Tiger‘s Troubles: Until Tiger Woods tees it up again at the Memorial in a couple of weeks, this should be my last comment on the top golfer in the world. As has been widely reported this week, Tiger had a couple of incidents at last week’s Players Championship that brought his on course integrity into question. The first one occurred on Saturday when he pulled a club from his bag, causing a gallery reaction that Sergio Garcia maintains disrupted his swing and caused him to bogey the hole. The other one occurred on Sunday after Tiger hit his tee shot on the 14th hole into the water. Many claim he dropped the ball closer to the green than he was entitled to.
First of all, I’m torn on this subject. It’s incumbent on golfers to follow the rules and police themselves. If Tiger is intentionally pushing the envelope, then that is wrong because he is the most-watched golfer, if not athlete, on the planet. The First Tee program touts that it teaches kids values that they probably don’t learn in other sports. When the face of the sport is breaking the rules, it would seriously diminish golf. However, that being said, I watched almost all of the coverage of last week’s tournament, and I remember seeing just a couple of other players’ drops being shown on television, one of which was Hunter Mahan, who was able to identify his ball in a tree through the use of a marshal’s binoculars. Did anyone even mention anything about the legality of the drop? Not at all. Is that fair to Tiger, that his rules interpretations are being shown and scrutinized at a higher level than his competitors? His drop on Sunday was made at the spot his playing partner and caddies advised him where the ball crossed the hazard line. Mark Rolfing, the NBC announcer who was standing directly behind the tee, told Johnnie Miller that he didn’t have a problem with the spot of the drop. That certainly satisfied me.
My point in all of this is that I agree that Tiger needs to be very careful that his activities on the course are carried out according to the rules of golf. On the other hand, he need not be held to a higher standard just because he is the best player and all of his shots are shown on television. I’ve played golf for virtually my entire life, and the process of determining where to drop a ball and the drop itself is imprecise at best. I hope there is not another incident like this as the season progresses, because if Tiger wins a major or two, it could end up being one of the great seasons in PGA Tour history, possibly just behind Tiger’s own run in 2000 – 2001.
So Long, OKC: Last year’s great story, the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t overcome the departure of James Harden to the Houston Rockets prior to the season and the loss of Brian Westbrook to injury during the first round of the playoffs. Now the Memphis Grizzlies, after victories over the Clippers and the Thunder are the new fashionable pick to face and even possibly beat the Miami Heat in the finals. My big question is what happened to the San Antonio Spurs? Oh, that’s right, their up three games to two in their conference semifinal series against the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors.
I heard Mike Greenberg say the “R” word this morning, meaning rebuilding when referring to the Thunder. But if Westbrook doesn’t go down with an injury, am I even writing about the Thunder getting eliminated? Probably not. So it may be a bit premature to write off the Thunder, especially if they make a couple of key acquisitions. We’ll have to see where it goes, but I believe they still have a strong core, especially if Kevin Durant sticks around.