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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

Jimmy Demaret and I had the best sports psychologist in the world. His name was Jack Daniels and he was waiting for us after every round.
JACKIE BURKE

 

    

Saturday
Aug182007

"Tiger's decision to blow it off sends a message to everyone โ€” other players, sponsors, fans โ€” about how unimportant it really is."  **

fedexcuplogo.jpgHere I was going to begin the PGA Tour "Playoffs" with a special watch to see who would be the first to declare the FedEx Cup a "disaster."

Well shoot, they haven't even begun the darn playoffs and already SI's Jim Gorant uses Tiger's absence to pretty much say so, while Sportsline's Steve Elling is even tougher, declaring it the FraudEx Cup.

Gorant writes of Tiger's pass:

The aftermath is nothing short of a disaster. The Tour is attempting to change its entire business model, and this is the first tournament ever in the four-event playoff series. Tiger's decision to blow it off sends a message to everyone — other players, sponsors, fans — about how unimportant it really is. If he returns for the last three weeks and still wins the cup, a distinct possibility, it won't make everything all right. It would only reinforce the original message and exaggerate it. "Told ya it's no biggie to skip the Barclays."
Tiger has begged every columnist in the country to ask: In what other sport can you skip a quarter of the playoffs and still win? If the FedEx Cup survives, which is not a given, the Tour should reconfigure it so that no player can win if he skips a playoff tournament. Otherwise the entire thing stands to become a joke.

The killer is that part of the reason behind the remaking of the schedule was Woods's lobbying for a shorter, more compact season. He was consulted during the planning stages and gave the entire program his approval (although he was and still is unhappy about the $10 million first prize being a deferred payment). To turn his back on it now damages the entire undertaking.

Among Elling's finer points:

After more than a year of incessant self-promotion and endless hype, playing the opening round of the so-called playoffs minus the game's top star is a blow that no amount of creative slant can correct. But that didn't stop the tour from trying.

"We're disappointed that Tiger will not be playing The Barclays next week," said Ty Votaw, an executive vice president with the tour. "It's clear from Tiger's statement he remains focused on winning the FedEx Cup. Whether he can do it will be one of the many exciting things our fans will be following over the next four weeks."

Maybe he meant mini-exciting things.

Spin control? You bet. The first tee ball of the inaugural playoffs just sliced badly out of bounds, into your living room and through your plasma TV screen.

"Any good strategy involves all of the stakeholders buying in," said sports-marketing expert Paul Swangard of the University of Oregon. "Does one infer by his absence that not everybody bought into the idea?"

Seems that way, professor, though Woods indicated he sees value in the ballyhooed new plan and hopes to win the $10 million annuity awarded to the winner, the biggest bonus in pro sports.

And...

Because he's been seeded No. 1 in FedEx points, the first prize remains statistically within his reach, which upon closer examination, is a systemic flaw worth fixing going forward. The tour has been pimping the FedEx Cup for months, to the point where even the true-believers have been rolling their eyes at the overkill. Earlier this month, for example, tour official and cup architect Ric Clarson likened it to the precursor to the biggest sports event of the year.

"I wonder if the members of the Green Bay Packers, when they won the very first Super Bowl in 1967, which wasn't even called the Super Bowl then, realized their place in history," he said. "Thus, we embark on a new era in golf called the FedEx Cup."

More like the FraudEx Cup now that Woods has disembarked. Did Bart Starr skip the first AFC-NFC Championship Game? 

Elling also looks at Tiger's tendency, well, regular habit of entering tournaments at the last second and the ramifications for the PGA Tour and reminds us that Tiger skipped the Nissan Open in part to film FedEx Cup promotional spots. What a high point for all involved.

Saturday
Aug182007

"Yes, I acknowledge that the ability to compress the ball makes a difference in pitching, but the girls should, you would imagine, make up for that with good touch. But they don't."

