What If Tiger Wanted a Trade
As for Kobe Bryant. just taking Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton from the front pages wasnt good enough. Hes done his best to send the league thats made him famous into chaos during its playoff spotlight.
In a day of radio interviews that seemingly had no end, the star of the Los Angeles Lakers - and perhaps the NBAs brightest star - had requested a trade from Hollywood. Tinseltown, which loves its stars, would perhaps never be the same without number 24 (or the former number 8.)
I would like to be traded, yeah. Tough as it is to come to that conclusion, theres no other alternative, Bryant told ESPN radio.
Then, about three hours later, after a conversation Bryant had with his current (perhaps soon to be former) coach Phil Jackson, Bryant told KLAC radio I dont want to go anywhere, this is my team. I love it here.
Regardless of whether Kobe stays or goes, it brought me to thinking about the world the PGA TOUR lives in.
Kobes frustrated that the Lakers arent pointed in the direction of winning. And with four years left on the seven-year $136.4 million contract he signed in July of 2004, Kobes burned out on trying to light a fire under his current franchise.
Kobes not winning ' enough.
Tiger Woods has 12 professional major titles to his credit. Bryant helped (along with Shaquille ONeal) guide the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight NBA titles but hasnt won since ONeal left town for Miami.
And so goes the difference between two of sports greatest superstars ' and their desire to win, win and win some more.
Tiger Woods is in control of Tiger Woods. As he approaches 60 PGA TOUR titles, he doesnt have to rely on Smush Parker or Lamar Odom or Chris Mimm for help.
Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, can shoot his way to 60 points in a single game ' but it hardly guarentees that his team wins or that his team wins the title that year.
Golfers are required to worry about themselves. NBA stars are required to play within a team concept.
There is no salary cap for Tiger. For the Los Angeles Lakers ' there is.
Tiger dominates the PGA TOUR with regularity but has never asked for a trade because the competition isnt quite good enough. Hes never asked to player for Europe in the Ryder Cup because his American side isnt competitive enough.
My problem with Kobe is not his $136.4 million contract. Its his apparent lack of understanding about the ramifications to the rest of the franchise because of the huge sum paid directly to him.
Sure, the Lakers need to do a better job of finding better pieces to the puzzle around Bryant. And they need to watch what they say about Bryants dedication to the team or lack of dedication. Frustration is one thing ' reality is another.
Does the PGA TOUR need to do a better job of finding the pieces around Tiger in a 156-man field? No, but could it do a better job of promoting its PGA TOUR winners?
Tiger is a part of the team on the PGA TOUR. Kobe Bryant is a part of a team named the Los Angeles Lakers. Fans pay big money to see each man do their thing. If Kobe doesnt like the frustration that comes with playing a team sport ' then give Butch Harmon a call and start working on the 60-degree wedge.
As I see it, Bryant called out Odom and Mimm and Parker as unfit parts in Kobes desire to build a winning team. Are they perfect? Perhaps not, but most NBA players arent stars and are thus reliant upon the likes of a Bryant to achieve a championship.
Michael Jordan never gave up on the Chicago Bulls along the way to its run of titles. And Bryant needs to sit back, be more like Mike as he perhaps chases his legacy, and work harder to make the others into champions just as Jordan did. Believe me ' it will feel a lot better to win when folks think you cant than to have two other stars dumped into his starting five where winning becomes easy.
PGA TOUR golf and the NBA are apples to oranges in comparison. But perhaps each could learn something from the other.
Kobe ought to learn that there isnt an I in team. Winning comes from making others better.
The PGA TOUR ' bolstered by a collective group of individuals focused on their own score ' should do more to develop the team concept that has been brought to light be Kobes comments this week.
For now, (and well see how long this lasts) Bryant and his coach Phil Jackson will be tested to prove their greatness as superstar player and coach. They chose the sport in which they live and play.
As for Tiger - with all due respect, you can bet hes glad his legacy is not directly tied to the likes of PGA TOUR winners Will MacKenzie or Paul Goydos who might be playing alongside in a three-man weave of their own.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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.