A Tiger Woods book worth reading
The hard part was convincing his agent and a publisher that a book on the late father of Tiger Woods was worth writing.
“Nobody wanted me to do this book,” Callahan said. “They figured, ‘Who cares about Earl Woods?”’
Of all the books involving the world’s No. 1 player, this might be the most compelling.
“His Father’s Son,” published by Gotham Books, is scheduled to go on sale Oct. 28. Golf Digest, for whom Callahan is a contributing editor, plans to publish excerpts in its November issue.
Callahan devotes the first half of the book to Earl Woods – his Kansas roots, the prejudice he faced as the only black baseball player at Kansas State; his military career; his first marriage, which produced three children; meeting his second wife in Thailand.
The second half is about Tiger Woods.
At times, the lines are blurred.
Callahan portrays Earl Woods as a womanizer, minus the names or the details. In one chapter, he writes about Tiger being furious with his father toward the end of his life. Earl implied that Tiger had to buy him out of what Callahan described only as “some kind of sexual jackpot.” It was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who served as peacemaker, urging her son to forgive his father.
Callahan was well into writing the book on Nov. 27, when Woods ran over a fire hydrant outside his Florida home, and soon after lurid details of his sexual escapades began gushing out in the media.
“The funny thing is, it didn’t change the book that much,” Callahan said. “The original outline was 40 chapters. I ended up with 31. Nine that were lost were melted into other chapters in the first half. I waited half a book to get to Tiger. I didn’t want people to be impatient.”
His publisher asked if Callahan was going to contact some of the women linked to Tiger.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t care about them,”’ he said. “Leave that to the floozy books.”
This book was always about the intricate relationship between a father, who didn’t touch a golf club until he was 42, and a son, who has dominated golf at every level.
Callahan was fond of Earl Woods. The intention was not to bash either father or son, although he doesn’t duck any of the dirt.
He writes of the father’s philandering, “Any woman who ventured within fifty feet of Earl was a potential plaintiff.” And of the son’s extramarital affairs, “Golf never needed a shower more than it did after Tiger Woods careened off a fire hydrant into a tree, shaking loose a multitude of cocktail waitresses, lingerie models and porn actresses, none of whom accused him of gentleness.”
Callahan’s research includes interviews with Earl Woods’ sisters, neighbors from his childhood home on Yuma Street in Manhattan, Kan., his first wife and their three children.
His greatest resource, however, was Earl.
In his book, “In Search of Tiger,” Callahan details his trip to Vietnam to find the soldier after whom Earl named his son – Col. Nguyen “Tiger” Phong, who died in April 1976. After learning of his fate, Callahan arranged a tearful meeting with the Phong and Woods families.
He knew the father so well that Callahan often went to the house where Earl stayed at majors to watch Tiger on television. In one scene, Callahan describes how Earl would doze off between shots, but eerily woke up when his son was on TV, sometimes offering instruction. He later claimed Tiger could hear him when he played.
“Come on, Earl. Stop it,” Callahan tells him.
Earl laughed for about 20 seconds and said, “You don’t mind if I believe it, do you?”
“He told a lot of stories,” Callahan said. “All of them weren’t true. They weren’t total lies, they were just a little untrue. The only thing he didn’t exaggerate about was Vietnam.”
Callahan talked to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, but the most intriguing interview was with Ernie Els, who spoke fondly about the time Tiger sought his advice on turning pro, and was bluntly honest about the future.
The interview took place Wednesday of the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, which Els won for his second straight victory. That was about the time Woods announced he would be returning to golf at the Masters.
Els predicted a good week at Augusta National for Woods, but not a green jacket.
“I think he’ll contend,” Els said that day. “I think so. He’s that good. But win it? No. There’s a guilt. There’s a conscience.
“I still say you can’t play your best golf without self-respect,” Els said. “Obviously, Elin married the person she believed he was. If he sincerely wants to become that person, good on him. I’ll support him. Absolutely. That’s what I’ve done my whole career, supported him. But, to be honest, I wonder where he’s going to put his energy now? Into fitness? … Tiger’s going to be a very lonely guy, I think, unfortunately.”
Callahan also includes several recollections from Royce Woods, the daughter from Earl’s first marriage. Woods made good on a promise as a kid and bought her a house in northern California. She lived with her dad when Tiger was young, and cared for Earl in his final days.
“I asked him once,” Royce said in the book, “‘Don’t you ever want to do a little dirt, Tiger? Be a little bad? Spray graffiti paint all over a wall at school, or something?’ ‘You know, I probably would,’ he told me, ‘if I didn’t know I was going to be famous someday.”’
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.
Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.
I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.
One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.
So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?
You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?
Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?
I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.
This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.
Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.
The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:
“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”
Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.
Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.
Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.