Time for Tiger to Retire

By Michael FechterJuly 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
As the winner of the 1980 Al Esposito Junior Invitational, I am uniquely qualified to tell Tiger Woods that it's time to hang up the spikes. Because, that's exactly what I should have done immediately after the highlight of my competitive golfing career.
 
Some may point to the minor differences between Tiger's great win at Torrey Pines and my great win 28 years earlier at the Charleston Municipal Golf Course. But, in reality, they're much the same. As such, it's my duty to warn Tiger of the pitfalls of living with such a win before it ruins his life.
 
I know of what I speak. I had every opportunity to walk away from the game as a 17-year-old, having just told a reporter on the final green of The Al, 'Hey, I almost got beat by a 13-year-old today, I better look for other career opportunities.' Instead, I went on to become a mediocre player on a mediocre college team. With that, and the constant mocking by my own teammates on my booming 225-yard drives, the game lost its magic for me.
 
To many, Torrey Pines was Tiger's defining moment as a professional golfer.
 
I'm telling you, if Tiger lost the Open to some 45-year-old guy with a peace sign belt buckle, it would have been more embarrassing than if I had lost 'The Al' to some kid barely in the throes of puberty.
 
People will say 'What about Nicklaus's records?' Well, those are Nicklaus's records and he can keep them. Barry Bonds may officially have the home run record, but has that made anyone forget Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth? Not at all.
 
I speak as one of Tiger's biggest fans when I say that Tiger's retirement will be great for Tiger. Tiger's life does not look easy or fun, which is why I would understand his retirement. Tiger carries the weight of his own expectations, his Father's expectations and the expectations of something like 19 corporate conglomerates in his every stride. No wonder his knees can't keep up with the burden.
 
Tiger now has to take a year off because he has been so driven to compete that he developed two stress fractures while on a training run. John Daly coughed up a lung when he heard this. My knees have gotten so bad that just last week I had to quit jogging three miles into a six-mile run with my girlfriend. No one noticed when I hired a pedicab to haul my ass back to the house. But, Tiger? In a pedicab? Gatorade wouldn't stand for it.
 
I have always pulled for Tiger. But, as I watched this year's Open, I couldn't help thinking that I would rather be Rocco. Perhaps that's because I, too, am a 45-year-old with a bad back who no one expects much from on or off the golf course. Let's be honest, I am Rocco Mediate. Nike could sell a ton of back braces with that ad campaign.
 
Through the years, Tiger has given us enough. Enough drama. Enough winning smiles. Enough emotion. Enough fist pumps. And, enough hot girlfriends and wives. Tiger you can go ahead and take some time for yourself. Heck, you can take the rest of your life. It is your life, after all.
 
Bobby Jones never expressed any regrets after retiring from competitive golf at 28. Mr. Jones did just fine with his law practice, business interests, co-founding Augusta National and doing whatever a national treasure and landed Southern gentleman does with his down time. Imagine what Tiger can do when he finally gets enough time to finish his Stanford degree.
 
What matters most is Tiger's actual life. If he's not careful, it will pass him by. According to a well-placed Orlando source, prior to Tiger's recent rehab, he was so busy that he had one assistant whose sole job was to remind Tiger of his daughters name. Each time after Tiger's Lear Jet landed in some distant foreign land, the assistant whispered 'Your little girl is named 'Sam.''
 
I can't help but think that Tiger is at his happiest now that he gets to see Sam every day. Heck, I would be happy just sitting around all morning watching Elin eat oatmeal.
 
Well, I'm here, a lone voice in the wind shouting 'Tiger...you just do what you want and it's perfectly OK if it's not golf.' Tiger's been under pressure his whole life, and he deserves a break from the game.
 
I first saw Tiger live on The Mike Douglas Show with Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope. I remember distinctly being a rising 16-year-old junior golfer and thinking, 'With that pushy father, this little kid will burn out by 15 and never even be as good as me.' I was oh, so wrong.
 
For nearly 30 years, I've been hooked on Tiger. I kept up as Tiger won every single World Junior in San Diego even though I lived 3000 miles away. I kept up with his three straight U.S. Juniors and then three straight U.S. Amateurs.
 
It was great that Earl Woods got to see Tiger's '97 Masters victory and the 15-shot win at the 2000 U.S. Open. I remember thinking how cool it would be for Tiger to win the 100th playing of the U.S. Open. I remember thinking how 'if' Tiger could somehow win, it would be perfectly OK with me if he never won another tournament.
 
Tiger won plenty more tournaments from Dubai to Torrey Pines. That chip at the Masters on number 16 will be remembered until the sun explodes. Tiger has created fame and infamy for every runner up from Buddy Marrucci to Bob May and Rocco Mediate. So, Tiger, it is perfectly fine to forget about 'records,' sit back and drink your own special blend of Gatorade until AARP sends you hourly newsletters.
 
Somewhere right now, behind the gates, surveillance equipment, body guards and booby traps surrounding his home are Tiger's wife and daughter. And I bet there is a strong part of Tiger that really does want to be there with them every day.
 
I know that when I was a young father, the most important place on Earth was in the presence of my wife and child. If I were anywhere else, I felt that I was remiss in my primary duty to love and protect them. Despite my now-ex-wife's thoughts on the matter, I know that I am not alone in this thinking.
 
History tells us that there once was a fellow named John Lennon. He was rather famous after a stint in a band called 'The Beatles.' A very popular guy across the Universe, was this John Lennon. Well, after his second son was born, this John Lennon fellow decided that he had enough of touring and recording and well, being John Lennon. So, he stayed home with his baby, Sean, and wife, Yoko.
 
John Lennon never expressed any regrets for what he gave up. In fact, he often referred to those 5 years as the most significant period of his life ' a period completely without gold records, awards, sold-out concerts or jetting about.
 
I figure if it was good enough for John Lennon, a person with encyclopedic knowledge on fame and fortune, it must be good enough for Tiger Woods.
 
Despite what corporate America thinks, American Express and Gatorade and Nike and Buick will do just fine with Tiger off the golf course. Well, maybe not Buick. Tiger's a golfer, not a Nobel Prize-winning hydrogen fuel cell engineer. But, even if no one else on the planet feels this way, I understand. Just do it, Tiger...retire.
 
And, for those who think I'm a hypocrite for telling Tiger to retire while I'm in the midst of what my 85-year-old mother calls my 'ridiculous quest' to regain my junior golfing form, you are absolutely correct. And any way, I'm guessing that like me, Tiger has some personal reason to keep on playing.
 
Tom Werner contributed to this column.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fecheter
 
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.