder Cup captain, with this "13th man" tripe. He may as well have said 'be as loud as possible and try to put the Eurpoeans off'. Idiot.

  • Comment number 35.

    It would have been great to see a link to Tiger's sensational chip in - a bit lazy by the journo.

    Since when does strolling about a nicely mown field (caddy doing all the work) qualify as athleticism?

  • Comment number 36.

    BMG fisher was warned then put on the clock so no one else to blame but himself

  • Comment number 37.

    Surely banning players smoking out in an open air golf course is way over the top, would not have put you down as one of the PC brigade. As for the US open, accuracy of the Tee is going to be crucial and scrambling. Looking at the Stats for this year so far, Luke Donald has to fancy his chances big style. Zach Johnson is also a great bet at 40/1.

  • Comment number 38.

    @15 - If it were judged on how long a round takes the group would be finished before any action (none) could be taken! Groups or individual players are only timed when they have gone out of position and are behind the timing schedule. They are usually warned first unless miles off the pace. They are aware they are being timed as the official will be inside the ropes and visible. They know the drill, know the time allowance and know the consequences. No excuse for Fisher, the group finished nearly 40 minutes behind schedule despite being 'on the clock' for nearly half the round.

    He was given 2 bad times, the second one incurred the penalty and he wasn't even close to the allowable time. When the group in front finished (on the clock too), Fisher's game was on the 16th green!!

    Good on the Tour for taking a stance and seeing it through - slow play is talked about all the time and good to see them standing firm - message well and truly sent.

  • Comment number 39.

    36 Davey, that's how it should be.

    Just a question though - why didn't you warn maninasuitcase about that bridge?

  • Comment number 40.

    Good blog Iain, I have one or two differences of opinion over some of your points however the smoking ban I totally agree with and in fact I'm amazed at the amount on here who are extolling the virtues of 'a good puff' in between shots.
    Wake up guys, this is sport in the modern era. How many other professional sportsmen smoke whilst they're doing what they do? Don't see many cricketers on the 3rd man boundary having a quick drag in between overs, do you? Not many footballers seen passing round the baccy on the bench, are there?
    Would you really want to see a bunch of guys passing round a B&H just before a penalty shoot-out 'just to calm the nerves'?
    Love it or loathe it smoking has become a big no-no in all forms of life, social or otherwise, that's why we have bans on it during daily life, bans on advertising and sponsorship etc.
    A few on here have accused Iain of getting on horse. I'm gonna saddle up and do the same:
    I like Darren Clarke as a golfer and shed a tear or two when he won the Open. I shed the same tears when the US team and their wives were so gracious and welcoming to him at the Ryder Cup when it was held at the K Club, shortly after the tragedy that befell him and his family, particularly Amy Mickelson who has undergone her own problems. In that respect I do find it difficult watching him constantly 'fagging it' round the course when everyone knows the dangers of smoking and the diseases it causes, none more so than Darren.

  • Comment number 41.

    All in all quite a good blog Iain, in that it covers a few interesting points that can be debated hotly.

    So far the comments are all fairly sensible and on-topic (where is that Bilo anyway).

    Just to change that, can I ask Iain a couple of questions:

    1. What are your favourite golf courses (for instance those that at which you would most like to play a charity golf day)?

    2. What is your favourite humourous golf novel (published in say the last 12 or so months)? Let us know if you can think of any, and we can ask for suggestions.

    (Davey, are you poised?)

  • Comment number 42.

    40 RMPTaff , fair comment, but the fact is that smoking is legal and golf is hardly an endurance sport. And it's outdoors. Yes I suppose they could ban it and probably will one day, but the comparison to other sports doesn't really hold up. Darts and snooker are probably the nearest benchmarks, and they are both indoors.

    Don't you think that a simpler answer would be to let them smoke, and just make sure that no smoking is televised? If necessary, those players who smoke should be totally vetoed from being broadcast. Wouldn't that solve it?

  • Comment number 43.

    ......concentrating on the negatives again, I see. Boring.

  • Comment number 44.

