Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiger Woods Is Too Good

As soon as that ball left his putter yesterday evening, there was no doubt Tiger was going to hole that near-sixteen footer on the 18th to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Never. A. Doubt.

The guy's just too good. This is his first win since June of last year, when he hobbled his way around Torrey Pines on a BROKEN LEG to earn his third U.S. Open title in an 18-hole playoff and thus claim his 14th major victory overall. All he needs now is four more majors and he'll match Nicklaus's record, one which many people believed was unbreakable.

In the middle of the round yesterday, the broadcast flashed an incredible stat: he'd made every single putt that was six feet or less from the cup.

If you're not a golfer, you might be thinking that's easy. But let me assure you it is not. That is quite a feat, considering how quick and tricky these greens are in PGA tournament golf. It takes a lot of skill, a deft touch, and good solid technique.

But what it takes most of all is mental toughness.

You have to have guts to consistently hole putts like that. Physically-speaking, Woods might be the most impressive golfer the world has ever seen. But when it comes to his his mental game, he's tougher than Nicklaus and rivals even Hogan.

19 comments:

Phil Stiefel said...

You stole my post for the day... I would also have to say mentally and physically he is the best ever, but what about how he makes every person playing with him that much worse. Yes worse.. poor Sean OHair had no chance yesterday and probably shanked and flubbed and pulled more shots pushed more putts than he has in a long time. Sean is one of the up and comers who has a great game and will win a major probably one day if not two or three. Tigers presence was just too much for him. I enjoyed watching that round a great deal and I really want to go play some golf this week now.

Phil Stiefel said...

P.S. Tiger will win the Masters and U.S. Open this year. The stat that his arch nemisis is only .1 behind him in the rankings is irking him and he will blow Lefty out of the water at the first two majors to distance himself again in the rankings

Brian O'Rourke said...

Philly,

You're absolutely right about the "Tiger effect." I think it was Jonny Miller yesterday who said that if Tiger hadn't been playing in the final group, Sean O'Hair would have won the tournament easily.

Brian O'Rourke said...

As for the first two majors of the year, I don't know. Even though it's Tiger we're talking about, that still is a tall order.

And despite the fact he's struggled a tad recently, Paddy Harrington shouldn't be discounted. the guy has won, what, 3 of the last 6 majors?

Phil Stiefel said...

I know its alot to ask but what I really mean is that he will have one hell of a year this year and definately not be loosing that number one world ranking. Also Paddy has won the last two majors yes, but hasnt Tiger won like 11 of the last 16 tournies he has been in (I think in the middle of the round yesterday they said 10 out of 15)

Brian O'Rourke said...

Phil,

Yeah, I hear you. I think Leftie might actually be more talented than Tiger (sacrilege, I know), but he just doesn't seem to have Tiger's mental game. Tiger figures out a way to win when he isn't playing his best. Leftie figures out a way to lose when he IS playing his best.

I don't see Tiger losing his spot in the rankings either.

Nathanael Green said...

Wait a second ... you think he's as tough as Hulk Hogan?

Or Paul Hogan?

Brian O'Rourke said...

Nate,
I don't know about his being as tough as the Hulkster, but definitely tough enough to be one of Hogan's Heroes.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Phil,
We need to tee it up soon.

Vincetastic said...

Nice post Brian, Tiger is back! I was at the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach Tournament, so I knew that Tiger had come back from 5 strokes behind before, but I did not expect him to do what he did on Sunday. I think people might enjoy this list, since Tiger and Arnold Palmer are both on it. I'm not sure if Byron Nelson’s record of 18 single season wins will ever be broken.

The Top Ten Most PGA Tour Wins in a Single Season Since 1916
http://www.toptentopten.com/topten/most+pga+tour+wins+in+a+single+season+since+191

Brian O'Rourke said...

Vincetastic -

Posterity will probably prove me wrong, but I agree--I don't think Nelson's record of 18 wins in a single season will ever be matched again. What's the closest anyone else has come? Was it Vijay with 11 a few years ago?

Love the Top Ten site you linked to. I don't disagree with the Top Ten Nintendo Games, although I do disagree with the rankings. IMHO, Legend of Zelda is a better game than Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. But I love them both. I can still key in 007-373-5963 faster than anybody else I know. Yeah, I was that much of a dork.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Ah, of course. How could I have forgotten Hogan's season in 1946?

seanag said...

How could Hogan have had a season in 1946? The war ended in 1945. And the TV series hadn't even begun.

I'm kidding. As I've said before, I have nothing to contribute on golf. And you did open the Hogan's Heroes door yourself.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

As always, very well played. My hat's off to you.

Are you still in New Orleans? Hope all is well.

seanag said...

Well played? I almost feel like a golfer.

Yep, still in New Orleans for a couple more days, but at least we've finally tranferred from the hospital to the hotel, and since it's right on the French Quarter, that makes easy wandering for me. I've already found three bookstores, and of course, made purchases. A couple of anthologies of New Orleans writers and a walking tour of the Quarter. My sister is just wanting to get home, of course, but I am managing to eke a little fun out of the experience, now that she is out of the woods.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

Glad to hear your sister is out of the woods. Have fun in those bookstores. I never met one I didn't like.

seanag said...

Thanks, Brian.

adrian mckinty said...

Tougher than Nicklaus, come on man, sometimes you go too far. I dont see anyone that really challenges Woods in the way that Nicklaus was challenged by quality opposition. TW is a very good golfer whose power sets up the rest of his game, but mental toughness means more than just coming from an injury. Mental toughness means overcoming the yips or being psyched out and crushed by opponents that you secretly suspect are better than you. On TW's worst day doesn't every still agree that he's the best golfer in the world? We'll see how strong he is five years from now when the whispering campaign begins and headlines start appearing that "Tiger Woods is Past His Peak". Is TW a Jack Nicklaus or to jump ball games a Pete Sampras? Time will tell but its too early now.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian,

3. Generate Fake Controversy

Just trying to generate some sales, man.

But seriously, I do think Tiger is better than Nicklaus. There's been one, and I think two, whispering campaigns already in his short career. Remember that "slump" he had in 2003 and 2004? Or the two major swing overhauls he's gone through? He always comes back and wins.

There's also a chicken-and-egg problem here. You say the competition today is weaker, relatively speaking, than it was in Nicklaus's day. I say that's because Tiger's so mentally tough, not because golfers aren't as good as him. Lefty is arguably more talented, Ernie's got a better swing, and many have better putting stats than him. The guy is so good because he figures out a way to win.

Greatest ever? No, I'm not ready to say that. But he's getting close. And he's just now 33 years old, which is when most pros end up playing their best golf.