Tiger Woods: Accusations of HGH Use Are Reckless, To Say The Least

December 17, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… Tiger Woods was visited by a doctor who is now under investigation for possibly providing performance enhancing drugs to professional athletes.

Let’s indict Woods right now.

After we do that, let’s ban him from professional golf forever and erase his major championship victories from the record books.  After all, guilt by very slim association is more than enough to not only accuse, but make our ultimate decision of guilt these days.

Woods cheated on his wife, so he must have cheated in every other aspect of his life, right?

Just like a stockbroker who got divorced for cheating on his wife must be involved in insider trading, right?

Or that married baseball umpire who takes part in some “extracurricular” activities while on the road must be involved in an intricate baseball gambling ring, right?

Or that guy who cheated his way through high school chemistry must now be cheating on his wife with numerous cocktail waitresses, right?

Folks, despite what our gossip-hungry society deems acceptable these days, or the virtual collapse we’ve seen in journalistic integrity over the past month, accusing or implying guilt based on nonexistent evidence is not only reckless, but downright wrong.

What do we know about this current situation with Woods and the doc?

Woods was visited by a Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea, who is a pioneer of a now widely-accepted procedure known as blood-spinning.  The procedure is FDA-approved, and one that many athletes across many different sports have received.

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, claims that the visits by Galea to Woods’ home in Windermere, Florida during late 2008 were for the purpose of giving Woods blood-spinning treatments to assist in his recovery from knee surgery.

Again, something done by many professional athletes as well as 55-year-old-men suffering from tennis elbow.

Maybe you believe that account of what took place in Woods’ home—or maybe you don’t—but we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever to warrant leaning in one direction or the other.

A handful of NFL players and Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres have also been linked to Galea.

If this doctor was some kind of “PED dealer,” do you not think that the Olympic drug testing procedure—which is the most stringent and inclusive testing procedure in all of sports—or the NFL’s notably strict testing procedure would have picked up on these athletes’ use of HGH or other PEDs?

Unless Dara Torres had a twin sister that went into the doctor’s office in Beijing to take her blood test during the 2008 Olympic Games, there’s not a chance in the world that she could have snuck HGH usage past the Olympic drug testers.

Another widely accepted view these days is that because an athlete becomes more muscular, he must be using some form of PEDs.

First of all, if you see Tiger Woods in person, he’s not as big as he looks on television.  He’s muscular and well-defined, for sure, but far from warranting comparisons to NFL linebackers.  At best, maybe he resembles a defensive back.

Second of all, Woods didn’t leave for the offseason one November looking like Steve Urkel and come back the next January looking like Barry Bonds.

His transformation was gradual over a period of years, which is what could be expected of any young man beginning to fill out during his 20s, and particularly one who has been described by many of his peers as a “workout fiend.”

He’s not alone amongst PGA Tour professionals in adding muscle mass over the past five or ten years. Golf is a much different game today than it was 40 years ago.

Phil Mickelson went into the 2007 offseason as a pudgy bowl of jelly and came back in early 2008 with bulging biceps, no neck, and no stomach to speak of.

Sergio Garcia is significantly more muscular, and well-defined today than he was five years ago.

Camilo Villegas went from skin and bones to looking like a bodybuilder in a just few short years.

Padraig Harrington is noticeably more muscular today than he was just a few years ago.

Dustin Johnson is beginning to look like an NFL “linebacker” himself these days.

And the list goes on and on and on.

So, making assumptions and accusations based almost solely on an individual’s body transformation is using trivial, and more or less irrelevant, criterion on which to base implications of guilt.

Maybe Tiger Woods, Dana Torres and a handful of NFL players were receiving HGH or other PEDS from Galea.

No one has any idea—which is precisely why accusing or even implying guilt is a reckless thing to do at this point.

But then again, when Tiger Woods brought down that fire hydrant on November 27th, he may have also brought down any remaining journalistic integrity we had left.