    BMG the bridge slipped my mind and to be honest I was doubtful that he would get there though he did really get hold of his trusty 4 wood it was hawkesworth esq in its execution as was I in his execution.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Boike-Meister General,
    Sorry, don't agree there. Not televising it doesn't mean it didn't happen. It's the same when there is a streaker. TV cameras are pointed away, but a naked person still ran onto the pitch!
    An earlier poster said it had a calming effect after 3 putting from 20 feet, or something similar. Wouldn't that have the same effect on a professional golfer who smokes? What next? A wee dram to settle the shakes? Quick massage before teeing off on the 18th, 1 shot ahead of the field?
    Or should we let it continue and when it gets inclement on the course, conditions a bit damp we could let all the smoking players huddle in a little bus shelter on the middle of the course, like all the other 'snoutcasts'?
    Keep it off the course, end of.

  • Comment number 46.

    I enjoyed the Memorial. It was a good tournament...could you not see any of the positives in that event or weren't you following it?

  • Comment number 47.

    "43.At 13:42 5th Jun 2012, El Guaje wrote:
    ......concentrating on the negatives again, I see. Boring."

    A masterclass in irony!

  • Comment number 48.

    45 RMPTaff , we will probably end up agreeing to disagree, but your argument is hard to take seriously. The massage and bus shelter comments are a bit lame really.

    IMO the issues really are (a) health (specifically that of non-smokers) and (b) promoting the habit.

    The fact that it is outdoors basically covers (a). Comparison with football and cricket has no substance for obvious reasons (a moving ball that the players must react to)

    If the broadcasters cut out all coverage of smokers, TV viewers would be unaware of it and that would just leave the spectators at the venue. It's not like they won't ever see anyone else smoke. I don't see the problem.

    I'm sure they will eventually ban it, but for now it is a legal habit and as long as they aren't promoting it then I think it's harmless.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm sure they will eventually ban it, but for now it is a legal habit and as long as they aren't promoting it then I think it's harmless. The Boike-Meister General.
    -------------------------------------
    Now THAT is irony my friend!

  • Comment number 50.

    RMPTaff , a very amusing play on words but can't you come up with a serious argument?

  • Comment number 51.

    I've made my argument. This is professional sport. How many other professional sportsmen in this modern era do you see with a snout hanging out of their mouth whilst at work in front of an audience/gallery, televised or otherwise?

  • Comment number 52.

    I think BMG & RMP should settle this tit-for-tat "cigarette battle" on Davey's local golf track, and, have a "belly putter" showdown instead at the 19th!

  • Comment number 53.

    mattefc,
    Ha ha, think I'd come off second best there!

    I follow a simple edict:

    If you look and act professional, then that is how people will percieve you.

    http://golf.procon.org/files/1-golf-images/john-daly.jpg

  • Comment number 54.

    well said BMG @#48...what next, ban me from having a marlboro on my own patio in case my neighbours' kids see me?! [i'll answer my own question...the way this country's going, it's only a matter of time!]

  • Comment number 55.

    Great read as always, and all points are valid for my mind. But please remember to proof read your article, two errors from the BBC journos!!

  • Comment number 56.

    @55..I found one when I first read it (champion "if" deserved), I'll have another read.

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi im new to this site so be gentle with me, re-mickleson i think your right people buy tickets to watch these guys to play until unable too, i like lefty but he should have carried on, as for woods....well he is like a shooting star you may only see one in your life so enjoy while he is here. It makes me smile because mcilroy,westwood and co started to pick holes in him and i bet they cant believe he is back to destroy them and head golf all over again. Some of us never gave up on the greatest golfer to ever step on a course and now we can sit back and watch the also runs run for cover.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think if Spencer Levin wants to convey an image of an athletic sportsman, then that is entirely down to his own decisions. Judging the man for smoking was incredibly crass, looking down your nose at someone who you percive to dampen the image of a game you merely write about?

    Are you worried Iain, that at a dinner party when you reveal the sordid details of blogging at the BBC for proffessional golf, that the opinion of you will be diminished because the guy smokes a cigarrette? Implying that something that irritates you is somehow having a bigger impact on the game as a whole is arrogant, pig headed and im sure hints at emotions of oedipul magnitude. Did Mr Carter smoke?