John Huggan tries to get to the bottom of one of the modern game's great mysteries: why so many of the best female golfers in the world have such lousy short games.
Friday
Aug172007

Rules Of The Game Photo Caption Fun

This accompanies GolfDigest.com's plug for their Saturday rules show done in conjunction with CBS's Bill Macatee and Bobby Clampett. But the photo does not tell us what Macatee is saying...

cbsrules470.jpg

Friday
Aug172007

"But the truth is, I'm just not ready."

Tiger's official explanation for passing up the Barclay's:
I have decided not to play in The Barclays Classic next week at Westchester Country Club. As I have said all along, my intention was to compete in all four PGA Tour Playoff events, including the inaugural Barclays Classic. But the truth is, I'm just not ready.

Playing the last two weeks in the heat and humidity were mentally and physically draining. Although I managed to pull out victories in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship, my body is spent and I need a short break. Major championships are grueling experiences and usually necessitate recovery time.

Ever since turning professional in 1996, my goal has always been the same: To win every event I enter. I've done pretty well, winning 59 times on the PGA Tour. If I don't feel that way prior to a tournament, I won't commit.

This is in no way a knock on Barclays, their new event next week or the new FedEx Cup series, which I fully support. I just hope that this extra week of rest will rejuvenate me for the final three Playoff events and Presidents Cup. It is still my goal to win the FedExCup and I am hopeful this will give me the best opportunity to finish the year strong.

Tiger
Thursday
Aug162007

"Cool Stat Of The Week"

In looking over Brett Avery's Golf World PGA Championship stat package, I loved the "Cool Stat":

Of the field Tiger Woods defeated to win his 13th major championship, 80 players went into the PGA Championship having competed in fewer than 13 majors. Only 50 players at Southern Hills had made the cut in at least 13 majors. And of those, only eight had placed in the top 10 at least 13 times.

If nothing else, check out the stats to see the side-by-side shots of Tiger circa 1998 and Tiger today.  

Thursday
Aug162007

Stack and Tilt Part 2

insl01_stacktilt.jpgHaving toyed with the Stack and Tilt concept a bit more on the range, and having had the privilege of working with Mac O'Grady back when he was still mad at Deane Beman, I now regret my initial remark that this is Mac Made Easy. Several elements are quite different from Mac's teachings, particularly the takeway (was that P2 or P3!?) and some of their thoughts on the role of the right leg. 

Anyway I haven't been able to follow the little community within a community that has developed on the original post here, which is up to 327 comments.

The latest Golf Digest installment's best component is the input from other jealous instructors trying to debunk the potential of Stack and Tilt.

Thursday
Aug162007

Silver Lining In Woods Playoff Pass?

The news that Tiger is skipping the Barclay's may not be all bad, as Jeff Rude notes somewhat intentionally.

Should Woods skip the first playoff event at Westchester (N.Y.) Country Club, it wouldn’t give the initial B-12 shot the Tour’s pet project was looking for and needed. After all, the Tour has used more than $40 million worth of advertising inventory this year to trumpet the new Cup series.

Good news for Woods and the Tour is this: He can still win the FedEx Cup if he misses Week 1. He’ll be the points leader at 100,000 after the reset on Sunday night. Based on Tour computer models, he’ll need to get to about 112,000 to win the Cup. That means he’d probably win the Cup with a victory, a fifth and a 10th in the playoffs. If he skips the opener, he’d just have three weeks to get those points instead of four.

That shouldn’t be too much of a hurdle for him considering the way he’s playing and the fact he has played well at the final three playoff courses. He won last year at the TPC Boston, site of the Week 2 Deutsche Bank Championship; he has won three times at Cog Hill, the BMW Championship venue in Week 3; and he has three seconds at East Lake in Atlanta, site of the Tour Championship grand finale.

Should Woods win the Deutsche Bank and BMW, he would be all but a mathematical lock to win the Cup. And the Tour Championship would become, to the Tour’s dismay, anticlimax.

