A Sunday ago, Tiger was handing the trophy for the Genesis Championship at Riviera to Max Homa. For Max, it was a true achievement of receiving the trophy from his boyhood idol who also made his mark in the Los Angeles area. A week later and Tiger now lays in a hospital bed recovering from surgeries on his legs after a horrific automobile accident. Life is a fragile set of circumstances and events and nothing can be taken from granted. Tiger survived the accident because he was wearing his seat belt. Just about a year ago, the world lost basketball icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in the LA area. These guys were the icons of their sports and in an instant, the world lost them and their leadership attributes that had such a positive impact on society had been taken away. Bryant lost his life in the crash and Tiger suffered nearly the same fate. Much has already been written about these tragedies so there is not more than can be added here. There isn’t much to say or write about the emotional wringing of these events but we have to be thankful that Tiger has survived the accident. The way forward for Tiger will be long and arduous with an uncertain prognosis. We all feel that Tiger has the will, fortitude and stamina to put 1000% effort at recovery and there will be a hierarchy of achievement that will be pursued. The longest part of the recovery will be the long period of rehabilitation to get to a point where he can walk. A lot of comparisons are being made to other athletes who sustained serious injuries most recently by Alex Smith, quarterback of the Washington Football Club. Smith endured multiple surgeries and serious complications following an almost certain career ending injury on the field. He never gave up and worked his way back into playing this season. Smith underwent multiple surgeries and his comeback is an amazing feat. The degree of difficulty of Smith’s recovery set a new standard that no athlete would want to comprehend. Tiger may be facing a similar challenge but the world knows that he will be up to it.
At age 46, it’s hard to handicap whether Tiger will ever be able to play again professionally but that has to be subordinate to be able to enjoy quality of life with his family. Irrespective of whether Tiger makes it back professionally, he will continue to be the major influence on the PGA Tour. Personally, I wanted to see him back at the Masters this year but even last Sunday, his TV interview indicated that he really wasn’t sure when he would be competing again. I still would like to see him get No. 83 to be the winningness professional of all time but today it is unlikely at best. Tiger’s influence on the PGA tour players is indelible and he will continue to make a significant impact on the sport no matter what the physical outcome. Tiger will fade out of the daily highlight newsreel while he deals with the reality of recovery and rehabilitation but he will be in the prayers of a society that has thoroughly enjoyed the brilliance of his career and his contribution to the society.
Cal (University of California) professional golfers strike again. Max Homa breaks through at Riviera and this past weekend, Colin Morikawa won again at the WGT Championship in Florida. Morikawa played nearly flawlessly as putting and chipping tips from senior professionals such as Paul Azinger worked out well especially the putter.
The Concession course in Brandenton, Florida presented some interesting tee shots but these professionals are just too good as drives routinely ran over bunkers. Those tee shots that landed in the fairway bunkers didn’t present much of a challenge to these guys either. Fairway bunker shots by Koepka and Billy Horschel were outstanding usually resulting in birdies. The most entertainment was provided by Victor Hovland. On the first day of the tournament, Hovland came to the ninth hole (his 18th) 7 under par and a closing par would have cemented a first round 65. A poor drive in a terrible place compounded by repeated series of bad lies and bad breaks resulted in Hovland taking a 9 on the hole to finish the round at 2 under. This incident would have “cooked” many players on tour and most guys probably wouldn’t have made the cut. Hovland simply shrugged all of this off and played great golf through the remainder of the event and ended up second, including a final round birdie on the same hole as the “9.” He would have been 19 under par and won the event if he had parred that hole on day 1.
Morikawa and Hovland are emerging as significant burgeoning stars on the PGA Tour. Morikawa simply looked unbeatable as he stared down and executed every shot en route to his victory. Cal is going to be earning some stripes with it’s alumni earning back to back tour victories.
Golf in the Pandemic (Update)
Things are getting a bit out of hand with the state of golf as the pandemic rolls on. Tee times (difficult to get), slow play, bad etiquette, divots not replaced, ball marks on greens not fixed, and all things “bad” about golf are raising their ugly heads to the delight of course operators. Rounds are going straight up as golf is one of the few safe activities that people can enjoy and get out of the house–if you’re not a hiker, cyclist or surfer, you’re probably out playing golf. Private courses that allow guest play are also overrun with tee times annoying members who end up having to book afternoon rounds that end up competing with darkness. I also note that people are taking up golf as instructors that I know are completely booked and group lessons are also on the rise. All of this is good for the popularity of the game–I wonder what will happen to golf when people are able to travel and vacation again–I may be wrong but I predict that the craze will not endure (I’m also predicting the same for Peloton) but it’s great while it lasts. Just pick up the pace, please!