Thought for the Day:
Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and when he grows up, he’ll never be able to merge his car onto a motorway
There is nothing more pleasing in sport, or life, as a tale of redemption – the hero who trampolines back from desperate disappointment or failure to eventually triumph (you can add the phrase ‘against all odds’ if you wish because most newspapers and magazines probably will). And so, despite huge sympathy for Angel Cabrera, who epitomised how to lose with grace, let us roll out the bunting and raise a glass or three to Adam Scott. Ever since he emerged as a pro golfer there have been predictions of a glowing future, replete with major championships. The most notable of these came from his coach, Butch Harmon, who famously said that Adam’s basic swing fundamentals were better even than those of Tiger, and he was right. Scott has always had a classically orthodox swing of perfect tempo. And the predictions appeared prescient as the young Australian made good progress, with a steady, if not spectacular accumulation of titles – nine wins in America, eight in Europe – with the most notable of these being the Player’s Championship. But that was in 2004 and the huge hole in his CV was his comparatively dreadful form in the majors. For a full decade he simply disappeared when any of the four big ones were played and to say that his major record was a disappointment is akin saying that Paris Hilton is a bit of a goer.
But then he switched to the long putter and suddenly he was a contender. In 2012 alone he finished tied eighth in the Masters, tied 15th in the US Open, tied 11th in the US PGA and of course, runner-up to Ernie Els in The Open, having a cataclysmic meltdown over the last four holes. But like Rory McIlroy before him he was able, somehow, to use that enormous disappointment as a spur rather than sheet anchor. It has taken him a while but I’m sure that if we could ask him this morning he would say that it has all been worthwhile.
Not a loser
Angel Cabrera may not have a second green jacket but he has, I’m sure, made even more friends as a result of coming so close. It has always been easy to like him for the unpretentious, unruffled and uncomplicated way in which he has gone about his business, swinging the club with a languid, easy grace and getting on with it. He has always been a welcome antidote to the affected, if not downright pompous self-importance that seems to afflict so many. Jason Day please take note – it is possible to hit a golf ball both well and in less time than it takes glaciers to form. Cabrera’s apparently genuine admiration for Adam Scott’s play was, for me, the highlight of the week. Having hit his approach shot to what turned out to be the final hole, when Scott matched it he immediately turned and gave a thumbs up (which, inevitably, Peter Alliss missed in the BBC commentary booth). Angel is a true gentleman.
Rules is rules
Of all the majors it is this first one that often throws up more stories and drama that the other three combined and this year it was two highly controversial rules decisions that dominated the news. The first concerned the Chinese teenage prodigy Tianlang Guan – and am I alone in being a little spooked by his apparent absence of emotion? His unchanging facial expression, not smiling even when he holed a crucial putt made me think of a cyborg rather than a young, inexperienced golfer on the journey of a lifetime. Perhaps he was just in shock. Those who suggest, however, that the penalty applied for slow play, the first in Masters history, was unfair, are wide of the mark for two reasons. First, in a sport and event not noted for the speed at which participants move, he stood out as even more excruciatingly slow than the rest. He was spoken to on the 10th, put on the clock at the 12th, warned again on the 13th, and yet again on the 17th tee, before finally getting the stroke penalty while he dithered over his approach to the green on the same hole. Second, the rules official involved was the European Tour’s John Paramor, and to question his integrity, as part of some conspiracy, is to grossly misunderstand the man and his character. Perhaps no-one has, rather famously, ever been docked a stroke before in America because they don’t have officials of the same calibre and guts as John.
Which brings us to Tiger. I have been an advocate, for many years now, of common sense and logic being applied when it comes to rules infringements. Yes, he dropped incorrectly and should have added two penalty strokes to his score and for that, disqualification is the punishment. But the game’s lawmakers recently decided to remind us all that, in exceptional cases, disqualification can be waived by the committee. They reviewed the incident before Tiger signed his card and decided no infringement had taken place. When he then described to the press what he had done, and it became clear that he had violated the rules, the committee looked again and took the very sensible decision that, as they had previously told the player he was okay to sign his card, it would then have been grossly unfair to penalise him retrospectively for following their advice. It raises the question of why, during its review, the committee did not see what was obvious to a blind man (that Tiger was dropping in the wrong place) but that is a different debate for another day.