Why Accenture’s Decision To Drop Tiger Woods Is a Bad One

December 15, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… Here in North America, when it comes to our athletes and celebrities, we love three things more than anything else.

1) We love to create heroes.

2) We love to see our heroes fall from grace.

3) We love a good comeback story.

Anyone who has ever taken an introductory business class will know that the long-term success of any business relies heavily in its leader’s ability to see the big picture.

Making intelligent decisions in the business world requires a level head.  Getting caught up in the moment or trying to make a quick buck will often land you in a disastrous situation.  Just ask Freddie Mac, Frannie May, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Sterns.

For that reason, it’s extremely surprising that Accenture’s “experts” have allowed themselves to get caught up in the current “Tigermania,” and have decided to end their sponsorship deal with Tiger Woods.

In case you didn’t know, Accenture is a consulting company, who’s core business is to help others companies make better decisions.

Accenture’s website is infested with words such as “Durable”, “Sustainability”, “Long-Term”, “Relationships,” and many other terms targeted toward making potential clients believe that Accenture can help them make decisions to improve their company’s long-term success and profitability.

“We help clients improve performance for long-term success and competitive superiority that incorporates sustainability as both a driver and an outcome,” is a sentence that appears on the front of Accenture’s “Sustainability Consulting” web page.

Some of their advertising slogans during the “Tiger Woods years” were, “Why high performers shine even when the sun doesn’t,” and “At a time when it’s tougher than ever to be a Tiger, it’s important to know what it takes.”

How ironic.

What will their new slogan be?

“At a time when it’s tougher than ever to be a Tiger…run ?”

Needless to say, Tiger Woods is in the middle of the biggest scandal to hit the sports world since, well, the last one.  Was it Alex Rodriguez, Ray Lewis, Andy Petite, Kobe Bryant, Marv Albert, or another?

It’s so difficult these days to remember which “huge” scandal was the last one the general public has moved on from and all but forgotten about.

No one has any idea how long Tiger’s “indefinite” leave will last.

Maybe he’ll show up at the 2010 Masters.

Maybe the 2010 US Open.

Maybe he won’t be seen until the 2011 Masters.

Who knows.

But one thing is fairly certain.  Woods will return at some point, and when he does, unless Rickie Fowler has won three consecutive majors and established himself as the next Tiger Woods, there’s little reason to believe that Woods will not continue to dominate the PGA Tour for many years to come.

This is the same guy who didn’t touch a golf club for six months while recovering from reconstructive ACL surgery and came out and won six events in 2009.

For companies like Gatorade or Gillette, dropping Tiger Woods isn’t the biggest deal in the world.

After all, how many people really bought Gillette razors or shaving cream because they thought Tiger Woods used the same brand?

A consulting company, on the other hand, is hired by top-level executives to “consult” on various aspects of business such as risk management, crisis management, strategy, sustainability, and relationships.

Let’s look at one scenario Accenture may face as a result of their decision to drop Woods’s sponsorship deal.

Tiger Woods makes his much anticipated return at the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach.  Every newspaper, television station, gossip magazine, and website in the world is there to cover Woods’s every move.

Woods looks like a new person.

He looks happy for the first time in years.

He is more appreciative of the fans and he’s more accommodating to the media.

Woods goes out and completely decimates the field at Pebble Beach, and after sinking his final putt on the 72nd hole to win by eight-strokes, his daughter comes running out onto the green to give him a hug, followed immediately by his wife, Elin who is holding their son, Charlie, in her arms.

Throughout the course of the week, those fans who were skeptical at first have now jumped aboard the comeback bandwagon.

After all, everyone loves a good comeback story.

As Woods celebrates with his family on the 18th green, the noise from the crowd reaches a deafening pitch while Woods begins to walk off the green with tears in his eyes.

It would be the biggest comeback story in golf since Ben Hogan overcame his run-in with the Greyhound Bus to win the 1950 US Open.

