Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Hank Haney Inteview.

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http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2010-08/hank-haney?currentPage=1

Haney did a remarkable job in regard to loyalty.

Several things stood out.

1. Tiger rarely planned ahead
2. Tiger rarely responded to phone calls or email
3. Tiger, like Phil and probably many other great players, needed to believe the idea was his, not the teacher.

Haney dodged the salary/generosity issue. 

Was Tiger generous with you? Did he express his appreciation to you in unusual ways, such as signing flags for you or dropping you notes?

Generosity is relative. It was generous of him to give me the job. I don't have anything signed by Tiger, no. Not one thing.

Did Tiger pay you well?

I don't want to answer that. There's no reason for me to go there.


There has been mention in the past decade of how "tight" Tiger is with a buck. The manner in which Haney responded leads me to believe that there is a mixture of disappointment and surprise.

I thought Haney was candid and kind. Very hard to do.

And really, there's nothing revealed that we didn't already sense. Tiger Woods is a self-absorbed genius, who at this point in his life, might be too self-absorbed to have an honest relationship. Even his caddy is kept at a distance

Tiger's "mistake" in regard to the scandal was living his life as a single person, while married and the father of two kids. Tiger, like most unmarried men, lived in the sperm of the moment. And, obviously, he liked variety. After the divorce, he can go back to that. Or not.

I am disappointed that the scandal happened, not so much from a morality high horse, but rather what it did to golf, and my naive belief in what I was being told.  The interview with Haney makes it almost impossible for me to trust anything that Tiger Woods says that does not involve what I can see for myself.

Let me just say that what I am writing is more about my concern for Tiger Woods as a person, and how those concerns might relate to Tiger Woods as a phenomenon. Don't get me wrong. I am still pulling for him. Mostly because his talent transcends sport and time. I want to be a witness to this excellence. This, of course, gets us back to swing mechanics and personality.

I believe the logic of the swing will dictate.

As for personality, it really doesn't matter to me, but for Tiger's sake, I wish for him to begin to see the world as more than a planet of one. He seems to be in solitary, and yes, it is the world's most lavish form of solitary, but it is still being alone. I'm sure he has companions that serve his needs, but like a cell phone or a computer, once the function is completed, you turn them off or put them away. Or when they break or you get tired of them, they are disposable. This is a pathetic, cold existence.

Generosity of spirit, time and even material things seems to be a foreign concept.

Tiger Woods is not the only self-absorbed athlete or public figure, but he IS the only one that I give a shit about.  Some might say that Tiger Woods must be that way to be Tiger Woods. I'm not convinced about that. I do agree that to get to his level it requires an enormous amount of concentration and hard work. It's the down time that could be tweaked, and tweaked in a manner that would not deprive but rather would serve to create and possibly enhance.

I recall reading a vignette about one day at a putting green where Tiger and Sean O'Hair happened to be practicing. Tiger watched and then gave Sean a mini lesson, which helped him immensely.  Whatever instinct triggered that moment is lurking in Tiger's psyche. I hope he finds it again.

Some would say what about his charity work? I think that is the least he can do. Besides, we know that his mother is the hammer to that nail, and just as importantly, the charities help cut the annual IRS bill, which must cause Tiger to go to his deepest bunker and sob like Midas on tax day.

It would be ideal for Tiger Woods to work as a waiter in a mid-level restaurant. I doubt he has any concept at all of what that horrid job requires.  Or some form of community service to actually get a sense of how the world really works. He has the knowledge, of course, but, perhaps, lacks the empathy. People can tell you a lot of things, but it's just triplicate yada until it either happens to you, or you see it for yourself.

I don't think Tiger owes me, his fans, or the media anything. I believe that Tiger can do and say what he wants to the media, because the media has attacked him for six months. Screw the media. Figuratively, that is.

But Tiger Woods does owe it himself, and perhaps to his parents, to abandon the role of the spoiled prince, and evolve into a benevolent king .... a person that generates warmth and kindness, rather than just awe.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Carolina Dreaming

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There's a front passing through just before dawn, shoving clouds gradually to the east and out to sea. The last of the night creatures disappears as the uncertain dark turns gray.

The first hint of the sun reveals a favorite sky. Yeah, it's light blue, and for Tar Heels, it's all for you.

Random selections from an iPod boom box enhance this vision.

I see a line of cars, and they're all painted black.

When I'm dancing on the web, and the man comes on the message board, telling me more and more useless information. I don't want no. I can't get no.

Cause i used to wake the morning, get my breakfast in bed. Sugar pie honey bunch.