So see, not playing Westchester is just one less Cup clinching win that would mess up this otherwise wonderfully concocted idea! 

Thursday
Aug162007

Tiger's "Intent" Is To Spend Barclay's Classic Week Studying FedEx Cup Points Permutations...From Home?

Sam Weinman reports that it looks like Tiger Woods is going to pass on the first round of the playoffs. Oh how the Yankees would love to do that!

Thursday
Aug162007

Colt Knost Contemplates Becoming The Next Tom Scherrer

Ron Kroichick reports on the uh, dilemma that the current U.S. Amateur Public Links champion faces...

Knost, unlike so many ambitious young golfers, already has qualified for next year's Masters. He can drive down Magnolia Lane, stay in the Crow's Nest, stroll alongside the azaleas, walk across Hogan Bridge and try to keep his ball out of Rae's Creek.

And he's not sure he will.

Knost, 22, recently completed a standout college career at SMU. He's coming to San Francisco next week for the U.S. Amateur, which begins Monday at the Olympic Club, and soon thereafter, he will travel to Ireland to represent his country in the Walker Cup.

All the while, lingering in the back of Knost's mind - and sometimes in the front - will be Augusta National. He won the U.S. Amateur Public Links last month outside Chicago, landing him a berth in next year's Masters. His name is right there on the tournament's Web site listing 2008 invitees, wedged between Jerry Kelly and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer.

Here's the caveat: The Public Links champion must remain an amateur to keep his spot in the Masters. All along, Knost planned to turn pro after the Walker Cup in September and pursue his PGA Tour card at qualifying school.

"Everyone who plays golf dreams of playing in the Masters, and now I have a chance," Knost said in a telephone interview. "And playing in the Masters as an amateur would be such a different experience - they treat amateurs extremely well.

"It definitely would be difficult to pass that up. You never know what could happen. I could never make it there again."

History tells Knost few players turn down a Masters invitation - Tom Scherrer, the 1992 U.S. Amateur runner-up, was the last to decline. Scherrer didn't make it to Augusta National until 2001 and he hasn't been back since then (Scherrer now plays on the Nationwide Tour).

Knost recently talked to Phil Mickelson, who praised his talents, encouraged him to turn pro and predicted Knost will qualify for the Masters several times in the future. But therein lies the risk: What if he doesn't make it back? What if his career sputters and skipping the '08 Masters becomes a lifelong regret?

Well, he'd really, really hate Phil Mickelson for starters.

Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci bluntly told Knost he would be crazy to pass on a whirl around Amen Corner.

I think so too. You all?
 

Wednesday
Aug152007

Tiger Finishes Majors -1

Steve Elling takes his annual look at the players who made all four major cuts and breaks down the numbers.

 For the second time in four years, Woods is the major-championship major domo, unseating Phil Mickelson, who won the honor in 2004 and 2006. Woods was the low man at the Slam events in 2005, but missed the cut at the U.S. Open in '06, his lone weekend off at a major in his 11-year pro career.

There were several statistical oddities this year.

Of the 10 players who made all four majors cuts in 2006, none did likewise this year. In fact, in an eye-popping turnaround of the wrong sort, Australia's Robert Allenby finished seventh among the players who completed all 16 rounds at the '06 majors at a collective 3 over. This year? He shot the highest score of any player who appeared in all four, missing the cut across the board and finishing a collective 45 over in eight rounds.

 Because of difficult conditions at 2007's first two majors -- this year marked the third time in history that winning scores were above par at both the Masters and U.S. Open -- the cumulative numbers skewed inordinately high. Since we began tracking the cumulative Grand Slam winners four years ago, 2007 stands as the first time fewer than 10 players made the cut in all four events.

Check out the story for the list of the elite 10. 

Wednesday
Aug152007

Tilly Illustrated

tilly-illustration.jpgThe Tillinghast Society has launched a new online (PDF) journal devoted to all things Tilly.