Now, imagine this entire series of events taking place while Tiger is wearing a very large “IBM Business Consulting” logo on his sleeve.

Maybe Accenture attempted to jump back aboard “Brand Tiger” when it heard that he was making a comeback and was hitting the ball as well as ever.  But, the company quickly realized that Woods has an ego the size of Mt. Everest, can hold a decade-long grudge, and has more than enough “go to hell money.”

In the months proceeding Accenture’s impulsive decision to drop Woods, IBM had moved in and handed Woods a multi-million dollar deal.

And now IBM is ready to cash in on that deal.

Woods would more than likely appear in a series of national television commercials saying, “While others failed to properly manage their risk and were quick to make rash decisions in my time of need, IBM Business Consulting demonstrated its foresight and ability to see the big picture.  I’m happy to be associated with IBM, and if you want a company to help you through the tough times, there’s no better choice than IBM.”

How is Accenture—a consulting company that is hired by many to help others make decisions—possibly going to counter this?

Would you hire a consulting company who made an irrational, spur-of-the-moment decision on the worldwide stage, and that decision wound up completely back-firing on them?

Now, there is also the possibility that Woods may never be the same player again, in which case Accenture’s decision to cut ties with Woods will have been a smart one.

But after all we’ve seen from Woods over the years, are Accenture’s “risk management” experts really banking their company’s reputation on this guy not making some kind of a dramatic comeback?

Are they really banking their company’s reputation on Woods not overcoming this embarrassing scandal in the same way that every other public figure in recent memory has been able to do?

Would you want these guys managing your company’s risk?

Me neither.

What History Can Tell Us About Tiger Woods’ Future

December 10, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… Our political leaders can’t seem to do it.

Military leaders have never been able to do it.

Business leaders continually make the same mistakes over and over.

Maybe at least we sports fans can do something that the human race as a whole seems to have an unbelievably difficult time doing.

Maybe, just maybe, we can learn something from history.

Tiger Woods.

That single name typed into Google will literally bring back an endless number of news reports about affairs, mistresses, car accidents, 911 calls, overdoses and so-called ‘details’ of his pre-nupt.

Tiger Woods is indeed the biggest story in America right now, which considering the fact that we are in the midst of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression and tens of thousands of troops are on their way off to war, is a quite ridiculous and downright frightening thought.

We can never seem to escape that tendency to get caught in the moment.

A few large companies collapse and the President immediately dishes out billions of dollars so quickly that he forgets to tie any regulations to these massive bailout payments.

A baseball player goes 0-for-15, and every television and radio station in town is talking about how he should be traded immediately.

Right now, it seems as if the Tiger Woods story will never go away.  It is HUGE news and EVERYONE is interested in it.

Some are discussing whether or not Tiger’s sponsors will drop him.

Some are discussing whether or not he will ever be the same player again.

Some are discussing how this embarrassing incident could be “the end” of Tiger Woods.

Some are even questioning whether or not he will ever step foot back onto a golf course again.

Folks, let’s all just take a deep breath and relax.

Ok.

Now that you are relaxed, take a step back from this massive, all-encompassing story and think about recent history and the long-term outlook.

If you are having trouble doing so, here are a few examples.

Exhibit A: Bill Clinton

When Bill Clinton was impeached for having an affair in the White House and then lying about it under oath, it was the biggest scandal to hit this country since Watergate.

Just to put this incident into historical perspective – Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson are the only two Presidents in the history of our country to be impeached.

People were discussing how Clinton was a complete embarrassment to our country.

He should resign immediately.

He is and always will be a complete disgrace.

It was huge news at the time, and his approval rating went through the floor.

Where is he now?

Clinton is extremely well-respected by most of the general public.  At the Presidents Cup he received standing ovations everywhere he went.  What he says these days seems to be valued by the public and hold more weight than what the sitting president says.