Unlike the Stones, we have expectations, and not just about the weather. We know that sometimes we can't get what we want. But what else can a poor boy do? Pump the gas, gas, gas?

Been walking Central Park. People say we're crazy. But if you start us up, we'll never stop ... looking to the juke box for answers.

There's a fan base going crazy on Caroline Street.

Insane is more like it. Bickering, badgering, taunting, and that's just on message boards. Jealousy sparks some of this rancor, as does entitlement. Some of it about the Pied Piper. Some of it is about the rats, their smug hair-dye and lies.

But a front is passing through. Maybe the storm is over. Maybe a new one is on the way. Go ask Alice when she's feeling real tall.

For now, it's simply a matter of waiting. We get our first hint of what is to be in August. A trip to the Bahamas.

We got to head this boat south pretty soon.
Last season is old, and we're fresh out of prunes.

Down on Copperline, things are pretty much the same. Yeah, they came in and tore it up, tore it up good. But it doesn't touch our memory.

I'm cruising Franklin with my feet 10 feet off the ground.
Saw the ghost of Jordan on Columbia Avenue
Ain't it like a friend of mine, to hit me from behind?
Miles from nowhere, guess he'll take his time.

Dreaming with eyes open.
Seeing with eyes closed.
There's red dust on the horizon,
and a silver tear in the eye

It's not light yet, but it's getting there.
All we need is love. (And better shooting.)

There's guns across the river, aiming at you.
There's a fool on the hill with the will to thrill.

Oh momma, can this really be the end?
To be stuck inside the twilight zone, with the NCAA blues again?

Did someone say zone? This MUST be a dream.

It's getting near dawn. Working on mysteries without any clues.
Ain't it funny how the night moves.

Carolina.
Calling me home.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ha!

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Saturday's third round at the U.S. Open was riveting. Tiger Woods played like Old Tiger. Dustin Johnson emerged as a force.

 Great stuff.

Yesterday I suggested that Tiger Woods was in a phase of transition. Perhaps we are closer to The Second Tiger Woods Era than I thought.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Five Words

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Perhaps what follows will be fodder for the graveyard of dead horses, a cemetery that blends moot comments and memories to mark the headstones.

As we meander into the golf area past fresh flowers that have been placed near Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and take a left at those that honor Sam Snead, we see a small stone with 5 words: The First Tiger Woods Era.

Today i am metaphorically wearing a black arm band that I should have put on that first Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2009. I should have honored and mourned this passing then. But what did i know? I still believed in Superman, despite the obvious fact that Superman had inhaled Kryptonite.

It was an amazing journey that we thought might last until 2020. But self-absorbed circumstance derailed that train.

We can, though, look back and recall the first victory at The Masters, which in every way imaginable put golf business on a fast track that added an even faster lane after 2000. What we saw in 2000, particularly at Pebble, was almost too incredible to believe.

The adventure at Hoylake was one of my favorite episodes, because Tiger carved that place apart with a 3-iron. I doubt I have seen anyone hit long irons so well for four days in a major. The various scenes and episodes of The First Tiger Woods Era are rich and compelling. Each golf fan, no doubt, has personal favorites. Most of us assumed that with the marriage and then the kids that Tiger was literally finding and following Jack's footprints.

What happened last Thanksgiving was a shocking reminder that even a man who has the world by the throat can take a very wrong turn. I believe what we most golf fans share is that we miss watching an excellent player chase his potential. I know I keep turning on the TV with the hope that I will see that player again.

I haven't.

I have seen some progress in several areas, but I have not seen that player. I have seen Eldrick Woods chase his former self, but Eldrick, unlike Tiger, is not wearing Fast Track Nikes. Instead, he's got a pair of 100-pound anvils with a swoosh. Yes, the heavy weight means he's grounded, and that's the first step. But you can't fly with 200 pounds of cement socks.

Genius eyes tell us the golf swing is not close, and why would they lie? The results speak for themselves.  Eldrick is hanging onto the raft like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. The shipwreck has happened, and it's just a matter of time before Eldrick either hauls himself out of the water or simply lets go.

I don't think he'll let go. But i also believe that it will be a good while before he pulls himself out of the water.

What we have now is the transition. It's a process that resembles work on a jigsaw puzzle outside during a hurricane. You think you've got the pieces put together, and another blast of wind scatters what has been accomplished. The exercise begins again. Something has been gained, but time has been lost.

Everyone who is watching this drama, as well as the lead character, is seeking answers.

How long is this transition going to take?

