Posts tagged ‘Sports Illustrated Golf’

June 15, 2011

Van Sickle and Haney Miss Tiger Too Much

I knocked Rick Reilly yesterday for his single-minded view towards golf and Tiger, but it looks like Gary Van Sickle is following suit today.  Van Sickle published an article on golf.com where he sat down with Hank Haney to discuss the U.S. Open and Tiger’s practice habits.  Sounds interesting right?  Well Mr. Van Sickle made it through all of two questions about the upcoming U.S. Open before diving into the Tiger discussion.

Is Tiger not playing in the U.S. Open really a bigger story than the U.S. Open itself.  Take a second and think about that.  The U.S. Open is our national championship.  It is one of the most historic golf tournaments of all time.  Has it really taken a back seat because one player is not in the field?  How is this possible?

In his first two responses Haney says:

…you can make a case that anyone inside the top 75 has a chance to win the Open…When I was helping Tiger for six years and we went to the majors, we really thought there were 10 or 12 players who had a good shot. Now it’s 75 players who have a good shot. The number is huge and that’s a big difference for golf.” – Hank Haney

This is exactly what I have been trying to say all along.  Every week there is a feeling that anyone can win any golf tournament.  People need to snap out of their Tiger-phobia phase and understand that the parity in golf is incredible right now.  Has no one noticed that the European’s are kicking the American’s butts in world rankings?  How about that for a story?  Who in American golf will step up and defend our nation’s national championship?  The answer is not Tiger Woods.  I hate to break it to you, but he is not in the field and hasn’t played very well in over a year (minus the Masters).

The problem with Haney’s comment above is how he follow it up.  He goes on to say:

Well, it’s nice to develop other players and other names. If you’re not going to have a dominant player, the next best thing is having more stars, if you will, and more recognizable names. In the long run, sports with a dominant superstar or two who can compete against each other usually flourish the most. We may get there but right now, we’re in a place where we’re waiting to see who they’re going to be.” – Hank Haney

Hold on for a second.  Doesn’t this guy teach golf for a living?  Doesn’t he have multiple golf academy’s around the world?  Doesn’t he have his name on every teaching aid known to man?  This is supposed to be an ambassador for the game, someone who has spent his life teaching people that they can play the game and excel in the game of golf.  Now he is saying that it is nice to develop new names but the sport is better off when only a few players are dominating it?  I feel like I am taking crazy pills reading this stuff.

How about this for a response Hank, “I think the growth of the game in Tiger’s absence is amazing for the young talent emerging in the game of golf.  Obviously we all miss Tiger playing the great golf that we are used to seeing him play, but right now is an exciting time for the game.  Every week we have the opportunity to watch a new potential star emerge with a landmark win.”  I am not an expert of the golf swing, but even I know that is a much better response than what he said.

It makes me sick hearing everyone throw in the towel on golf because Tiger is hurt.  It isn’t the reality of the situation and I feel like a lot of genuine fans have been marred by their experiences growing up with Tiger.  Times change and maybe it is time for a few perspectives to change as well.

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June 14, 2011

Is Rick Reilly Only a Tiger Fan?

Rick Reilly posted a video on Sports Illustrated yesterday that discussed how the throne in golf is wide open for the taking at the moment.  He ran through all of the viable contenders that could theoretically take up the throne that Tiger has vacated.  Guess what his conclusion was?  You guessed it, the only person able to take the throne back is Tiger himself.

Golf has never had someone dominate it the way Tiger has and no one can knows if we will see a dominating force like him again.  The same thing can be said for the NBA and Michael Jordan.  When Jordan left the NBA the throne was wide open and guess what?  No one took the throne the way Jordan did.  Yes, great players have come along like Kobe and company, but none are quite Jordan.  This is the same thing that is going on with Tiger.  If Tiger walked away from golf tomorrow the game would not crumble like some have suggested.  It would simply mean the end of an era.  Just like the Jordan Era ended the Tiger Era would come to a close.  Just like the Hogan Era, Palmer/Nicklaus Era and so on.

No one wants to see that happen, but Reilly quickly discounts the promise and ability of a lot of quality golfers.  I understand that Reilly is making a bold statement that the only person that can be the next Tiger is Tiger, but that is a very narrow view of the game of golf.  He is basically saying that everyone who has accomplished anything on the PGA Tour this year isn’t that great because they aren’t dominating like Tiger dominated.  How were golfers measured before we knew what Tiger dominance looked like?  Don’t you think it looked a little bit different?  We, as viewers and fans, might need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we view success in golf in the new post Tiger Era.

I for one have enjoyed the revolving door of winners this season on the PGA Tour.  It reminds me that golf is a sport that gives hundreds of players a chance to win every weekend.  Not many other sports can say that.  It also makes me tune in to see who is going to step up on any given weekend.  I won’t deny that Tiger brings something special to a weekend, especially when he is in contention.  On the flip side, Tiger is not the end all be all of golf and I don’t understand why people like Rick Reilly don’t embrace the changing of the guard more.  He is a fan of the game, yet he sounds like the world of golf was boring before Tiger got here and will be boring after he leaves.  Tiger is amazing and what he did we may never see again, but a true fan of golf would still appreciate the accomplishments of those out on the Tour winning right now.

I am a fan of Golf not just a fan of Golf with Tiger.  I think many people need to make that distinction for themselves as well.

If you want to watch Reilly’s video you can check it out here.  Golf’s Empty Throne