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Hooks and Cuts: Hair of the (under)dog

Robert Rock
Getty Images
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 22: Lee Westwood of England tees off on the 14th hole during the final round of the Dubai World Championship and the Race To Dubai on the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 22, 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)  - 

Bobby Rock, aka Robert Rock, doesn’t get haircuts, just trims. He’s never in a state of growth, just maintenance. Because that soap opera hair, that “Dynasty” hair, that Lee Majors hair requires constant care. And it does not do well under a hat. I mean, who says no to a lid in the Arabian Desert? Who plays ice hockey without a helmet? Bobby Rock.

• Golf’s the great equalizer. Kyle Stanley’s breezing across Torrey Pines in all his Camilo-ness, like a movie star – trim, fit and cool as if in an Esquire fashion shoot – and then in five agonizing minutes he’s a 15 handicap making triple. What a brutal game.

• My dad is almost 85, fighting through a tough year health wise. Last week, he finally sounded upbeat. Why? He had hit a few golf balls for the first time in months, telling me, “I was hittin’ ‘em pretty good, not like you guys but 150 yards or so.” What a beautiful game.

• I love Rory. I really think he’s special. But in terms of star power, he simply can’t match Tiger. Rory sells some tickets, sure, but Tiger has a line around the block at Times Square.

• Lydia Ko, a 14-year-old amateur, won a women’s professional event in Australia. It’s getting to the point where if your 15-year-old can’t break 75, they’re a chop.

• Tiger admitted he went to Abu Dhabi for the seven-figure appearance fee. Can you imagine Tom Brady bowing out of a Patriots’ regular season game to go play in China because a bank threw $2 million at him? 

• Stanley’s third shot to 18 in regulation looked lovely, didn’t it? Being a little long in two looks better, a fact that is of no help now to Stanley but should be to all future leaders playing Torrey’s 72nd.

• A pudgy overachiever nicknamed “The Grip,” a South Korean power-lifter, and now an English driving range pro. Alongside the likes of Ed Fiori and Y.E. Yang, Rock assumes his place in the odd assemblage of men who’ve taken down a 54-hole, front-running Tiger.

• Rory’s clearly improved his conditioning, but paired with Tiger he looks like Wes Welker next to Ray Lewis.

• In the triple bogey-to-blow-a-tournament club that should never admit any more members, Jean Van de Velde and Robert Garrigus have company in Stanley. Did I mention that this can be a brutal game? Absolutely brutal.

• Tiger swung it poorly down the stretch and his ability to stay in the moment while fine tuning his new move remains questionable, but he is coming back. To argue otherwise would not be a sensible position. And when he’s hitting that squeeze 3-wood with a slight peel, 290 yards off the left side as he did for three days, you get a glimpse of what he’s after.

• Turns out that golf’s not unlike football. Prevent defenses never seem to work when you’re trying to protect a lead.

• Tiger used to run through, walk over and occasionally trample people. Now he’s older, with a few demons of his own and up against fields that are significantly better and deeper. He used to be The One.  At the moment, he’s one of many competitive and capable players.

• The best football players in the world always play in the NFL. The best basketball players in the world always play in the NBA. The best golfers in the world don’t always play The PGA Tour. And it diminishes, if only slightly, the Tour’s brand while confusing fans. Fans don’t have eight hours to watch two tournaments in the same day. They make choices. If history’s a guide, Tiger was the popular choice this past weekend.

• The football may be over after Brady and Manning settle their Super Bowl score this weekend, but there’ll still be a great passer worth watching over the next few months. Ricky Rubio’s as good as I’ve seen in years.

• Why go for the Tudor clubhouse or the Mediterranean style when you can unleash the Falcon? Nothing says “oil’s flowing” quite like the Falcon clubhouse in Abu Dhabi.