The No. 1 player in the world dropped the hammer in Tucson at the Match Play again. Were you surprised? Me neither, but I did see something that was a little bit encouraging by a couple of his opponents.
First there was J.B. Holmes, who was 3 up with five to play. At some point before the 14th hole J.B. had to look at the scoreboard and think to himself, I got him! Three holes later hes looking at the scoreboard going, What the hell just happened? I cant feel my butt, is it still there? Why is Tiger smiling shaking my hand? What the hell just happened?
Aaron Baddeley impressed me even more. Remember the opening hole of the U.S. Open last year? I do. Badds was paired with The One and had a two-shot lead on him. A triple bogey later and hes walking to the second tee box thinking to himself, I hope theres pudding in clubhouse for dinner because I just got my teeth knocked out. But there he was Saturday taking Tiger to extra holes. Not only that, he had a couple chances to take Tiger out! Now before you start calling him any names, you should know that even Tiger said ALL of Arrons putts were extremely difficult and not really makeable.
My point is this: guys are getting closer. Please dont start e-mailing me yet; let me finish. We are in a time in golf weve never been in before. The more I think about it and talk to older players the more of a realization I have come to. See, back when Jack was the man, guys playing against him started the week thinking they were gonna win. I mean they knew Jack would probably be there near the top at the end but they all BELIEVED they could win. Not now. Guys believe when Tiger is around that they cant win. You wanna know why Jack had so many second place finishes, you wanna know why Jack says Tiger plays a different game, well there it is.
Jack used to walk down the driving range and listen for which guys were complaining about stuff (weather, rough, greens) and he would count them out for the week. Tiger walks down the driving range and guys stop hitting balls. I dont know why. Its not like they stop and stare at him, but if you watch closely you can see the pause. But, thats starting to change.
Now I know why Tiger doesnt play as much as we (fans, media, etc.) want. Because when he shows up at a tournament he is completely prepared, which is a bit harder than we all think, and more importantly hes hungry. For the field, the less he plays the more his aura grows. Guys think to themselves, Im out here busting my butt to get a win and this guy just shows up and dominates. Ive got no chance. See, if Tiger played every week hed start grinding too and getting beat A LOT more. It just happens; thats what guys do; its a golfers nature: Tinker, tinker, tinker -- What happened to my game?! The thing is: guys are getting closer to believing they can take him every now and then.
Its almost like the first fight between Tyson and Holyfield. First couple rounds you could see the fear in Holyfields eyes. Thinking to himself, I might die tonight. Then by the 5th round, Hey, Im gonna LIVE!!! Then by the 8th, He aint so bad. Then in the 10th, IM GONNA KNOCK THIS FOOL OUT!
Were in the 5th round with Tiger now and I think guys are just starting to think, Im gonna live! I might not win, but Ill live. Couple more years and we MIGHT see someone punch the bully square in the face. Problem is this bully wont back down.
Im finally back on the East Coast, so I know exactly when all my TV shows are on, dont have to get up three hours early to go on the air, get nice warm mornings. OK, that last thing is bull. Its 44 degrees this morning in Fla., and I am gonna complain again!
If your town is ever having a drought or a heat spell just invite the PGA TOUR to come for a week. We guarantee rain and cool temps in your town. And to all my Canadian friends who e-mail me about the weather they play in: Get Tiger Woods 08 and a Wii, then tell me how often youre gonna go back outside with your clubs when its nasty. I know, Im an idiot and a wuss. And I love yall too!
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