In essence, this whole massive, end-of-the-world incident slowly lost steam, and he has come out of it virtually – not completely, but virtually – unscathed.

Exhibit B: Kobe Bryant

When Kobe was on trial for rape, it was the biggest scandal since, well, Bill Clinton’s White House affair.

Thousand gathered outside of the court house in Colorado to verbally display their disapproval with Kobe’s actions.

The media was talking about how he may never be the same player again.

He would be heckled by his own fans.

This might by the one incident that would end his reign of dominance in the NBA.

Where is he now?

Within less than a year, Kobe was right back to where he was before the incident, and today, coming off last season’s championship, he might be more respected than at any other time during his career.

Exhibit C: Alex Rodriguez

Affairs, steroids, internal riffs with Derek Jeter…oh my!

This guy couldn’t get a sponsorship or advertising deal in New York to save his life at the start of the 2009 season.

The Yankees should trade him.

He’s more trouble than he’s worth.

His steroid use and altogether conceded attitude is a disgrace to our national pastime.

It wouldn’t have been at all surprising to see a mob of angry New Yorkers running towards Yankee stadium with their pitchforks drawn in search of A-Rod.

Where is he now?

Upon winning the 2009 World Series, A-Rod is now looked upon as the new King of New York.

Fans at the ticker-tape parade were cheering for A-Rod louder than any other player who came down the Cannon of Heroes.

Right now, he is more or less a sports hero in New York.

You see, these scandals and incidents inevitably go away.  They have been for decades and there is nothing at all to suggest that they won’t continue disappearing with the passage of time.

In a few weeks another juicy gossip story will come out, and most of the public will all but forget the Tiger Woods scandal.

Two years from now, after Woods has won a number of golf tournaments, this situation will have evolved into one of those “Hey, you remember when Tiger Woods had those affairs a few years back?  Is he still with his wife these days?”

The only possible way that this thing isn’t going away with the passage of time is if Tiger Woods is never the same player again.

If Woods comes back next year and can’t hit the broad side of a barn with his putter and winds up never winning another major championship, then yes, Tiger Woods will forever be associated with this embarrassing incident.  It will indeed mark his ultimate downfall.

But if he continues to win, there is nothing at all to suggest that Tiger Woods’ name won’t appear right alongside of Bill Clinton, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and other public figures who overcame embarrassing scandals.

Maybe at least some form of a ‘womanizer’ stigma will follow him around for the rest of his career.

But to suggest that for some reason this scandal won’t pass like all the others is being naïve and is a clear example of how we can so easily get caught up in the moment.

You see, what it ultimately boils down to is that we the public are more interested in scandals than anything else.

Once Woods’ name leaves the headlines and a new scandal surfaces such as “Brad goes behind Angelina’s back and has an affair”, the public while dive head first into this next ‘HUGE’, ‘EARTH-SHATTERING’ scandal and Woods will be old news.

It’s just the way it is and always has been.

And if you don’t think that’s true, you should probably add your name alongside all those politicians and business executives who are to this very day still incapable of learning a darn thing from history.

A Tiger Woods Pre-Nup Complete with Performance-Based Incentives

December 5, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… The gossip wheel keeps on spinning, and the story keeps on getting more bizarre.

The latest news out of the Playboy Mansion, sorry, Tiger Woods’ Windermere home is that he and his wife, Elin Nordegren, are now renegotiating their prenup.

Like everything else surrounding this story, the details are unknown, and the degree of speculation varies greatly depending upon which “Tiger Woods” story on the Internet you happen to click on.

However, most seem to be reporting the same general information—Woods will be forced to give Elin seven figures now (reports range from $1 million to $5 million to $8 million) before she even considers staying, and then a much larger sum of money if she sticks around for the next 24 months (reports range from $20 million to $30 million to $55 million).

Now, go back and read that last sentence one more time.

Is anyone else picking up on just how ridiculous this little arrangement sounds?

