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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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship

''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Projected FedExCup standings

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“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

Current FedExCup standings

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“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.