  • Comment number 59.

    Ian, good blog. And it's nice to see you sticking your neck out, I think the people attacking you on this blog forget how boring it would be if you always toed the party line so to speak.

    I agree with you on Phil. But he ultimately he does seem to be one of golf's good guys.

    No smoking on the course...? No doubt it does no good for sponsorship. But it's an isolated few who do it. And would it actually be enforceable by law. I think raising the possibility of it being banned might kick up a fuss and remind everyone that some golfers do actually smoke. I tend to forget about it most of the time.

  • Comment number 60.

    hey matt @#58...love your comment and love your eloquence!

  • Comment number 61.

    The smoking issue has literally set the blog on fire!!!
    Does anyone think TW's wonder shot was better than the 16th at Augusta in 2005??

  • Comment number 62.

    @54, the2ironkid,
    What you do at home on your patio is entirely up to you, as it should be.
    Yours is a poor analogy though, unless of course you work from home, your patio is your working environment and you are beamed to an audience of thousands/millions(that would include impressionable kids) whilst doing so!

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    yes, matt [@#61]...i do...and here's why...

    i'm a half-decent golfer [h'cap 5] and i reckon i could have made the augusta shot if you'd given me enough tries

    the memorial shot, however, you could have left me there for 10 years and i'd still be trying to hole it

    not many players in the world could make that shot, especially under that sort of pressure

  • Comment number 65.

    hey voldemort...who rattled your cage, you arrogant ******?

  • Comment number 66.

    61. @mattefc,
    To answer your question I believe the shot at Memorial was far more difficult. With that lie in the longer stuff and the slope of the green going away from him, that shot could have run all day had he got it wrong.
    Conversely, everything was with him at Augusta i.e. good lie and the slope of the green to bring it back down so for me the Memorial shot gets the prize.

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree that Establishment Golf Figures are more likely to indulge PhilM than they are TigerW. This is only a recent thing, though. As long as Tiger was the No.1 American sportsman, drawing the crowds and sponsors, and playing superb golf then his on-course bad behaviour was overlooked. As his reputation and game evaporated, so did the wilful blindness to his stand-offish, arrogant and rude behaviour. (There's a lesson to be learnt there, Rory, before it's too late....)

    I would go further than Iain in putting these fine athletes through their paces.

    * No eating Kit-Kats, Twixs, bananas or rounds of sandwiches on the course.
    * They must jog between holes.
    * No lavatory breaks except at half time.
    * No drinks, except those supplied by stewards at staging posts.
    * They can only smoke in the out of bounds area.
    * They cannot have a caddie on the green.

    And so on .......

  • Comment number 68.

    @65 the2ironkid you prove my point.

  • Comment number 69.

    Regarding smoking-let them smoke. They are at work and have different ways of dealing with work related stress, it's outdoors and harming nobody else. At the very worst they could have dedicated smoking areas beside the odd tee and the tv cameras could avoid it. Plus there is something about golf and smoking- I have mates who do not smoke but have the odd fag on the golf course just because the are with the lads and away from their wives. Besides, I had 5 quid e/w on Levin at Memorial and I only wish he'd smoked more, given his implosion on the final day...

  • Comment number 70.

    My final (probably) twopennth on this smoking thing...

    RMPTaff, if your argument is "How many other professional sportsmen in this modern era do you see with a snout hanging out of their mouth", then it's a bit thin in my view.

    The main reasons that we don't see smoking in other sports are :

    1. It's not possible or practical to smoke (eg F1, cycling, football etc)
    2. It's indoors and thus banned legally due to environmental reasons (snooker, darts)
    3. The participants are on camera the whole time and the media do not want to publicise smoking in this way
    4. The participants need to be in peak physical condition in order to compete, and therefore don't smoke

    None of which really hold true for golf. Hence my argument is that there is no obvious reason (a) to outlaw it, or (b) for the participants to abstain. So far I haven't seen a particularly credible counter argument, and that includes Iain's blog itself.

    The best I could come up with is that, whilst it is not very conspicuous, the general trend towards eliminating smoking from public places (if not society as a whole) will eventually come to bear and it will be banned. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened prior to the Olympics. Personally, I still think that they can let smokers smoke on the course and it wouldn't have any real impact on anyone other than the player himself.