What does it say about Tiger Woods’ obsession with image that he’s willing to shell out as much as $55 million just to keep his “family” image together for another two years?

What does it say about Elin Nordegren that she is only willing to consider patching things up with the father of her children if there is money involved?

What does it say about this marriage when a lawyer is called in long before a marriage counselor?

Elin Nordegren might need to bring in Scott Boras to negotiate her terms, while Tiger Woods might consult George Steinbrenner on just how high he should go.

Now, no one is to blame for this mess other than Woods and his numerous “transgressions” with cocktail waitresses.

However, it sounds as if everyone involved in this has now gone off the deep end.

If you want to patch things up, sit down like normal human beings—which despite her good looks, and his ability to hit a golf ball, they still are—and work on your marriage.

If you both feel as if the past is too much to overcome—which would be completely understandable considering the fact that the “transgression” count is currently at three and counting—come to some kind of financial agreement and go your separate ways.

Yes, there are children involved, and they are going to be the ultimate victims here.

But what is a better situation for them?

Their parents couldn’t resolve their differences so they went their separate ways and are now living happy, healthy lives, or Mom has a $20 million a year contract to live under the same roof as us…and Dad is the one paying her.

Celebrities and billionaires are kooky; we have known that since Howard Hughes began locking himself in hotels rooms and peeing in glass jars.

But my goodness, a new prenup that contains all sorts of contract incentives?

What else would be built into this deal?

For every future “transgression” Woods commits he will be required to pay Elin $20 million?

Each time Elin chases him with a golf club she’ll be fined $2 million?

Elin will earn $10 million per year for the next two years, with an option for Tiger to pick up a third year at $15 million?

Do these people have no one in their lives that can look them in the eye and say “You two have gone off the deep end. Get it together. You are two human beings, for goodness sakes?”

Evidently not.

Tiger Woods vows to keep pants on, get it right

December 3, 2009

by Jeremy Visser… So it appears Tiger Woods isn’t perfect after all. The golfer and “serious” car crash victim (or serious club-to-the-face victim) released the following statement today in response to all the talk of his tendency to remove his pants around women other than his wife:

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it’s difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.

Okay, so Eldrick isn’t perfect. Nobody is. Credit to him for admitting he screwed up. Now if I’m him, I go work things out with Elin. I’m not perfect either, but I’m not dumb enough to let a hot Swedish nanny like that get away.

What the Tiger Woods Incident Can Teach Us About Our Society

December 2, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick…  Why do we really want Tiger Woods to come clean?

We’ve all read the numerous articles virtually begging Tiger Woods to come clean, but why?

What is really fueling our desire to find out exactly what happened outside of Tiger Woods’ private home at 2:30 am last Friday morning?

Are we concerned that he’s gotten away with a crime?

Not likely.

He hit a fire hydrant and a tree on private property.  The only person injured in the incident was Tiger Woods (the fire hydrant got banged up to).  In fact, the police have already issued him a citation for careless driving and closed the case.

So legally speaking, it’s a done, finished, finito.  The exact same punishment would have been handed down to any one of us had we been in the same situation.

Are we concerned that he’s making a huge PR mistake and that his sponsors might jump ship?

Well, no.  First of all, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will lose any sleep over whether or not Tiger Woods’ sponsors decide to drop him.

Second of all, his sponsors have already publicly affirmed that the statement Woods released through his website was good enough for them.

In fact, just this week, Bank of America decided to pursue a larger role in the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Sounds like this whole incident has really rattled the world of corporate sponsorships…not really.

Are we angry that we bought that $6 bottle of Gillette shaving cream because Tiger Woods promoted it and now we feel as if we deserve answers from him?

If that’s the case, you might want to seek some professional help.

Let’s be completely honest here. No one is going to go out tomorrow and purchase Old Spice shaving cream instead of Gillette just because Tiger Woods won’t tell us why he crashed into a fire hydrant.