Wednesday
Aug152007

WynDham Championship

What do you think? Nice rebranding eh?

First Davis Love, now Boo, Bubba, K.J. and Chris DiMarco WD to rest up for four weeks (if they should be so lucky) of studying points permutations and figuring out how to pay their caddy 10% of deferred compensation.  Joedy McCreary reports.


Wednesday
Aug152007

"Suddenly, he was Steve Martin giving a call to arms in 'Three Amigos:'"

Add Grant Boone to the list of those not quite grasping Woody Austin's various rants from last week's PGA press center:

And Austin is accurate when he suggests that he and lots of his peers have a similar desire to succeed, even if they can't back it up on the course as often as Woods.

Austin backed it up all week. He was the only player to shoot par or better each day. And despite beginning the final round four back of Woods, he actually had a birdie putt at 15 that would've pulled him even. It was only after a hard-fought 67 left him two shots short that Austin finally began to crack. First, he interrupted a reporter's observation that he'd been hard on himself earlier in the week because of missed opportunities:

"I was right, wasn't I?"

Whoa, big fella. After the reporter finished his question, Austin responded specifically to shooting a 70 in the second round to Woods' 63:

"Well, like I said on Friday, you cannot give somebody seven shots, especially someone who happens to be the best player in the world. And I, like I said, I went over his round and over my round, and I outplayed him from tee-to-green."

It was right here that you were telepathically giving Austin the same advice Brian Fantana gave Champ. "Why don't you stop talking for awhile? Maybe sit the next couple of plays out." But Austin kept going:

"I don't think anybody plays any better than I do when I'm on; I know that's crazy, but I think I can hit any shot anybody in the world can hit."

I was with him right up to the point that he talked about being crazy. Woody wasn't done:

"You give anybody who is really good a four-shot lead over you -- I beat him today, but it doesn't matter because he had four shots on me. So, you know, I don't care -- he happens to be the best player in the world, but if you put any great player, any good player with a four-shot cushion, their odds are going to be pretty good. Especially when they happen to be the best."

Suddenly, he was Steve Martin giving a call to arms in "Three Amigos:" "The people of Santo Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be the actual El Guapo." And then came a little Yogi Berra from the AFLAC commercial:

"He always says -- what does he always say? He always says, 'I want to be in the last group on Sunday.' If he wants to be there, and I want to be, why do I not want to be there? Why would I want to be somewhere else?"

Beats me. And finally, like a punch-drunk fighter swinging wildly before the inevitable face plant into the canvas, Austin offered this:

"Well, you said in the media, especially on Friday, that he played just an unbelievable round of golf and that he was in total control and that he was just toying with the field. We can go through our rounds. I outplayed him on Friday, but he beat me by seven shots. So, does that mean he's that much better? I don't get it. It just happens that he scored better, and like I said on Friday, can you not throw away that many opportunities when you are trying to win a big golf tournament. He took advantage; I didn't. Does that mean he played better than me or he's better than me? I don't agree with that."

 

Wednesday
Aug152007

Is This Why Architects Should Not Be On Course Ranking Panels?

In this week's SI Golf Plus, a stand alone FedEx Cup playoff preview (not posted online), Michael Bamberger profiles architect Tom Doak's rise to prominence. For synergy purposes, included with the piece is a Doak assessments of each FedEx Cup playoff venue, including the TPC Boston, recently renovated by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon.

Here's what Doak says:

I've never been there, and I'm not in a good place to judge it. It's an Arnold Palmer course, and his stuff is all over the map. Gil Hanse, who used to work for me, did the renovation work there. It's a weird relationship--I admire what he's doing, but I'm not going to be his biggest booster. I have to compete with him.

Of course Tom is welcome to feel whatever he likes and you have to admire his honesty, however, he seems to be implying that he doesn't want to say anything positive about a potential competitor.