Quote of the Week
Hitting a golf ball is an act so precise that there is unlimited room for error. That error begins in the mind and finds expression in the swing
Tiger Woods & Stevie Wonder are in a bar.
Tiger turns to Stevie and says, “How’s the singing career going?”
Stevie replies, “Not too bad. How’s the golf?”
Woods replies, “Not too bad, I’ve had some problems with my swing, but I think I’ve got that right, now.”
Stevie says, “I always find that when my swing goes wrong, I need to stop playing for a while and not think about it. Then, the next time I play, it seems to be all right.”
Incredulous, Tiger says, “You play GOLF?”
Stevie says, “Yes, I’ve been playing for years.”
Tiger says, “But — you’re blind! How can you play golf if you can’t see?”
Stevie Wonder replies, “Well, I get my caddy to stand in the middle of the fairway and call to me. I listen for the sound of his voice and play the ball towards him. Then, when I get to where the ball lands, the caddy moves to the green or farther down the fairway and again I play the ball towards his voice.”
But, “how do you putt” asks Tiger.
“Well”, says Stevie, “I get my caddy to lean down in front of the hole and call to me with his head on the ground and I just play the ball toward his voice.”
Tiger asks, “What’s your handicap?”
Stevie says, “Well, actually — I’m a scratch golfer.”
Woods, incredulous, says to Stevie, “We’ve got to play a round sometime.”
Stevie replies, “Well, people don’t take me seriously, so I only play for money, and never play for less than $10,000 a hole. Is that a problem?”
Woods thinks about it and says, “I can afford that; OK, I’m game for that.. $10,000 a hole is fine with me. When would you like to play?”
Stevie Wonder says, “Pick a night.”Add a comment
Thought for the Day
Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened
Heading for Augusta
Hands up if you know what connects the following golfers: Russell Henley, Brian Gay, John Merrick, Michael Thompson, Scott Brown and Kevin Streelman. If you can identify them all as having won on the US PGA Tour so far this season, you’re a bit of an anorak. But then, it is that kind of season. They are joined as 2013 winners by Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods (twice), Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar. More relevantly, all of them will be at the Masters in just under a month – with the exception of Scott Brown, who won the Puerto Rican Open, which doesn’t have a full-point allocation for the Tour Championship and therefore doesn’t meet Augusta’s invitation policy. Hard luck Scott.
All of which is designed to let me off the hook by demonstrating how hard it is to predict the winner of any major, especially the season’s first, when there is comparatively little form with which to measure the runners and riders. In the last 10 years, for example, how many punters put their money on Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson or Mike Weir to have a green jacket draped around their shoulders? However, if we ignore those surprise winners and look at the other triumphs over the past decade, only two names emerge – Phil Mickelson (three times) and Tiger Woods (once). And because both of them have won already this year, albeit with Phil’s victory coming in early February, which already seems a long time ago, they will feature high in the bookies estimation. In fact, it’s difficult to find a bookmaker that doesn’t have Woods, Mickelson and Rory McIlroy (more of him later) as the first three in the pecking order. And most of them favour Tiger, which is no surprise given Rory’s early season problems.
And there is no doubt that Tiger has that old gleam in his eye and, more pertinently, looks to have his putting, such a crucial factor at Augusta, under control. He also wants another major, badly, if he is to have any chance of matching or beating Jack Nicklaus’ record. The unknown is how his nerve will hold up now that he’s a fallible, beatable golfer rather than the dominant titan of the game we saw pre-divorce. But I’m not going to buck the trend because he looks near to his best and that should be good enough.
