ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Celebrated for their biting humor, Hall of Fame inductees Peter Alliss and Dan Jenkins aimed their gifts at Tiger Woods at the end of their news conferences before the induction ceremony Monday at the St. Johns County Convention Center.
Jenkins wondered aloud about Woods’ heart.
Alliss wondered about his brain, and other parts of his body.
They didn’t spare their acerbic wit doing so.
Allis said he was perplexed by Woods making his third swing change as a pro.
“I do not understand the thinking of Tiger Woods,” Alliss said. “I think his golfing brain, for some reason or other, is completely addled.
“Perhaps the good part of his brain for a period drained from here, down to here,” Alliss said, motioning from his head to his groin. “And that caused him great distress, probably a modicum of enjoyment at the time. But he’s gone.”
Alliss didn’t spare the competition Woods faced winning 14 majors.
“He was Gulliver in the land of Lilliputians,” Alliss said.
Alliss, the popular English BBC commentator who played in eight Ryder Cups, is the son of an accomplished player and teacher.
“I’m not saying I’m a great teaching guru, but I’d love to have about a half an hour [with Woods]. If he couldn’t be put right in an hour, I’d go home and stick my head in a bucket of ice water, because it’s so simple. You stand and you swing.”
Allis said he was standing with Arnold Palmer at Augusta National’s practice range last year when he was astounded by what he saw Woods working on.
“There, 50 yards away,” Allis said, “is Tiger Woods being shown how to chip. `You must do it this way, this way.’ And I said to Arnold, are we seeing, are we going [crazy]? He was the greatest chipper in the world for a period, and this guy is teaching, `No, don’t do it that way.’
“It’s like Pavarotti saying `I’m fed up being a tenor; I think I’m going to sing as a baritone.’ Land sake. That’s as stupid as that in my opinion.”
Jenkins, the long-time Sports Illustrated and then Golf Digest writer, said he believed it would be a great story if Woods won another major, his 15th.
“Because he’ll be the first guy that ever did it with three swings,” Jenkins said.
Asked if he believed Woods will win another five majors and pass Nicklaus’ record, Jenkins didn’t hesitate.
“No,” he said. “Next question.”
Asked to compare the nature of champions from different eras, Jenkins said: “I believe the athletic heart can transfer eras, it can move from one decade to the other. Lee Trevino said this better than anybody: `You never know what’s in a guy’s heart.’ How big a winner is he going to be? I don’t know, because I don’t know what’s in his heart.
“If you’re a competitor, if you’re a great athlete, you can move from one era to another because you’re still people.
“The thing I always thought, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but everybody wants to win and everyone says they want to win, but the great champions absolutely despised the idea of losing. I think that’s what Ben Hogan had, what Arnold [Palmer] had, Jack [Nicklaus] certainly had it. I frankly don’t know whether Tiger Woods has it or not because he has never had to come from behind. Every major he won he was in front and everyone, most of them, dropped dead.”