Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This Week in Golf

Chevron World Challenge - Tiger Woods's annual invitational takes place this week at beautiful Sherwood Country Club just outside of Los Angeles. Sixteen top world players will compete for guaranteed money from the nearly $6 million purse. Unfortunately, the host and defending champion have both withdrawn from the field. Following a minor car accident, Woods cited injuries as his reason to disappoint title sponsor Chevron for the second year in a row by not teeing it up. And defending champion, Vijay Singh, is recovering from recent arthroscopic knee surgery. Their absences will be the story of the week. However, sixteen world class golfers will still be competing on a Jack Nicklaus designed gem in Thousand Oaks. My pick to win this week is Lee Westwood. What a season Westwood has had! His recent victory in the Race to Dubai is a monstrous statement from where he was a few years ago, ranked outside the top 200 in the world. In my opinion, Westwood's comeback was made complete by the season he had this year. Others are shouting that he needs to win a major championship before any declarations can be made. He has contended in a number of them in the last couple years, and I foresee a major victory in the near future for Westwood. As far as a sleeper goes, I am not sure you could call anyone in this limited field a sleeper, but I always like seeing Kenny Perry win. The good ole Kentuckian deserves another little boost after the Masters anyway. NBC will carry the Chevron World Challenge on the weekend.

Q-School - The grueling 90-hole PGA Tour qualifying tournament is being played on a different Jack Nicklaus course in Florida this week. 170 hopefuls will compete against one another for only 25 spots on the PGA Tour. Q-school is an annual event, but no one ever wants to have to return there. This tournament is the most cut-throat of the year, and none of the general public cares who wins. But to the players teeing it up, this week is a chance at the big leagues. Some more well-known golfers who have fell enough in the standings to make a return are former world number one David Duval, Tim Herron, Jesper Parnevik, Jeff Maggert, and Illinois native Todd Hamilton. I assume at least three of these veterans will earn their cards for next year. My favorite for medalist is the young Australian Matt Jones. He has the stamina to last five days, and he got a taste of the Tour this year, playing well at both Deere Run and Torrey Pines. The Golf Channel will cover Q-school.

Tiger - The news that many of us suspected is leaking out slowly, but surely. Hoepfully, Tiger's carefully crafted statement released today will put an end to the media frenzy surrounding his figurative and literal black eye. Woods appeal has definitely grown on me in the past decade. I started getting into golf when Woods was an amateur and not yet dominating every golf headline. No one was a sure bet in the immediate pre-Tiger era. Tom Lehman was player of the year in 1996, but Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Mark O'Meara, Nick Faldo, Davis Love III, Ernie Els and others were all very plausible threats at any major. Today, Tiger takes the odds cake by light years. When he first burst onto the scene in Milwaukee, I found him to be rather arrogant. There was the red shirts, the Nicklaus comparisons, the media attention without any substance for a short time anyway. After the '97 Masters, no one could argue the legitimacy of his praise. However, some things about him still rubbed me the wrong way. He was brash. There was the GQ interview, the swearing, the drubbing victories, and still the constant TV coverage no matter how well he was playing that week. However, as the wins piled up and his demeanor matured, I could not help but be drawn in by the allure of history in the making and the inexplicable shots he produced, even under pressure. My favorite events are the ones in which he is present and challenged. With Woods in the mix, you know who is going to win, but the entertainment value soars when he goes head-to-head with another player, no matter whether it is Bob May, Rocco Meidate, Phil Mickelson, or Ernie Els. I enjoy seeing him win now, and I believe he will break Jack's record and Sam Snead's record. Even if he doesn't though, he has arguably already done more for the game of golf than Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, or Arnold Palmer. And for that, he deserves our respect and appreciation.

As for the revelations we have received this week from the number one golfer in the world and possibly in history, I am disappointed, but not shocked. Woods has maintained a perfect image since IMG took it over near the beginning of his professional career. The only reason it has remained spotless is because the public is not allowed to know hardly anything about him. I do not believe he has changed that much in the last twelve years, but I imagine our view of the man would be very different if we were privy to much more of his thoughts, personality, and actions. That is true of just about anybody, though.

I find the most worrisome factor of this ordeal to be the state of morality in our culture. Sexual promiscuity is everywhere you look. It is on network TV, the internet, billboards, magazines. It's in fashion, news stories, music, art, business, politics, Royal Donut, and everything else. This is not an excuse for what Tiger or anybody else has done, but instead of continually accepting all these public apologies from well-respected and, oftentimes, idolized figures then moving on, I think we need to look at why infidelity is such an issue and try to solve it. As with most problems, I believe the solution starts with small steps taken at the lowest levels. To begin, we need to stay true to the commitments we made to our spouses. Those vows taken before God and witnesses are sacred no matter how cliche they may sound. Next, instilling the seriousness and importance of marriage to our children is key. In our world of divorce, kids are not inheriting an accurate picture of healthy marriages or relationships. Children and teens are also now exposed to the public affairs of their athletic and artistic role models. Grade school boys who watch SportsCenter know what Tiger has done, and they are seeing how big of an ordeal it is. But they will also see how most people will forgive and forget. Teaching the next generation how destructive this type of behavior is to family and self is a responsibility I hope parents are taking up.


  1. Excellent take. I was hopeing that you would write something about tiger.
    Although I disagree about Royal Donut being a place where sexual promiscuity is found. They got rid of their sexually explicit cakes and have really cleaned up their act.

  2. When you put Royal Donut on that list, was it because of the shocking articles in "The Active Senior" tabloid that can be picked up there?

  3. I think steve was refering more to the employees of the Royal than to the Cakes or Active Senior.... but I could be wrong

  4. I don't read "This Week in Golf" for my weekly sermon... get off your high horse!

    PS. That is the dumbest trophy I've ever seen!

  5. To Hecklers,

    First of all, Royal Donut was a natural fit for the subject. From the flirtatious employees to the suggestive cake decorations, racy Active Senior articles, night nurses, and rowdy football victory parties, the Royal contributes more than any other establishment to Danville's nickname of D-Vegas.

    Second, the trophy is amazing for Tiger's "World Challenge." I have loved it since my boy, Tom Lehman, took it home on Y2K from Grayhawk after a classic battle with David Duval. Best work of art out there.

    Third, the sermon was so deeply buried in this piece that only an avid "This Week in Golf" reader would ever get there. 99% of FreeKeon followers only read the title of my articles and groan. They never even read the first paragraph that is on the front page.

    Fourth, even a Shetland pony is tall compared to me. The only type of horse I can get on is high.


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