High expectations can be a double-edged sword. Lofty goals can motivate a player to fantastic achievements, but they can also be a crushing burden. How many careers wilted under the label the next Nicklaus?
Weve talked about Tigers so-called slump already in this show, but might our expectations of him be too high? Golf is hard. No one has their A-game all the time. We shouldnt let Tigers record fool us into believing he should play every year as well or better than 2000. He may be able to, but he wont. Thats the beauty of this game. PLEASE, lets wait until he misses a few cuts, goes a couple of years without a major or a season without a win before we bring up the S-word again.
That brings me to Michelle Wie; the big Wiesy. Like any youngster whos recently joined the teenage ranks, her hopes are unrealistically grand. She wants to dominate the LPGA and PGA Tours. She may be the future of womens golf. She may play in a PGA Tour event, maybe even the Masters, but it wont happen this year, or next. Shes made history this summer - celebrate that. Let her be a 13-year-old. Let her game grow into her body, let her make mistakes and learn from them before we burden her with expectations she cant possibly fill, yet.
I dont know about you, but that flap this week at the US Womens Open between Danielle Ammacapane and Michelle Wie and complaints of a fathers less than perfect caddying reminded me of the U.S. Open five years ago.
That was when amateur Matt Kuchar had his father Peter on the bag at the Olympic Club, and by Sunday there was more than one PGA Tour player on the property who wanted to toss a cheering, high-fiving, way-too-high-profile Peter Kuchar into San Francisco Bay.
Should Ammacapane have given some slack to Wie and her father B.J.? Certainly. There will come a time when Michelle Wies presence on the LPGA Tour just might do its purses what Tiger Woods did for the PGA Tours.
But thats not the issue.
The point is that fathers have no business caddieing for their kids in major championships. Thats not a knock against Peter Kuchar or B.J. Wie. Theyre just trying to help their kid as much as possible and sharing the experience.
But its just reality. Its impossible for any father to separate himself sufficiently in such an emotional environment.
Granted, B.J. Wie is a low-key guy and not prone to high-fives, but lets put fathers back under the ropes where they can lose control and nobody cares, and put the caddie bibs on the professionals.
With 14 teenagers in the field at the U.S. Womens Open, I feared it would be all about Justin Timberlake and Linkin Park. But thanks to a certain 43-year-old fireball, there was a place for the likes of The Pretenders and Tom Petty.
Juli Inkster showed those up-and-comers a thing or two, playing with focus, determination and an unwavering enthusiasm that many athletes see fade over time, or worse yet, see turn into a jaded indifference.
Inkster is proof a woman can have it all - family (the older of her two daughters is 13, or what we like to call phenom age in golf) and career - without compromising either
Is it easy? No. Even Annika says she doesnt think shes ready to pull off that balancing act, because in our multi-task world, golf remains a non-multi task sport.
So I hope the teen troupe playing Pumpkin Ridge over the weekend noted more than simply how to play a U.S. Open set-up. I hope they learned some life lessons from Juli Inkster.
The race is a long one - and for all you superstars in waiting, a word of advice: see that image way down at the end of the road? Thats no finish line - thats Inkster.
Shes where youre going; shes already there.
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