Tiger, Lydia and other pairings
Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Tiger Woods underwent a fourth back surgery last week that will keep him out of action at least for the balance of this season, if not longer. If this is the end of the line for Tiger’s competitive career, where could he make the biggest impact, either inside or outside of golf, moving forward?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I have the feeling that Tiger’s a very bright guy, and would be successful in anything he chose to do, inside or outside of golf. I could see him being handed an executive job with Nike, or perhaps more fittingly, a company like Callaway or TaylorMade that still makes equipment, where he could be instrumental in developing the product and promoting the brand, and ultimately, running the company. Or, perhaps, starting his own equipment company. And then, eventually, politics. Senator Tiger sounds kinda silly, but I don’t think it’s beyond possibility. I can’t imagine he’d just sit back, count his money, and troll IHOP waitresses.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I would be devastated if this is the end for Tiger. I think his biggest impact will be outside of golf, and the charitable donations and foundation works. The impact on that end will far outlast his playing career impact.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): With his enormous wealth, Tiger’s biggest impact would be through acts of philanthropy and charity away from the golf course. I’m not really sure what Tiger could contribute to the game going forward. I don’t foresee him taking up an administrative role with the tour and he’s far too boring of a personality for a job in the broadcast booth. Instead, he should devote his time and money to expanding the Tiger Woods Foundation and its outreach.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It will be interesting to see where he makes an impact. He’ll get more involved in golf course architecture, but not sure he’ll make a huge impact there. I think he’ll become a bit of a mentor for the younger players and coach some Ryder Cup and President’s Cup teams, and help the young Americans be better players. And in between those gigs, I’m hoping he wants to help out a young, up and coming golf travel company. We’ll see!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: This is well and truly the end of the road. He would be best served getting healthy enough to enjoy his children and devote himself to his Foundation. The commercials indicate it has done some very good work — as we know in the Trump/Clinton era, all foundations ain’t what they say they be. If he focuses on the Foundation and not his lost dream, it would be a karmic payback to the kids who lost a lot of innocence when his off-course scandals hit the front pages.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The media has an obsession with all things Tiger Woods, much the same way they pay attention to Donald Trump. The thought of 24/7 coverage of Tiger doing anything moving forward is too scary to contemplate. I’d suggest he lay low for a while, enjoy his kids and future grandkids, and then hit ceremonial tee shots once a year at the Masters when he’s in his 90’s.
Lydia Ko fired another caddie last week, bringing the total of former Ko caddies to nine. There’s presumably some disconnect in the Ko camp. What does she need to do to fix it?
Deeks: As long as her clubs do the talking, it probably doesn’t matter who’s on Lydia’s bag. But if it’s her parents calling the shots, as has been speculated, then she needs to send Mom and Dad back to New Zealand and work on making a lasting caddie relationship on her own. Everybody cools off eventually, and you need positive reinforcement and knowledgeable support when it does.
Loughry: She just needs a veteran caddie (I know she’s let a few go), who knows the greens on that circuit. There’s no way her poor play is due to her caddies, she has new equipment, and she is also dealing with the business end of her success which is no doubt pulling her out of her normal practice regimen. Combine that with other players that are hungry, it all adds up. So, she needs to tune out whatever voice, whether that’s hers or someone else in her camp, is telling her it’s the caddies fault.
Kaplan: Nine caddies! That’s just ridiculous! Ko is a world class athlete with unbelievable talent, but at some point, she needs to look in the mirror and accept the realities of the sport that she plays. Everyone goes through peaks and valleys in golf, and no one — not even Tiger in his prime — wins every event that they compete in. Obviously, this is not a good look for the 20-year-old!
Rule: That’s ridiculous! Clearly it has something to do with the player; she only just turned 20 for crying out loud! Tiger has only had 3 in his whole career! I’m not sure what the issue is, but if she wants to remain at the top of the game for a long time, she needs to solidify her team, and find someone she can put up with for more than 3 weeks!
