July 31, 2011
Tiger should wait until next year
By IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - In the wake of feel-good stories such as Rory McIlroy's dominance at the U.S. Open, Darren Clarke and Tom Watson at the British Open and Adam Hadwin at the RBC Canadian Open, we turn to a familiar face for those who haven't yet had their intervention.
The news du jour is that Tiger Woods returns this week at Firestone. So, let the analyzing begin as Tiger awakens from his dormant state to find himself 21st in the world rankings and looking to leapfrog from 133rd in FedEx Cup standings into the top 125 so he can continue playing this season.
Of course, the PGA Championship is coming up and we all know the association between Tiger and the majors. Well, not so much anymore, since the last major he won came more than three years ago.
That’s the problem with this rush back to action. We’ve all heard him say that he has recovered from his injuries only to discover that is not the case. So, he emerges in the middle of a swing change with reportedly little practice and suddenly we’re supposed to believe he’s the Tiger of old.
Is the Tiger of old fading in our memories? Even his T4 finish at the Masters is disappointing by his own standards and the last image we have of Woods on the golf course is limping off at TPC Sawgrass.
Even with 14 majors, his legacy is changing quickly and it could get worse if he isn’t ready for his comeback this week. With every less-than-impressive showing, the Tiger we once knew sinks deeper into a witch brew of scandal, ego, injuries, mediocrity and controversy over the firing of caddie Steve Williams.
If those nasty characteristics of a once-magnificent career aren’t already indelible, they certainly will be unless Woods lives up to his own standards in the next few weeks. It looks right now like the harder he tries, the deeper he goes into his personal quagmire.
Barring something unforeseen in the next few weeks, the things he doesn’t want erased from people’s memories could be exactly what he is remembered for. So he needs to go in prepared or be remembered as old Elvis as opposed to young Elvis.
Taking the rest of the year off and making a healthy, fresh start in 2012 after a winter of work makes far more sense.
The luck of the Irish, as the tale goes, is not about good luck, but a positive attitude in dealing with misfortune.
Be it a supernatural lucky charm or a subconscious attitude adjuster, the members of Credit Valley Golf and Country Club in Mississauga have their own souvenir from Northern Ireland that they’re calling the luck of the Irish.
John Yates and his nephew, Paul Macdonald, have been leading a group of Credit Valley members and other golfers to Northern Ireland to play in the Causeway Coast Amateur tournament on four links courses including Royal Portrush, where Clarke and Graeme McDowell are members.
Other events on the trip include challenge matches at Ardglass, the sister club of Credit Valley and a club where McIlroy is a member. They also play the Ulster-Scott Challenge at Portstewart.
On June 12, Leslie Lynas, the co-founder of the Ulster-Scott Challenge, gave Yates a hat from County Armagh Golf Club, which was signed by McIlroy, McDowell and Clarke, who Yates calls “the Ulster lads.”
The hat had been signed at the Ryder Cup and, at the time, only McDowell had won a major, that coming at the 2010 U.S. Open. Just a week after Yates received the Ulster Boys hat, McIlroy had his memorable performance at this year’s U.S. Open.
It didn’t stop there as Clarke continued trend with his victory at the British Open.
“At the time, we were not aware of the Irish magical powers of the Ulster Boys hat,” said Yates, who says that soon changed. “Three names on a lucky Irish hat — three majors and two within a month of the presentation of the Ulster Boys hat.”
With its luck of the Irish times three, the Ulster Boys hat has taken a place of honour in the Credit Valley trophy case.
THE SHORT GAME
An MRI has indicated that Mike Weir has a slight tear in the tendon in his right elbow. Weir, who withdrew from the Canadian Open, will be out of action two to three weeks before the injury is re-evaluated. The reality is that Weir won’t return until the Fall Series at the earliest ... Henry Brunton has left his position as head coach of Canada’s men’s team after 12 years on the job, citing business and family reasons for his decision. There’s no reason to doubt that, but it is possible that budget cuts at Golf Canada helped influence that decision ... Even if it was the CN Canadian Women’s Open that received fifth major status over the rebranded Evian in France, does it not seem odd that a tour that will have about 25 events in total on next year’s schedule has five major championships? Ask yourself this: How much attention did you pay to the Women’s British Open on the weekend or the Evian the week before? Marketing and a television contract of any significance is what the LPGA needs, but money talks, no matter how silly the conversation.