How will The Second Tiger Woods Era be defined?

When will we see the twirl?


I would love to see a twirl or two later today during the third round of the U.S. Open, but I'm not counting on it. I think victory for Eldrick is playing all four rounds. It may take a dismal season for even Tiger Woods to come to the conclusion that he can't fix his swing by himself.

Jack revealed some of his arrogance when he said it was a fix that could happen in 20 minutes. That was bullshit. My view is that part of the "fix" for the golf swing is also tied to the "fix' for Eldrick's private life, which I don't think is "close" to being resolved.

The end game has been determined, but not the amount or the rules. Until that is resolved, I don't think Eldrick (or anyone) can find the inner balance that this particular enterprise requires.

All of us at our various levels understand how impossible golf can be even when we are at our most centered. I don't believe Eldrick has been near his center since last summer, and that's another irony for someone who craves being the center of attention.

But unlike Arnie or Jack, and now Phil, Eldrick doesn't truly connect with the fans. At one time, wherever Eldrick played it was a home game. The massive gallery was FOR HIM. I know Eldrick could use the help these days.

I admit that I am still very much for Eldirck, but I miss watching Tiger.

Don't you?
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Solstice

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The planet keeps spinning despite our efforts, while tragic omens continue to flood the Gulf Coast. It is clear that oil is our country's version of wax wings, and like Icarus, we continue to fly toward the sun.

This has become a situation impossible to excuse or ignore. Even Fox News must man-and-woman up, though they will do this kicking and screaming their various Murdockian versions of reality.

The stock market remains volatile, and the Lakers have claimed the first game in the NBA Playoffs.

Speaking of basketball and Earth's annual path, we are weeks away from the longest day, and perhaps, we are also on the verge of recovering from the longest winter in recent memory in Chapel Hill.

The latest rumor is that James McAdoo will enroll at UNC a year early, and for what has been an horrendous five-month news cycle, this development is almost too good to be true. The Wears behaved like spoiled Little Leaguers, as did their father. The timing of the departure could not have been worse, and only fools believe that Roy orchestrated their decision to not return.

SweetD77 posted a thread on Inside Carolina thanking Dave Wear. I thought that was a tad over the top because we have yet to receive confirmation that we will have both Knox and McAdoo. Others believed this to be a "non-classy" post. I thought SweetD's defense was perfect. In essence he was thanking Dave Wear for the lemons that Roy is about to turn into lemonade.

Let's say that McAdoo does enroll early. We are back to the issue that we've been facing since Lawson declared for the draft. This season Roy has three options. Drew, Marshall and Strickland.

Here is what I hope happens. Roy truly allows the better and more consistent player to take control of the team. I am all about what is best for the team this year and in the bigger picture. I would love to see some new warriors emerge this season. Those roles are wide open.

Also, it would be sublime to see a few shots go into the basket. Our shots.

As for the Wears, they left, and Roy dealt with that departure. Honestly, i thought it was a mistake they were here in the first place despite the belief that when they were seniors, they would be quite important. I thought that at times both Wears proved how capable they could be, despite having what I could call horrid shooting technique. Neither performed on defense as well as I'd hoped, but that was a team thing, too.

As for Drew, many of us believe he is capable of becoming a solid player. I think his father  and who is father is,  is a huge negative. Drew needs to play with the kind of enthusiasm that a white player would have if selected to join a pickup game in a black neighborhood. Play with something to prove, at least to yourself. Play with heart. And by all means, hustle your ass off.

I believe a fair criticism of Drew is that he seems too nonchalant, way too California, and that he comes and goes on defense in the manner of a poorly wired light. This must stop if we (the team) is to experience sustained success.

Another issue is that Drew needs to realize there is only one head coach at UNC. And that his last name is not Drew.

As for the team as a whole, the first step is to play an entire half with focus. That might seem snarky, but it is quite true. Last season, we managed a few spurts of 5 minutes or so, but never a half, and thus, nothing close to a complete game.  The game in Winston-Salem came as close to a complete game as we could probably get last year.

Play with heart. Play like Tar Heels. No, that's not quite accurate. Don't play like a Tar Heel. Be a Tar Heel.

What can we expect? Hard to say until we know exactly who is and who is not on the roster. And even more importantly, until we can gauge the off-season growth of our returning players, and get a sense of what the newcomers will actually be able to contribute.

What about hope?

The return to The Carolina Way, as we have known it. A team that thrives on sharing the ball and helping each other on defense. A team that is focused and is fun to watch as it grows into itself.

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