Quinn: It always rankles, and often boils up into anger, when players achieve a certain level of success — let alone topping the world rankings — and then turn their backs on the equipment and apparel companies, and coaches, that had financed and nurtured their ascent. Ko has fired nine caddies and Callaway. She now plays PXG and their new ‘Ko inspired’ Bat Attack putter retails for $550 (US greenbacks). I really don’t care if she fixes it – ‘it’ being her personality? Her ego? Her over-bearing parents? I don’t care a fig (as my grandmother used to say and still not quite sure what it means but like the tone) about Ko her own self.
Mumford: Occasionally, a player and a caddie have bad chemistry but nine times? Most of the caddies that ply their trade on the tours are very professional and know how to manage their player, which includes knowing when to shut up. The fault here is totally with Ko. The outside influences can’t be directing what happens inside the ropes. She needs to take full responsibility for what happens on the course and make a commitment to stick with one caddie for the season. She might be surprised how much help that caddie can be in all manner of things if she shows confidence in him or her.
The Zurich Classic kicks off this week in New Orleans as a team stroke play event, the first truly innovative format the PGA Tour has tried in some time. What teams are you excited about and how do you think the event will be received by golf fans and the media?
Deeks: I can’t say I’ve paid any pre-tournament attention to this, so I can’t pick a team. Well, okay, if you insist… Al Geiberger and Chi Chi Rodriguez. They’re both overdue for a win. Seriously, I do hope this event catches peoples’ interest, which it probably won’t till they tune in Saturday and go “what the heck is this?”
Loughry: I think this event will go over amazingly and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Players will definitely be more emotional and engaging. Day/Fowler is going to be a good team. So too will be Team Canada’s Hughes/Taylor and Hearn/DeLaet. A couple of wily old dairy state vets teaming up, Stricker/Kelly, they’re my wildcard. I’ll be watching; I’m sure many will be.
Kaplan: I expect this week’s Zurich Classic to be a huge success. I’m sure there will be a little confusion regarding the format, but I expect this event to be hugely entertaining and a nice reprieve from the monotony of weekly stroke play. There are a lot of great tandems in the field for this week’s event, but the pairs that I am most excited to watch are Bubba Watson/J.B. Holmes; Mackenzie Hughes/Nick Taylor; Hearn/DeLaet; Smylie Kaufman/Harold Varner III and, of course, the superstar pairing of Jason Day/Rickie Fowler.
Rule: I’m excited for the new format, although I may not be able to watch any of it. I think the event will be well received, it’s nice to have a bit of a change, and team events always attract attention. Rose and Stenson look like a great team, but I’m thinking the President’s Cup pairing of Brendan Grace and Louis Oosthuizen will win, narrowly beating out Bud Cauley and Justin Thomas.
Quinn: Love the innovation, like the format of two days of Foursomes (alternate shots, or learning how to say; ‘I’m sorry.’) and two days of best ball. It has the potential for great theatre after the riff raff and stand-ins are off the stage. The field is bloated with B-listers. Rocco Mediate? Please! There are some twosomes that no one would leave a bar stool in any joint on Bourbon Street to watch them walk down the sidewalk, let alone pay for a ticket and drive to the course to see them miss the cut. But must-see TV will be the Boys of Rio, Rose and Stenson teamed up. That has the potential to be amazing. Golf fans should love it, the media embrace it, if Sunday afternoon it’s Rose & Stenson in best ball against, say, Day & Fowler, or some twosome all golf fans can identify. Otherwise, back to the drawing board.
Mumford: I’m excited about the format. The field won’t be strong but enough top players are embracing the concept to make it interesting. Most pundits like the Rose/Stenson team or the Day/ Fowler pairing but I’m inclined to think there could be an upset in the making. I’ll go with the all-Japanese team of Hideki Matsuyama and Hideto Tanihara. If nothing else, the spelling of their names will drive sports editors nuts.