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.