Are we angry because we spent $30,000 on a Buick Enclave last year because we thought Tiger Woods drove the same car and now we feel entitled to know what happened outside his house at 2:30 am last Friday?

Once again…the professional help thing might be looking pretty good if that’s the case.

The fact of the matter is that Tiger Woods hurt no one but himself—and a fire hydrant— during the car accident.  He did not commit a crime other than careless driving, which he has been issued a citation for.  His sponsors have publicly stated their support for Woods and the way in which he handled the situation. Even a new sponsor has decided to come on board with the Tiger Woods Brand since the incident took place.

So, why does he need to come clean?

Well, the answer to that question is simple.

It’s the same reason why when we overhear a couple arguing on the train, we can’t help but eavesdrop.

It’s the same reason why when Nick Lachhey and Jessica Simpson allowed cameras into their home, Newlyweds became one of the most successful shows in MTV history.

It’s the same reason why US Weekly and People Magazine are two of the best selling magazines in the country.

It’s the same reason why every single night at around dinner time channels two, four, five, and seven are airing celebrity gossip shows such as Entertainment Tonight , Entertainment Weekly, and E! News .

The reason is because we, the public, are nosey.

It’s plain and simple.

No one ever wants to be painted with the “nosey” brush; our society typically views it as a negative trait.  Yet our intense desire to know what happened outside of Tiger Woods’ home at 2:30 am last Friday is what is ultimately fueling all the talk about how “Tiger needs to come clean” and “Tiger needs to tell everyone what happened.”

It’s for no reason other than we are just desperate to know.

Now, not to rain on anyone’s gossip parade, but there are only two people who truly know what went down last Friday—Tiger Woods and his wife—and neither of them are going to be sitting for a tell all interview anytime soon.

So, as much as it rips at our gossip seeking guts, it is unlikely that Tiger, his wife, or anyone else will decide to feed the wolves on this occasion.

Love it, hate it, or never really cared about the story in the first place, it makes no bit of difference.

No amount of interest, curiosity, or nosiness is going to change a thing.

His current sponsors aren’t going anywhere. New sponsors will continue jumping on board the “Tiger Woods brand,” he’ll continue winning golf tournaments, and six years from now he’ll probably be worth $2 billion.

As sports’ most popular saying goes—it is what it is.

Why Everyone Wants Tiger Woods to Come Clean, and Why He Won’t

December 1, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… “Tiger Woods needs to come clean.”

“Tiger Woods needs to explain exactly what happened on Friday morning and set the record straight.”

“Tiger Woods needs to explain everything right now.”

These are all phrases that you will see written in virtually every article about Tiger Woods and the incident that took place outside of his home at 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning.

But what you have to understand is that the general public, along with the many journalists who are taking this point of view, are not doing so without bias.

Tiger Woods doesn’t need to do anything.

On the contrary. We, the public, as well as the media, are desperately hoping for Woods to come clean and explain everything. It would provide a very entertaining story, and, at the end of the day, entertainment is what everyone is really after here.

No one cares about how Woods’ car managed to roll over a fire hydrant, or what hospital he was taken to, or the extent of his injuries.

Nope—we are concerned with one thing and one thing only: Was his wife, Elin, chasing him down with a 5-iron at the time of the accident?

From a public standpoint, we all want the juicy details of exactly what went down on Friday morning.

However, let’s just for a moment step back and explore the big picture from a PR standpoint.

What is more interesting and entertaining, staring at a blank wall or watching television?

Right now, Tiger Woods is the equivalent of staring at a wall.

There is a complete lack of information coming out of the Woods’ camp, and there is unlikely to be any further information released anytime soon, if at all.

We also now know that Woods is not legally required to speak with the police. All he is required to do is hand over his license, registration, and insurance information, which he did yesterday afternoon through his lawyer.

So, if you have had any aspiration of reading all the juicy details in a police report, think again.