    I'm sure it was Nick Price who listed smoking on the course as one of his vices, but I never even knew he smoked until then either. I watched the coverage on Sun and didn't notice it with Levin

    61 matte - there are a lot of parallels between Woods' shot on Sunday and the one at the Masters, thats for sure. Suffice to say that both will be part of his highlights reel. Did anyone notice if the Nike tick was quite as prominent this time?

  • Comment number 71.

    69, Stuart - as I said before, perhaps it was a case of WHAT he was smoking???

  • Comment number 72.

    I think its worth remembering that a blog is about opinion, it is not a news story, therefore to attack a blog writer personally for offering an opinion that differs to your own merely comes across as self important and intolerant. I believe some people have fallen into this particular trap on this particular blog.

    That said there is an issue on which i disagree with Iain and that is the issue of smoking. I think that the nannyism that surrounds smokers these days is way way over the top. It is a personal choice and not one which should be used to cast aspersions on an individual. Many people are far to quick to judge these days.

    I also know that it is incredibly difficult to go 4 or 5 hours without a cigarette, particularly if you know in advance that you are going to have to endure that sort of period without one. A ban therefore is essentially a punishment to any players that do smoke (I must say i have seen it very rarely indeed). One thing a ban would do is help with the issue of slow play, as all the smokers virtually ran round the course in order to get their next fix as quickly as possible.

    By the way, in the interest of clarity i make the above comments as a former smoker, rather than a current smoker.

  • Comment number 73.

    @64/66....I agree, has to be one of the best (if not the!!) golf shots we'll ever see.

  • Comment number 74.

    67, Edith Crispin, you've reminded me of an interesting story about Sergio a few years back. he played his shot and then went off to the portaloo. He was in there ages and his playing partner was getting worried about getting put on the clock. When he came out the player asked Sergio's caddy why he took so long, to which he replied "Surely you know that he always regrips about twenty times before he feels comfortable..."

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm not a Mikelson fan but, in the light of the debilitating early-onset arthritis he is afflicted with, I think it's unreasonable to question his decision. Anyone connected with the Tour knows he doesn't take that sort of decision lightly. Tiredness for him has rather different implications than it would for a fully fit golfer.

    Responding to a comment on Woods' interaction with the fans, as a tournament marshal I can assure you that there is no way we could allow Tiger to stand signing autographs at the end of his rounds in the way Phil does. Depending on the tournament and the day, the gallery following Tiger is between 10,000 and 25,000 strong. Even with Phil (whose gallery is perhaps one tenth that) we have problems ensuring that the kids in "autograph alley" do not get injured. For Tiger, to even pause is out of the question - and that's before we start to worry about the issue of his security. Any "hole captain" at an event where Tiger plays will tell you that we are judged entirely on whether we can get him through our hole without incident. (Tiger's failure to qualify for the playoffs last year was a great relief - meant that many of us could actually enjoy the week a little.)

  • Comment number 76.

    72 Jimmy, the voice of reason as usual. That was partly my point, i.e. byt all means have your opinion but at least try and back it up with some sort of logical argument.

    Is there going to be a league update, or have I missed it? Or did no-one score this week? And can I have those points from the Hond ... oh never mind

  • Comment number 77.

    Iain

    I know Golf has moved on due to the attention that Tiger Woods bought with him with his relentless dedication and determination to winning with superior preparation and increased fitness before all his troubles

    As for the smoking... no mention of the original wild boy JOHN DALY who was known for chain smoking and beer drinking and looked somewhat out of place on a golf course before his weight loss.

    I've seen many golfers taking a puff before a shot but Golf did not suffer the reputation like Darts which was a pub sport filled with smokers and alcoholics that needed a revamp of the sport's image

    As for Mickelson's withdrawal disappointing to the least maybe it could be handled better in the future that he should have withdrawn before hand to earn a bit more sympathy with the fans

  • Comment number 78.

    as for Woods form is temporary class is permanent..okay he has been a bad boy and paid for it dearly so maybe now he has found his enjoyment for the game again which could mean trouble for the rest of the golfing world

  • Comment number 79.