And in light of the recent release of the Golf Magazine Top 100, I'm uncomfortable with the notion of Tom, one of 100 Golf panelists, evaluating Gil's work when he's openly stating that he does not want to promote his competition. Wouldn't this make him less likely to fairly evaluate the work of Hanse or anyone else he considers competition?

This seems to me to be example A for why architects in today's cuthroat business should not be allowed to vote on course ranking panels.

Wednesday
Aug152007

Picking Favorites and Riviera's 10th**

asset_upload_file444_2705.jpgTom Cunneff picks his nine favorite holes in golf. The piece also includes a link to Tom Doak's dicussion of Riviera's 10th, which I don't believe appeared online earlier this year. It's worth reading, and I say that not because I was included. Just a good read.

Golf.com also includes their 18 favorites with many killer photos. It was done in conjunction with the new Golf Magazine ranking. Lo and behold, Riviera's 10th made their list as the penultimate hole. Unfortunately they ran a photo of Riviera's 9th green in its place. 

**With working links now... 

Wednesday
Aug152007

"We could have one incredible event center on the 17th hole. Nobody has been looking at that."

Thanks to reader NRH for this C.W. Nevius column in the San Francisco Chronicle analyzing the fight for Lincoln Park and other San Francisco city courses.

Bo Links, one of the founders of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, says golfers are planning a march on the Board of Supervisors today. The issue is whether the city should study turning its money-losing golf courses into another kind of recreation facility, like soccer fields, or preserve the fairways and greens.

Guess which side the golfers are on.

"We're going to hitch up our britches and go to City Hall," Links says. "We're hoping to have over 100. And some of the guys are talking about bringing golf clubs."

This, of course, raises two questions:

First, what would you use to get up and down from the steps of City Hall? A lob wedge?

And second, in the midst of so many high-profile and contentious issues, how did the city's golf courses get to be such a hot topic?

That part is simple - the golf course debate has something for everyone.

For neighborhood activists, it is about empowerment. For golfers, it is populism. For Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, it's a labor issue. And fellow Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is talking about governmental red tape. McGoldrick is leery of letting a private firm manage the courses; Elsbernd thinks it could not only work, but make money.

Last Wednesday, the supervisors' Budget and Finance Committee met to consider McGoldrick's proposal to create a golf task force to conduct a three-year study of the "adaptive re-use" of the golf courses.

To the surprise of nearly everyone, the golfers showed up in force, some 50 strong. Richard Harris, another of the founders of the Golf Alliance, says the group made its point forcefully.

"You need professional management for the golf courses," he says. "What you don't need is another three-year study. That's asking to literally study it to death until the golf courses deteriorate so badly it isn't an issue."

"Even I was surprised," said Elsbernd. "What I really appreciated was watching the faces of those who thought this was going to be a walk in the park, so to speak."

In the face of that kind of response, it was decided not to send the proposal out of committee with a recommendation for a yes vote. And Monday, McGoldrick announced that he plans to make a motion to put the matter over until at least next month, meaning that it won't be voted on in today's meeting.

"Which has to be a victory on our part," says Elsbernd.

The golfers may have been slow to act, but they have been fired up by talk that some of the city's courses, like the neglected, but scenic, Lincoln Park, might be turned into a soccer field.

"Or BMX bike runs," says Isabel Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council. "Or skate parks. We could have one incredible event center on the 17th hole. Nobody has been looking at that."
Oh dear. This is beautiful:
We'll pause here for a moment while the residents of those huge, expensive homes in Sea Cliff consider the implications of an event center around the corner from them. And that's not to mention the fact that any soccer pitch built on the hills and mounds of Lincoln Park would require players to use safety ropes to keep from sliding off the field.

 

Tuesday
Aug142007

"Even an idiot can't mess this up"

bildeTiger announced and new design in North Carolina Tuesday, and while I haven't seen many detailed articles, reader did find this video clip of the press conference where he refers to what "Perry" did at Southern Hills (so much for Mr. Maxwell!) and of course a proverbial it's "right in front of you" comment.

