What Do You Believe

By Rich LernerAugust 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Every Tiger Woods win becomes a statement not only on his greatness, but seemingly a knock on his competition.
 
Theyre not as tough, the thinking goes, as the previous generation which challenged Jack Nicklaus.
 
The new generation is never as tough as the old one, is it? You know the one that played without facemasks and walked to school without shoes? In two feet of snow.
 
In golf, the story goes that the old generation drove Chevys from city to city. The new generation flies private from country to country. Weve gone from real men with attitude to pretty boys with talent. John Wayne to John Tesh. Tony Bennett to Tony Robbins. Reality or just romance for nostalgia?
 
What do you think?
 
Do you believe that, as Paul Goydos says, there are no Lee Trevinos on Tour these days, but rather 10 its so deep? Or that today, making millions for top-10 finishes leads to mediocrity and that in Trevinos day you had to win if you wanted to make real money?
 
Do you believe that, as Tom Watson warns, money corrupts desire, and that in Trevinos words, 'a dog dont hunt unless its hungry?' Or do you believe that it depends on the person? That Hal Sutton, born to money, earned his rep as a tough as nails competitor because he hated losing, that Stewart Cink, previously the poster boy for a generation that cashes big checks without big titles, burns to win not because he needs to in order to pay his bills, but because hes trying to achieve a measure of greatness?
 
Do you believe that guys in Jacks era won more majors because they were fearless, hardened products of parents who lived through the Depression and WWII? Or, that Phil and Vijay and Padraig and Ernie, all with three majors, deserve more time before being judged?
 
Do you believe that courtesy cars, entourages and lucrative sponsor deals produce pampered players? Or that by calling players soft you only diminish what Tigers done, a way of saying hes not beating anyone?
 
Do you believe, as Watson does, that Tigers better than Jack, that Vijay and Phil and the rest want to win as badly and possess as much talent as Trevino, Player, Palmer and Casper did? Or do you think that its impossible to compare eras given changes in equipment?
 
Do you believe that Watsons near win at Turnberry at almost 60 years of age was an indictment of the current generation? Or, that it was simply a testament to one players lasting greatness, as it was when Jack contended at the Masters at age 58?
 
Do you believe todays generation is overly reliant on gurus, more focused on the science of swing than the art of playing? Or that the search for answers can lead to greatness in your 30s, as it did Nick Faldo and Nick Price and Ben Hogan?
 
Really, there are no pat answers. Theres also no disputing that every generation has talent and tough guys. It is rather telling, though, that the toughest and most talented of this generation was the first one back at work at 6:45 Monday morning here at Hazeltine.
 
Twelve hours after he won for the 70th time.
 
Money had not a damn thing to do with that.
 
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