    75 ravelston , very good post. I hadn't thought of point 1 (Phil's arthritis) and wasn't really aware of point 2 (getting Woods off the course pronto). Superb post, I'd like to invite you to the fb page (if matte allows it!)

    I do think that Phil would have done himself a favour if he had alluded to his condition more publicly. People may have understood more. But that's probably not his style - he probably didn;t want to look like he was making excuses.

  • Comment number 80.

    Positives to chat about:
    1. Tiger Woods’ shot on 16 was fantastic. There were many Tour golfers tweeting until he made that shot. Very quiet afterwards. Who else could have made that shot at that time? My guess is that Seve would be the only other player thinking of holing it.
    2. Woods’ will be a real contender at the US Open. Aiming down the left side of most fairways and fading ala Monty 20 years ago and using the whole width of the fairway. The tournament will be better for it.
    3. Enjoyed watching Spencer Levin, max. 10 stone, leaning on every drive trying to get it round. Made for good viewing especially the 3rd round.
    4. Another positive Spencer Levin’s putting was exceptional. Funny looking putter though.
    5. Rory Sabatini’s head didn’t explode.
    6. And finally how challenging were those 2 par threes on the back nine (the 12th (wedge) and the 16th (7 iron)) and yet I only saw Sabatini hit the green (3 feet on 12) in final round and that might have been a bit lucky! Can’t remember tour pros struggling to hit short par 3s before.
    7. Tiger's agent gets done for DUI on Saturday. Quoted as saying to the copper "don't you know who I am?" Copper says to his colleague. "Watch out this bloke doesn't know who he is!" Classic.

  • Comment number 81.

    I should caution golf purists that their complaints about a few PGA pro golfers' bad behavior amounts to petty wussie-crabbing compared to the almost-criminal manner many pro athletes behave in other sports. Just check Joey Barton's behavior on the pitch, eye-gouging tackles in rugby etc. Overall, I say golf has got it very good, even with the cigar huffing and puffing by some. Come to think of it, many golf lovers are cigar-chomping, single-malt-whisky-sipping, mid-riff-bulged men with misplaced priorities in life. So, better not raise their ire by going after
    cigar-chomping Cabrera's of the PGA.

    As for JN's hastily uttered superlative comment about Wood's shot on 16th, well, Jack knows what is good for his tournament: a nice headline-grabbing comment to please Tiger lovers, which are pretty much the entire US golfing fans. It puts his tournament in the map long after it is over, and his quote entering in the book of golfing qutoable quotes.

    US Open predictions: I will do no such thing, especially as it pertains to Tiger. It is more than likely that after enduring a lengthy and listless golfing for nearly 3 years, Tiger is entitled to one or two lucky and breath-taking shots that set up a win. But to regard this as a harbinger of a Tiger-romp of the upcomming US Open is at best wishful, and at worst utterly misplaced. Woods is not his old swaggering and intimidating self. He is a different person and golfer now at 36 years of age. In the years to come, I shudder we will see average play from him interrupted by
    occasional brilliance. The latter should not be mistaken for a forerunner that the deposed Emperor of Golf will finally come back to regain his crown. The unpleasant truth might be that Tiger, as Sabatini bravely and accurately once declared, is still very "beatable".

  • Comment number 82.

    ......ref post 79 The Boike-Meister General wrote: Superb post, I'd like to invite you to the fb page (if matte allows it!)

    That's how it starts........golf days next......

  • Comment number 83.

    not shouting fore is very dangerous. I find it hard to believe that someone in the crowd hasn't taken out a law-suit when hit when nothing has been shouted. Is there a disclaimer when you attend tournaments?

  • Comment number 84.

    @71 Boike

    Yes would have been interesting to smell the odour from Levin's smoke on Sunday as he did play like he was stoned. In fact, during the back 9 I did not see him play one singe good long shot. With his ugly swing, lack of follow through etc he looked like an above average club golfer at best. But-boy did he putt. He sunk a ton of 8-12 feet putts, albeit usually for par. I'd have won nearly a grand had he won, but in the end I was relieved he held onto 5th, the way he was playing.

