Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Take the Field: Will Tiger win three in a row? The media is starting to buzz, and it will only get louder, that Tiger is ready to pounce. His rather un-Tigerlike play since March is an anomaly, like much of 1998-99 were for the exalted one. Bumps in the road between stretches of unparallelled greatness. They'll say "He always plays his best after a period of adversity," in order to drum up excitement about this week's U.S. Open. For who ever would watch the bloody thing if Tiger's an also ran. Well, geeks like me, for one. Of course, one golf channel is barely enough for me, so I'm probably not representative of the public at large.

Well, I'm going way out on a limb and saying it: Tiger won't win (Look at all the people down there. They look like ants.)

All right, no big deal, taking the field is easy. But all the pundits act as if you're crazy to say Tiger probably won't win, or even that the odds are against him. It's blasphemy, or at least a sign you've had one too many bowls of loudmouth soup. But the truth is, he shouldn't be the odds on favorite this week. His game is rusty from a lack of competition (other than emptying M.J.'s wallet during an Olympia Fields practice round), while his surgically repaired knee is sore from too much play. And the word's out that he hasn't been using a Nike driver for quite some time, although he still flies the swoosh headcover all over his clothing. Sounds to me like "I've been busy," "I've been hurt," and "My equipment stinks." Excuse making, in other words. Not the frame of mind needed to prevail on a tough track against an increasingly confident field.

So who will win, Mr. Bigshot. Three names:

Ernie Els - won it before, hand's had time to heal, can hit every shot

Rich Beem - starting to play well after playing in too many silly season events earlier this year, Olympia Fields is not that different from Hazeltine where he took the PGA last year

Stewart Cink - keeps popping up on major leaderboards, this dark horse could steal one from the private jet crowd

But I'd still rather take the field.

No comments: