Saturday, 4 February 2017

There's Golf and There's Competitive Golf

As Bobby Jones pointed out, there's golf and then there's competitive golf. And they are a very different sort of animal. 

For those of us who play recreational golf and don't play for championships, or our livelihoods, golf can be fun, humbling, difficult, annoying, or enthralling. But we'll never know the feeling of playing golf with a Major championship on the line. 

We can pretend as much as we want that we need a par, or to make a six footer, to win the Masters or the Open. But unless we've actually been there, we'll never comprehend why the guys look so drained at the end of eighteen championship holes of golf. Bobby Jones used to lose as much as fifteen pounds in a week of championship play--even when he didn't really have fifteen pounds to spare. He would be mentally and physically exhausted.

This is what Tiger is now experiencing. After a forced hiatus from competition, Tiger is realizing that all the gym work, and all the practising just doesn't have him ready and able to compete with the guys who haven't been on the sidelines for fifteen months. 

Okay, Tiger isn't the same cat. He's suffered some injuries. But he still looks awfully good physically. And he can still move it out there long enough to compete. He's still apparently striping it on the range. The question would seem to be not whether Tiger's back can hold up for a week of championship golf, but rather whether he has enough of that fire in his belly, that same self-belief, and that same ability to somehow keep struggling to grind out a score that he had during his great run of fourteen Majors. 

Majors, as Curtis Strange once said, referring to the US Open, are won on guts and pars. Tiger was once a guy who could seemingly save par from anywhere. Not so these days. Let's hope Tiger can keep playing and somehow find a way to get himself in contention again. Only when he's in the hunt will he find out whether he still has what it takes. But first, he needs to make a cut.