Woods and Wie: Is love what they're missing?

By John HawkinsFebruary 28, 2012, 6:08 pm

More than perhaps any current or former tour pro I’ve known over the years, Brandel Chamblee is a thinker, a man of introspect and observational intellect. Now that he’s a Golf Channel analyst, your opinion of his opinions is none of my business, nor do I care for it to be, but as a colleague of Chamblee, I consider his voice a refreshing departure from many of those who once played the game for a living.

Something Chamblee said after Tiger Woods’ second-round loss at Dove Mountain has stuck to me like a tribe of cactus thorns: “There’s a difference between doing something for the joy of it and doing it to prove yourself right.” If it was nothing more than a snapshot assessment of Woods’ current string of woes, Chamblee’s take on the New Tiger was profound – more than heavy enough to spur my own thoughts as to whether loving the game is requisite to playing it at the highest level.

I certainly would believe so, although I have never fired a final-round 63 or cashed a winner’s check large enough to purchase a six-bedroom house. What I do know is, the Guy Who Never Missed a Putt He Had To Make pushed a 5-footer on the 18th green to lose to Nick Watney, and a day later, Michelle Wie shot 81 in the second round of the LPGA gathering in Singapore.

Wie would finish the week 22 over par, 32 strokes out of a four-woman playoff. For those who don’t see the connection, I see two of the world’s most famous golfers – one of them historically successful, the other a monumental underachiever – struggling not so much with expectations, but a sense that the relentless burden has surpassed their desire.

That isn’t to say the battle can’t be reversed, although I am far more inclined to believe Woods will find his way back to greatness before Wie discovers her competitive inner fire. Having met the young lady in Honolulu a couple of months after her 13th birthday, one thing clear from the outset was that she played golf because she was supposed to, because she was so good at it, not because she had this overwhelming urge to play. Her success would become a means to an end and define her life with a purpose, which isn’t a bad thing unless that purpose is defined by someone else.

Sure, lots of kids feel the avalanche of parental pressure, but in Wie’s case, there was a fleeting rise to fame – a head-spinning peak of performance when potential was all she had. Before we knew it, she was competing against grown men at the game’s highest level, trying to climb a mountain that couldn’t be scaled. Nowadays, even the plateaus have become difficult to navigate.

So she turned pro and went off to college, an oxymoronic career path which stated Wie’s independence and satisfied the business sensibilities of all the pilots around her. Perhaps this is the best of both worlds, so to speak, with one providing a built-in excuse as to why she wasn’t excelling in the other. It makes perfect sense that Wie loves the Solheim Cup. In a team event with emphasis on the group, not individual performance; Michelle found comfort in the crowd. She found a place to hide.

A longtime member of the Wie camp once told me the girl didn’t play a round of golf without her parents watching until shortly before she enrolled at Stanford. It’s hard enough to wrestle the alligator that is greatness. Imagine trying to do it while mommy and daddy control your limbs with strings from above. In retrospect, I don’t think B.J. and Bo Wie had any idea their constant presence was feeding the beast that has become the anti-champion in their daughter.

They say what you don’t know can’t hurt you. I say no mulligans, partner.

In Tiger’s case, golf isn’t so much a chore as it is a proving ground – a forum. If you won 14 major titles in 12 years with two of the game’s most renowned swing coaches, what on earth would compel you to blow up the bridge? More than ego, Woods seems to consider it his God-given privilege to be “correct.”  He’s too preoccupied with technique, otherwise known as the Wrong Side of Town for a guy with perhaps the greatest competitive instincts in golf history.

And what’s even worse, people still seem to buy into every explanation Woods offers. Many couldn’t stop drooling after Eldrick got up and down from a bunker to salvage his first-round match against Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Are you kidding me? A short-sided 9-iron into the sand with the game on the line, and we’re heralding his grit?

By the end of his match against Watney, Tiger was a cat with all nine lives in the rear-view mirror. He said he’d been pushing his putts all day. Why not aim a little more left? The irons he keeps hitting too far – is it the vengeful emergence of several random factors or the somewhat obvious perception that he’s just not sharp? Still, plenty of folks buy in. They anticipate the reappearance of Tiger 2000 or even 2006 while loading their shotguns with rounds of I-Told-You-So.

Maybe golf made Woods famous, and maybe that fame bit him on the backside. Maybe his backside still hurts. Maybe Chamblee was right. Arnold Palmer, an icon for whom high-profile failure became a significant element in his career, still plays giggle golf with the fellas, forever embracing the challenge of a game that didn’t always hug him back. Jack Nicklaus, meanwhile, headed in another direction, not so much bowing to his uncompromising competitive standards, but finding other ways to appease it.

There’s no law that says you have to love golf to be the best at it, but then, “love” is one of those four-letter words that means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.