Considering the fact that he was in and out of consciousness for at least six minutes immediately following the accident, it’s safe to say that Woods probably suffered a concussion and will not attend his tournament—The Chevron World Challenge—this week.

That basically means that we will not see or hear from Woods until he shows up at Torrey Pines in late January for the former Buick Invitational (now the Century Club of San Diego Invitational).

Can you remember the “big news” from two months ago?

That makes two of us.

And many of those stories two months ago would have certainly been viewed as HUGE news at the time.

When Woods shows up at Torrey Pines in two months, he will respond to questions with well-rehearsed, detail-less answers…once again, the equivalent of staring at a blank wall.

Woods lives in an airtight cocoon that he has spent years constructing to insulate and protect himself from the outside world.

This cocoon is unlikely to crack or spring a leak any time soon.

So, he has two choices.

He can come completely clean about what might be a very embarrassing truth, or he can turn himself into a blank wall.

We, the public, would love nothing more than for him to come clean. It would give us something interesting to read and follow.

When people read newspaper articles, Internet articles, or watch news reports on the “Tiger Woods incident,” they do so because they are after some new information that may provide them with some form of entertainment.

How entertaining is it going to be to read articles for the next two months that say, “nothing further from the Woods camp” or “Tiger Woods was not seen again today.”

That’s not interesting, nor is it entertaining. It is, in essence, the equivalent of staring at a blank wall.

And as we all know, people will eventually get bored of staring at a wall, and decide to turn on the television and see what else is going on.

Maybe Woods is hiding something; maybe he isn’t. Needless to say, there are some not-so-small question marks surrounding the initial “accident” story.

But, whatever the case, it’s unlikely that he will provide us with the information we’re all so desperately craving, and that often frustrates the heck out of the media and the general public.

Woods is creating a nightmare scenario for the media and general public; he’s not giving us exactly what we want.

But are you prepared to stare at a blank wall for the next two months?

Me neither.

Looks Like Tiger’s Wife Swings The Golf Clubs In That Relationship

December 1, 2009

by Jeremy Visser… As expected, plenty of developments in the Tiger Woods incident. By now, it’s pretty clear this wasn’t a “serious accident” — well, unless you consider Woods’ wife beating his face to be just that. According to police, Woods and his Swedish nanny wife Elin Nordegren were involved in a domestic dispute before Woods left at 2:30 am Friday, only to crash his Escalade into a fire hydrant on his way off his property.

There were red flags all over this story to begin with. For one, the details of the crash were sketchy from the beginning: It wasn’t reported until more than 12 hours after it occurred and came on the heels of rumors of Tiger’s racy affair with “New York party girl”. Also, how exactly do you suffer serious injuries from hitting a fire hydrant at less than 33 miles per hour, as Woods would’ve had to have been going for the airbags not to have been deployed in his SUV? Well, all that stuff is out the window now, because the initial severity of the accident was now certainly just a cover.

With every report popping up, it’s becoming pretty evident Tiger’s “facial lacerations” came from a run-in with Nordegren, after which it looks he left his house, was chased by his wife who smashed the back window of his Escalade as he drove right into a fire hydrant. That’s the way I see it. Case closed. I should have my own TV show.

Anyway, I’m sure we’re far from hearing the last of this story. Should be interesting to see what Woods’ next move is. With trillions of dollars in endorsement money on the line, he’s gonna have to address it sooner rather than later.

Anthony Kim, Robert Allenby, and Golf’s New Rivalry

November 3, 2009

by Michael Fitzpatrick… Well, maybe “rivalry” isn’t the best word to use when describing the tumultuous relationship between Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby.

After all, the word “rivalry” implies that these two players have been involved in some form of heated competition on the golf course.

The only heat involved in this competition has been in the form of hot air flowing from each player’s mouth.

Immediately following his 5-and-3 loss to Kim three weeks ago at the Presidents Cup, Allenby referred to Kim as a “loose cannon.”