  • Comment number 85.

    77 @IL_LEONE,

    No mention of Daly? Take a look at my post #53.

  • Comment number 86.

    With you all the way until the smoking. Who the Hell cares if Levin does it - it's his lookout. In addition, the pro golfers' "workplace" is outside in the fresh air and it would hard to make a case for a health hazard to anyone except the player concerned and, again, that's up to him/her isn't it?

  • Comment number 87.

    Phil is one of the greatest ambassadors this great game has had. He also had arthritis Iain, so catch a grip.

    Tiger will be 'back' when he has won another major.

    As for smoking, I think it is a persons right to smoke if they want. However when you put yourself into the public view like golfers do then I think you give a little bit of your freedom away. I certainly don't believe it should be banned for normal tour events but I do think it should be managed better. RE Clarke and Miguel - personally I do see cigars a little differently to cigarettes but maybe thats just me. As for the Olympics issue, I do think they should be banned for the Olympics - this is a sporting spectacle for athletes. And true athletes do not smoke. End of story for me!

  • Comment number 88.

    If I want to say..... that is the best shot I've ever seen at Muirfield, who are you to pour scorn at my opinion?

    Never forget - Bear knows best!

  • Comment number 89.

    *Has/had arthritis.

    Not entirely sure of the tense I should use!

  • Comment number 90.

    #87,
    Interesting how you make excuses for one PM. PM cited fatigue, nothing to do with injury. However, when one TW withdrew, citing injury, all the knives were out. This is despite his his injury-riddled history. Interesting!

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 88 Golden Bear

    No-one's scorning at your opinion. Stop trolling.

  • Comment number 92.

    #90,

    ....like he's going to tell the whole world on CBS.

  • Comment number 93.

    Because I have far more respect and trust for Phil than Tiger Woods. Phil didn't drag our game through the gutter and back. I will never forgive TW.

  • Comment number 94.

    @75 ravelston....Is it also true that plain clothed police mingle amongst the galleries following TW? As one of the most hated people in the USA who regularly receives death threats, I wouldn't be in a hurry to go and sign autographs and be "all PM" either!

  • Comment number 95.

    For my money, the part of golf which is deplorable is all the high fives and fist pumps that Woods (amongst others) has popularised. (I think a simple doff of the cap or touch of the brim should suffice!) Golf is the one sport that is (or should be) free of cheating and gamesmanship, and this behaviour (especially after Brookline) is poor, and disrespectful to your playing partner.

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

    Get a life. We used to be a race that killed each other for sport, and now we're a race that can't get away with a fist pump after a amazing shot???.

  • Comment number 96.

    Mickelson was disrespectful, if he was tired, he shouldn't have entered the tournament, instead let another golfer take his spot never-mind fans who bought tickets as well as a great host.

  • Comment number 97.

    Olympic sport as Golf is now shouldn't tolerate smoking on the golf course period. Wait for your round to finish if you want cigarette.

  • Comment number 98.

    well said BMG @#48...what next, ban me from having a marlboro on my own patio in case my neighbours' kids see me?! [i'll answer my own question...the way this country's going, it's only a matter of time!]

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

    I kid you not on this one, my mate told me his neighbours told him to stop drinking (Carsberg) because their kids were on the trampoline and could see him drinking. I'm telling you the truth, and when he had a little go at them for it (Totally in reason IMO) they threatened him with the police.

  • Comment number 99.

    12.
    At 09:36 5th Jun 2012, gkgolf wrote:

    With golf now approved for 2016 Olympics, on course smoking should be banned during competition . The sport needs TV sponsorship and to do so should project a responsible image and competitors should promote sport's health and fitness benefits. I can't imagine Jessica Ennis or Sir Chris Hoy having a puff between sessions. If there was a time to flag this issue, now is that time.


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

    Right on the money

  • Comment number 100.

    gbell...I've got to disagree dude. TW did not harm our game of golf in any shape or form (apart from if you're referring to ratings/revenue etc).
    What he done was, what (statistically speaking) 50% of married people have done. The only people he hurt was himself, his family and anyone else connected closely to it!

 

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