Tiger Caught From Behind

On ESPN’s The Sports Reporters last Sunday, Mike Lupica said that a huge hole in the résumé of Tiger Woods was that he had never come from behind at the end of three rounds to win a major tournament. Wow. It looks as if golf seeks to challenge baseball in terms of the sport with the most arcane statistics that can be dragged out of the dustbin at any given moment. Lupica went on to say that when Tiger Woods leads a major at the end of three rounds he always wins and when he trails after three rounds he always loses but this year’s US Open was set up for him to win because he should be able to catch the much less experienced leader.

That he did – on the first hole. However, from two strokes behind Tiger Woods came Angel Cabrera to catch Tiger Woods and win the whole tournament. So someone did catch Tiger Woods from behind in the final round of a major tournament last weekend – - or isn’t that the way that statistic is maintained?

One other thing about the US Open if I may. Had that been Joe Flabeetz lining up his birdie putt on the 18th hole with a chance to tie Tiger Woods and send the tournament into a playoff round and Flabeetz missed, wouldn’t more than a few of the golf poets have used the word “choke”? Just asking…

It has become standard fare during the US Open to comment on the difficulty of the course and to opine that the USGA is trying to humiliate the best golfers in the world. People say it isn’t interesting or entertaining to watch the best golfers in the world shoot 10-over par. OK, assume there is a smidgen of validity to that for a moment. Now, explain to me why it is perfectly OK for the PGA to play so many of its tournaments on “dumbed-down courses” where the light rough looks like a snooker table and the winning score is 22 under-par? If the idea is to see low scores, why not play one of those PGA tournaments on a putt-putt course and see scores in the 20s and 30s?

The USA soccer team recently beat Trinidad and Tobago in the Gold Cup. I recall that Trinidad had been in the World Cup and thought that was a good sign for the USA team. Later I read that the Trinidad team is “hampered” by a boycott of its best players who have not yet been paid their bonus money from the 2006 World Cup. For reasons that I don’t pretend to understand the soccer federation in Trinidad has withheld these payments. The Trinidad coach was refreshingly candid about all this saying, “It’s tough for me to talk about it because the federation is upset if we mention it.” I would guess that they would be upset if someone mentioned that they were sort of like “deadbeat dads”.

Georgia police want to talk to Pacman Jones. It seems as if Pacman and some friends were at a strip club – surprise, surprise – in DeKalb County and some kind of altercation developed over a young woman there. Evidently, Pacman left the club but others in his group returned around 4:00AM and shots were fired. The NFL has suspended Pacman for an entire season after a series of arrests and a shooting at a strip club in Las Vegas during the weekend of the NBA All Star Game but he could be reinstated after 10 games if he “turns his life around”. Not that Pacman Jones would listen to any advice I might have for him – or any advice from anyone else it would seem – but one good way to demonstrate that he has NOT turned his life around is to continue to go to strip clubs and become embroiled in late-night altercations involving gunshots.

In other police blotter news that should not be shocking to anyone, another Cincinnati Bengals’ player was arrested. Let’s see if any of the data in the police report ring any bells here. A group of folks were celebrating a wedding at a bar at 3:00AM. Police asked the folks to disperse after shots were fired and there may have been some underage drinking going on. The folks didn’t disperse so the police broke out the handcuffs.

    Late night alcohol enhanced revelry + gunshots = arrest.

Why is that equation so difficult for some athletes to comprehend?

You’ve probably read about the incident where Nuggets’ guard JR Smith ran a stop sign causing a traffic accident, which killed his 21-year-old friend and companion. Yesterday, I talked about the need for greater personal accountability for individual actions and choices and the antecedent actions here may point to why we need greater personal accountability. In the past year or so, JR Smith has earned five speeding tickets and has been arrested for driving with a suspended license five different times. But he was still out driving around on that fateful evening… I wonder if all of those judges who kept putting him back on the street after he clearly showed he would not restrict his driving as the law dictates feel any special remorse over this incident?

The Baltimore Orioles fired manager Sam Perlozzo. Sure, the Orioles are at the bottom of the AL East; sure they were humbled by the “next-door” Washington Nationals – never to be confused with the 1927 Yankees – in a weekend series; but, Sam Perlozzo hasn’t lost any games this year. Frankly, I don’t think that Perlozzo was a great hire in the first place and he hasn’t shown any brilliance or special talent in that job since the day he took it. But he’s not the problem with the Orioles; no one could manage that team in such a way that the team would make its way to the top of the AL East. The squad is flawed on the field and in the bullpen. Their best player, Miguel Tejada, is still hitting well (.302 batting average at the moment); but in the games I’ve seen this year his defensive skills are noticeably diminished.

Meanwhile, the LA Dodgers fired hitting coach Eddie Murray. That’s a bit strange since the Dodgers are currently 39-30 only a game and a half behind the Padres in the NL West. If the season ended today, the Dodgers would be the wild card team in the NL. Teams in that position don’t usually fire managers/coaches. There is more to this situation than meets the eye…

Finally, Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle had this comment after Lou Piniella went on his most recent tirade that got him suspended for a couple of games:

“Five careers we should be thankful Lou Piniella didn’t choose: Waiter, taxi driver, DMV clerk, Bobby Knight’s assistant, President of the United States.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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