Demoralizer to Demoralizing

By Randall MellJune 14, 2010, 10:39 pm
2010 U.S. OpenTiger Woods did more than win in a 15-shot romp at Pebble Beach the last time the U.S. Open was played there a decade ago.

He demoralized a generation of players.

Paul Azinger said he felt sorry for the young players entering the game with Woods because they would never know what it’s like to have a chance to be No. 1.

“He’s probably the most dominant athlete in the history of sports,” Azinger said at the time.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods' 2000 U.S. Open romp was the first of four consecutive major victories. (Getty Images)
Woods did more than beat up his competition at Pebble Beach. He beat them down. He began knocking the confidence out of one challenger after another in the unprecedented run of four consecutive major championship triumphs Woods started that week.

With the U.S. Open returning to Pebble Beach this week, the buzz around Woods is considerable again, this time over the demoralizing effect a sex scandal is having on the state of Woods’ game and life. The story today is the lack of confidence Woods may be experiencing, and the confidence his competition is gaining.

It’s possible, for the first time in 262 consecutive weeks, that Woods could leave Pebble Beach without his No. 1 ranking.

Phil Mickelson doesn’t even have to win to take the top spot from Woods. He can do it with a tie for third if Woods misses the cut this week.

Oddsmakers haven’t shown this little confidence in Woods in 13 years.

For the first time since Woods won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, there are oddsmakers who don’t have Woods listed as the favorite in a major he's playing.

Skybet makes Phil Mickelson this week’s favorite at 7-to-1 with Woods at 7½-to-1. Bookmakers Betfred and Coral also make Mickelson their favorites. Ladbrokes makes Woods and Mickelson co-favorites at 8-to-1, the highest odds on Woods in 13 years.

It’s enough to make today’s players want to pull aside all these twentysomethings on the rise this season to make sure they understand the historic turn of events. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler (not in this week's field) and Ryo Ishikawa are enjoying a window, perhaps just temporary, where they can grow up without having to deal with the kind of scars the generation before them dealt with.

At Pebble Beach in 2000, Woods did more than run up the score. He became the biggest, baddest bully golf’s ever seen. He took something more valuable than lunch money. He robbed men of confidence and the respect of much of the golfing public.

“He’s the best in the game, by a long shot,” Ernie Els said after finishing a distant second at Pebble Beach. “It seems like we’re not even in the same ballpark.”

If those record victory margins in majors weren’t discouraging enough, Woods’ competition endured being buried beneath the mountain of praise that legends of the game were heaping on Woods.

“He’s supernatural,” Tom Watson said before Woods won the PGA Championship at Valhalla in the same summer as his Pebble Beach romp. “One day I’m going to tell my grandchildren that I played in the same tournament as Tiger Woods.”

After Jack Nicklaus questioned the failed challenges a generation was mounting against Woods, Lee Trevino defended Woods' competition. In doing so, though, Trevino managed to enlarge the giant shadow Woods cast over his peers.

“Tiger would have kicked the hell out of us, too,” Trevino said of his generation. “This guy is the most amazing athlete in any sport, ever. Jack might have put a dent in his fender here and there, but I wouldn’t have beaten him.”

Al Besselink, a six-time PGA Tour winner who played with Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead, said his generation couldn’t have competed with Woods, either.

“Ben Hogan had to have the smartest brain in golf,” Besselink said. “Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, they're great, great players, and I'm not knocking any of them, but if you put them all in a horse race with Tiger Woods, Tiger would beat them by eight lengths.”

Three-time major championship winner Nick Price saw the impact all of this was having on young careers.

“I feel sorry for the young guys,” Price said. “Basically, I’ve had my day. The young guys are taking a pounding from this guy. I don’t know how to describe it.”

There is no player in his 20s today who holds a major championship trophy, but the opportunity’s there this week that wouldn’t have been there a decade ago.

McIlroy, Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwarztel and Alvara Quiros are among the youngest challengers hoping to break through.

Pre-scandal, the golfing public wouldn’t have given a young pro any chance against Woods at Pebble Beach.

At his best, Woods did everything but knock the hope out of youthful challengers.

Luke Donald dared to wear red in his final pairing with Woods in the last round of the PGA Championship at Medinah in 2006. It felt like a challenge with Woods claiming red as his power color on Sundays. Tied with Donald when Sunday opened, Woods birdied the first hole to take the lead and never looked back. He shot 68. Donald didn’t make a birdie all day and shot 74.

Back in Great Britain, somebody cruelly dubbed unfulfilled potential as “Luke Donald’s Disease.” Maybe it should have been called “Tiger Woods' disease.” Who knows what damage Woods really caused in the development of young potential.

Aaron Baddeley was putting together his best major championship effort at the U.S. Open at Oakmont three years ago when he was paired with Woods in the final twosome off in the final round. Baddeley triple-bogeyed the first hole and went on to shoot 80. Woods didn’t win, but he left his mark on Baddeley.

Who will ever forget Matt Gogel’s reaction when Tiger Woods came from seven shots back with seven holes to go to beat him at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2000? Gogel didn’t know what hit him. It wasn’t a major, but the loss didn’t just affect Gogel. It reverberated through golf.

Sergio Garcia was 19 when he mounted that bold challenge to Woods at the PGA Championship at Medinah in '99. Garcia hasn’t only failed to win a major. In the 41 majors he’s played as a pro with Woods in the field, he’s finished ahead of Woods just five times, four them at the British Open.

Anthony Kim, 24, who won’t play this week while recovering from a thumb injury, is developing well with three PGA Tour victories, but in the first 24 events he played with Woods in the field he never finished higher than Woods. He didn’t top Woods until he finished third at this year’s Masters, a spot ahead of Woods.

Before the scandal, when Woods’ name hit a leaderboard, it impacted every player on that board.

“He’s a freak of nature, worlds apart from the rest of us in every way,” Michael Campbell said back when Woods ran away at Pebble Beach.

When Woods tees it up this week, all those players with scars inflicted by Woods will be checking to see if the bully shows any signs of stirring.

All those players who got whipped by Woods at Pebble Beach a decade ago will probably tell you they're glad Woods is back playing, but they hope the bully’s gone forever.
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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.


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Vandalism

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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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