Why Pat Perez was wrong about Tiger Woods

By Brandel ChambleeFebruary 26, 2017, 9:00 pm

In the wake of Pat Perez’s comments on Tiger Woods, I have read more than a few pundits who seem to think that this kind of commentary is just what is missing in golf. Some even justify the remarks with the retort that he didn’t lie, that the game needs an infusion of this kind of “honesty," that players far too often speak in platitudes and in so doing, are partly to blame for the game’s failing to connect with a new, younger audience.

Having listened to countless pre-tournament, pre-round and postmortem news conferences I can admit to rolling my eyes a time or two when I hear someone say they need to "stay in the present" or that they are going to "take it one shot at a time." As a former player who has sat in that seat (though not as often as I would’ve liked) and been asked “those questions,” I can tell you that two things are going on in the player’s head.

First, good golf really is quite boring. You hit a driver in the fairway, a 7-iron to 12 feet and you make the putt. Of course the media would love it if a player said his lead was as safe as if it were in the arms of Jesus. Or that a romantic arrangement had been made with his wife, a quid pro quo of sorts, for every birdie made on Sunday and he could promise them a victory but it was going to be a short news conference afterward. As much as we all want to hear and the player wants to be Crash Davis, that's the fantasy; “Nuke” LaLoosh is closer to the reality.

Tiger-Perez dust-up is why some pros stay quiet

Second, everything a player does in the media room is calculated to give him the best chance of playing well. If he's loose in there, it’s because he thinks it well help him. If he's tight-lipped, it’s because at some point in his career he was tight-lipped and played well. When you hear a player using a media member's name before he answers, as in “Well, Dan, that is a great question…” it’s because that rapport relaxes him and will make it easier on him somewhere down the road, hopefully the next day. When Tiger gave concise but often dispassionate responses it was because that had worked for him in the past and he likely thought it would work for him again.

An athlete’s genius rarely extends to the ability to explain exactly what he or she is doing, a subject that David Foster Wallace in his essay “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart” wrote about with an insight that should come as a disclaimer in every champion’s autobiography:

“It is not an accident that great athletes are often called 'naturals,' because they can, in performance, be totally present: they can proceed on instinct and muscle-memory and autonomic will such that agent and action are one. Great athletes can do this even – and, for the truly great ones like Borg and Bird and Nicklaus and Jordan and Austin, especially – under wilting pressure and scrutiny. They can withstand forces of distraction that would break a mind prone to self-conscious fear in two.”

“The real secret behind top athletes’ genius, then, may be as esoteric and obvious and dull and profound as silence itself. The real, many-veiled answer to the question of just what goes through a great player’s mind as he stands at the center of hostile crowd-noise and lines up the free throw that will decide the game might well be: nothing at all.”

Given that the conspicuous virtue of an athlete is his skill in the arena, why should we be so disappointed when they fail to give a parallel description of their genius, given that genius is so hard to define? Even the best, most brilliant of writers struggles for an explanation of what they’ve just seen.

Which brings me back to Pat Perez and his comments. Are we so starved at the lack of colorful comment or insight into an athlete that we accept his remarks as “fresh” or “shockingly honest”?

“[Tiger] knows he can’t beat anybody. But what he does, he’s got this new corporation that he’s started so he’s got to keep his name relevant to keep the corporation going. So he’s going to show up to a few events, he’s going to try to play, he’s going to show … the Monster bag, he’s going to show the TaylorMade driver, he’s going to get on TV. He’s got the Nike clothes, he’s got to keep that stuff relevant.”

What athlete isn’t playing to keep their name and “brand” relevant? The only reason Perez is playing golf is because he’s trying to be relevant and in being relevant he hopes to become massively rich. This comment wasn’t as much honesty as it was hypocrisy.

And in presuming to fathom what Tiger thinks, Perez says Woods knows he can’t beat anybody. Tiger won his first major by 12 shots and his 14th major with a broken tibia in his left leg and in between those two victories won four majors in a row. Those events would have a corrupting immortality in Tiger’s mind, such that even in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary, he would still harbor thoughts of sublimity. Even at half-speed. Even on one leg. Even with a bad back.

To think that this would have occurred to Perez is not asking the cognitive equivalent of his obscene talent (Pat is one hell of a player); it is merely asking that he think before he speaks, something that, I can attest to, is not always easy during a live broadcast. But when one has the time to reflect on what he said and then provide commentary, his remarks should not be confused for honesty or for being fresh or even compelling. They were an attempt at insight that had all the volume of a shotgun blast but as much accuracy as if the trigger were being pulled by Dick Cheney.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.