You’re not a messiah…
A great deal of nonsense has been written and spoken about Rory McIlroy’s early season woes. Yes, he was wrong to walk off the course at the Honda Classic but a bigger mistake was committed a few hours later when he chose to lie about the reason. The sore tooth story was never going to fly once we saw the picture of him happily munching a sandwich a few minutes before heading for the exit. The lame excuse of dental problems sounds like the sort of stupidity dreamed up by a desperate marketing manager trying to exercise some damage limitation which, as so often is the case in these instances, immediately blew up in everyone’s face.
But Rory redeemed himself with an immediate and, one sensed, sincere mea culpa after we all had the opportunity to remind ourselves that he is still only 23-years-old. Considering the microscopic examination to which he is constantly subjected, he has handled it remarkably well for someone of such tender years and we really should cut him a bit more slack for the occasional misjudgment.
As for his form, he’s a hot-streak player who is going through one of those cold periods. His first win in America, at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, came in an event where he made the cut right on the line and then shot 66, 62 at the weekend. And his major victories, in the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA, were by a crushing eight strokes and in both cases followed a modest series of events. As for his equipment change, anyone who expected him to adapt immediately to new clubs was simply deluding themselves.
He will come good again, the only question is whether it will be in time for the Masters.
Goddess of Victory?
Somebody at Nike’s marketing department must have led a pretty bad life in a previous existence, if you believe in reincarnation and the power of karma. The highest profile sports stars on the company’s roster of talent in recent years are Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Rory. Who still believes that all publicity is good publicity?
One final Masters thought
Like many, I would love to see Sergio Garcia win a major but having seen the numerous crushing disappointments experienced by the Spaniard, my dreams are based on hope rather than considered analysis. And yet… He has played four events in America so far, and finished in the top-20 in each with two of those being top-10s. And he always seems to find a way to motivate himself for Augusta. The Achilles heel of putting will always be a concern but recently he seems to have found a reliable method on the greens (although we have been here many times before). Nevertheless, with heart more than head, I fancy him for at least a top-10 finish, and who knows, perhaps Augusta has at least one more fairytale finish in its locker.
Quote of the Week
Comparatively few golfers ever show that they are aware that the golf architect tries to design a course that rewards an intelligent golfer and penalises a stupid one
If you think it’s getting a bit fresh over here, spare a thought for the golfers in the (still) frozen UK. With a wind chill factor of -9 at the local we have nothing but admiration for this brave bunch. And yes, the putt did go in. And no, no penalty was incurred for leaving the flagstick in. They tried to attend it and it stuck to someone’s hand, so was declared a health and safety issue; a committee meeting was held and a local rule put in place for the morning. Really.Add a comment
The Carbon Tax is here…the world is coming to an end…it’s time to take action!
No, we’re not on a political crusade here at GKHQ – unless they bring in laws that take our great game away from us that is. But we did hear that the average family is going to be $30 a year worse off under the new tax, so we thought we’d do something about it. As of today all GoKarts are now $30 cheaper than they were in the pre-carbon tax world. That’s $699 for a GoKart or an incredible $999 for a Lithium GoKart. It still includes courier delivery to your door, a no worries 2 year warranty and, of course, our smiley faces and great service whenever you need it.
So celebrate the Carbon Tax and SAVE $30 today!Add a comment 2 Comments
Now we all know the GoKart is the fastest buggy in the west thanks to it’s 230W motor pumping out the horsepower. But things have started getting a bit ridiculous. I’m happy to report a GoKart has just lapped the Isle of Man at an average speed of 182kph! Don’t believe me? Take a look below
No, you’re not looking at the next generation GoKart, but Phil Harvey in the Isle of Man TT Supersport race on a Team GoKart Electric Golf Yamaha R6. And yes, he really did lap the 60km circuit at an average speed of 182kph…mad!
Anybody else looking for GoKart sponsorship will need to meet similar speed criteria to Phil – video evidence will be required…Add a comment