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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Friday, June 12

Tiger Woods

After Tiger’s exhibition last week at the Memorial, I finally have to go against all I’ve said in his defense for the last several years. He looks like a man floundering so bad he’ll never get back to a competitive level. Next week’s US Open should be the final test. It’s amazing how some golfers can maintain their skill levels into their mid to late forties—Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Steve Stricker. Yet some lose it and never get it back—David Duval, Mike Weir, Lee Janzen, Stuart Appleby, Curtis Strange, Johnny Miller. One day they’re at the top of their games and the next day they’re off the golfing maps. Chip Beck shot a 59 in 1991 when he was 35 and then missed 46 consecutive cuts from 1997 to 1998. David Duval was ranked #1 in 1998, shot a 59 at the Bob Hope Classic in 1999, and won the Open in 2001, and then, through a variety of medical issues (some of which had to be mental), couldn’t do diddly on a golf course. Johnny Miller at the end of his career felt like he was holding a snake instead of a putter. And the list goes on and on. The parallels between Tiger and Ian Baker-Finch are noteworthy. Baker-Finch, when he was 31, won the Open in 1991 and then went into nearly a total funk. “He started to lose confidence in his game and tinkered with his swing often. . . . The problems were often psychological. He would hit shots flawlessly on the practice range, and then go to the first tee and hit a weak shot into the wrong fairway.” (Wikipedia) Eerily similar, right? Except that Tiger hits his first drives waaay left or waaay right. The golf analysts examine his swing in super slow motion, talking about his radical head drop, wondering why he isn’t aware of it and why he doesn’t correct it. He keeps talking about his clubhead speed and how he’s got it right back to where it used to be, how he and his new swing coach Chris Como are working on his new swing. The driver isn’t the only errant club in his bag. What about those bladed and chunked chips and pitches? I’d hate to see Tiger’s career end in 2015, but I know if he doesn’t feel like he can contend, win again, he may decide to hang it up.
No more fist pumps, no more triumphal shrieks,
no more magical moments. The analysts all seem to agree that the problem is more mental than physical. All of us who have ever played this maddening game know that once we no longer believe we can make a shot or a putt, it’s all over. Just take the clubs, bag and all, and put ‘em in a dark place in the garage. And then take up bowling. I’ll bet Tiger would be a great bowler.
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