Tiger and Todd The Grass is Greener


There was a beautiful simplicity to the Open Championship triumph of the journeyman called Todd Hamilton. What a journey, man.
Hamilton basically played one shot. It was a powerful, slight left-to-right shape in which the trajectory rarely changed. And it turned out to be perfect for Royal Troon, where the firm fairways tended to straighten the ball out once it hit the ground.
Hamiltons ball flight also worked well on and around the greens where the putting surfaces were NOT as slick as most majors. Moreover, when Hamilton missed a fairway, it usually wasnt by much.
Then there was the utility club with which Hamilton basically won the golf tournament. At the end, I was waiting for him to spool spaghetti with the thing.
Todd Hamilton knew his game, knew the course and kept it simple. He is the Champion Golfer of the Year.
Never has the contrast, in recent years, been greater between a major winner and Tiger Woods. Not even Ben Curtis.
Woods arrived at Royal Troon confident. He talked about the need there to control trajectory and shape and summon up the right shot for the right situation.
This is all fundamentally sound thinking. And nobody in golf has more shots than Woods. Its just that sometimes golf courses arent the Sistine Chapel and sometimes you dont have to be a master to paint your game on their canvases.
The esteemed golf psychologist Bob Rotella reminds us golf is not a game of perfect. Once again, watching Woods in this most recent major was an exercise in frustration seeing a player so frustrated when shots didnt come off exactly as planned.
Woods raised the bar so high four summers ago that even he is having trouble clearing his and everybody elses expectations. There will be no tag days any time soon for Woods. And hes not looking for anybody to feel sorry for him.
But it cant be all that easy to wake up in the morning and see your likeness plastered all over the commercial landscape -- television, billboards, magazines, Internet -- knowing that you are not hitting your marks and reaching your short-term goals.
Woods visited a nuclear winter on the rest of the worlds best players when he arrived on the professional golf scene in late 1996. The competition shrank, then recoiled.
For now, that storm is over. And the best of the rest -- most notably Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els -- have regained their balance. Woods will be back. But its hard to imagine he will ever summon up the kind of dominance he enjoyed in 2000 when he won nine times on the PGA Tour, including three majors, while setting or tying 27 tour records.
Tiger Woods right now is searching for a second act. Perhaps, its unfair for us to expect one from him.
Todd Hamilton, meanwhile, is basking in the afterglow of an effective, if uncomplicated, arrival on golfs big stage.
Todd Hamilton knows Tiger Woods is still the most talented player in the world. Tiger Woods knows Todd Hamilton is, at the moment, the happiest.
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