Pete Iacobelli writes:
Woods wants the scenic land to dictate the proposed layout and hopes the course give golfers a fair test and a chance to connect with nature. He visited the location earlier Tuesday and raved about the land.

"Even an idiot can't mess this up," he said. "I think I'm a little above that."

Woods took his time before launching his design business, he said, because he wanted a feel for what makes the best courses by playing the top layouts from around the world.

He said he likes layouts where golfers can the hole ahead of them along with well-placed bunkers that require careful shot selection.

Woods described himself as a "minimalist" designer and repeatedly said he didn't expect to move a lot of dirt during construction.

Woods and The Cliffs' owner Jim Anthony said they wanted High Carolina to be a walking-only course during the news conference. Afterward, Woods clarified they'll "strongly encourage" golfers to walk, but won't require it.

Anthony had Woods' drawings of a proposed golf course he mapped out at age 11. "I don't believe there's any golfer that has more desire," Anthony said. "He takes us to another level."

Woods' company took on a project in Dubai for his first course. He expects to gradually grow his golf design business, selecting projects that fit within his crowded schedule as a competitor and father.
Tuesday
Aug142007

"I'd be mightily disappointed if both were not Open sites by 2020 or 2021."

maar01_tarde.jpgJerry Tarde devotes his September editor's letter to previewing the Erin Hills v. Chambers Bay spread and shares this:

Erin Hills is featured in this issue along with Chambers Bay as two spectacular, new public courses that are being considered as U.S. Open venues (see "Erin Hills vs. Chambers Bay"). Says one highly placed USGA insider: "I'd be mightily disappointed if both were not Open sites by 2020 or 2021."

Well, good to know where the Executive Director stands! 

Tuesday
Aug142007

"He's comfortable with his game again"

Jaime Diaz not only shares several of Tiger's technical adjustments that led to his wins at Firestone and Southern Hills, but also looks at the possibility of an Ernie Els resurgence, offering this from his agent:

"I think Ernie is really back to his old self," said his agent, Chubby Chandler. "He's much more relaxed, and he's comfortable with his game again. He's settling back when he's out to dinner, having a glass of wine, laughing and getting back to who he really is. And he's not got Tiger on his mind. He's getting a bit more chilled out. He's not getting in his own way."

 

 

Tuesday
Aug142007

Fields On Woody

I prefer to read Bill Fields's lengthy essays in print, but I couldn't help sneaking a peak at his Southern Hills piece and mercifully, he called Woody Austin on some of the more bizzarre assertions from his press conferences.

Austin reiterated the notion of a double standard regarding Woods when it comes to more mundane slams of club to turf. "That's his 'competitive fire,' is what it's called," Austin said. "He's 'competitive,' he is 'aggressive.' I do that, I am a 'loose cannon.' I 'can't control' myself. I'm not competitive? It's like I'm not good enough to get mad. He's good enough to get angry all the time? Why can he get mad more than me, but it's competitive fire as opposed to somebody who is too hard on themselves? I don't get it."

The topic of Woods crept into much of what Austin had to say last week, but parts of his critique made more sense than others. Austin insisted repeatedly, for instance, that he had outplayed Woods in the second round even though the world No. 1 shot a 63 to his 70. "I watched [his round on TV]," Austin said, "and I had it inside him all day long. I outplayed him by at least four or five shots, and he beat me by seven."

That is a cockeyed view because golf is not only a gauge of ball-striking skills but also of how capably good shots can be converted into birdies. Austin must know that, but his view is jaundiced by his history as an above-average player until he gets a putter in his hand. "I'm a very nervous person, I have a lot of nervous energy, and it shows [when I putt]," Austin admitted. "It's very hard to make a putting stroke when you're real nervous; it's a lot easier to make a golf swing when you're real nervous as opposed to putting."