He then went on to describe how some of his friends had seen Kim returning to his hotel room at 4 a.m. (just hours before his scheduled singles match against Allenby) and that Kim was not exactly sober at the time.

It’s always an ugly scene when an athlete appears bitter after a tough loss.

And the most obvious question that comes to mind upon hearing these allegations is why Allenby would possibly want to make it known that he was beaten by a guy who, according to his “friends’” account, was probably still drunk, or at least suffering from a terrible hangover when he stepped onto the first tee at 8 a.m. for their match.

Kim vehemently denied the accusations and said that if Allenby was bitter about the loss, maybe he should have practiced harder.

A PR nightmare was beginning to brew, and we all know how much the PGA Tour loves PR nightmares.

Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the Presidents Cup matches, Allenby released a statement apologizing for his comments about Kim, while Kim released a statement of his own saying that he and Allenby had spoken by phone and the issue was “dead.”

But this week at the Volvo World Match Play Championship, which is taking place in Malaga, Spain, it’s clear that the issue is far from “dead.”

Yesterday evening, when it became official that Kim would be facing off against Allenby in a 36-hole semifinal match, Kim was quoted as saying “I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do, ‘Dinner at 6:30 here, be done by 7:30, shower eight, Internet and talk to some friends eight to nine, be in bed by 9:30!”

Aside from a quick “good luck” on the first tee box this morning, the two players barely acknowledged each other over the course of the next eight hours.

In a move that might have appeared spiteful to many, Kim declined to concede any putts to Allenby during the first 18 holes of the match.

Perhaps the move did show a touch of spite, or perhaps it was just intelligent match-play strategy.

Allenby is, after all, one of the worst putters on the PGA Tour.

With a large sum of money on the line, would you really be prepared to concede four-footers to a guy who would have trouble rolling a golf ball through a basketball hoop?

The match ended on the 32nd hole of the day with Kim leading by five holes with just four to play, thus concluding the latest episode of the Kim/Allenby high school soap opera.

The Volvo World Match Play Championship, being a European Tour event, falls outside of Principle Finchem’s jurisdiction.

However, before Kim decides to steal Allenby’s lunch money, or Allenby starts bullying Kim in the locker room, perhaps it would prudent for Principle Finchem to call both players into his office and settle this childish feud once and for all.

“Anthony Kim, you will refrain from all late-night activities before high-profile PGA Tour events…you might actually win another tournament if you do so,” Finchem could begin by saying.

“And Robert Allenby, you will keep all gossip to yourself, and maybe you could also work a little harder at your putting so we could finally have a decent Presidents Cup match in 2011.”

The PGA Tour Playoffs: A Nonsensical Disaster

October 2, 2009

by Jeremy Gibson… At its heart, golf is a simple game – put the ball in the hole. But golf is also a frustrating game because many obstacles stand in the way of that goal. The course layout adds severe difficulty, with bunkers, rough, trees, and water swallowing errant shots. Equipment decisions, such as graphite or steel, flex-shaft or stiff-shaft, hybrids or long irons add complexity, not to mention the constantly evolving golf swing with terms like club head speed, takeaway angle, and contact position being thrown around. Even if a player has mastered that, all it takes is a turn from Mother Nature – high winds, intense heat, rain – to throw everything off again. Even worse is that every player, expert or hacker, is constantly fighting a losing battle with his mind and emotions. But beyond that, beyond the complexities and stresses, lies the simple truth: get the ball in the hole in fewer shots than your opponent and you will succeed.

One problem: in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff system, that fact isn’t necessarily true. The playoffs wrapped up on Sunday, with Tiger Woods winning the Cup and the attached $10 million bonus. Yet Tiger Woods did not win the tournament on Sunday. He finished in second, three shots behind Phil Mickelson, and one ahead of Sean O’Hair. Because of the confusing point system, Tiger had accumulated enough of a cushion that winning the tournament was not necessary in order for him to win the Cup. Strange isn’t it? That would be like Detroit, even though they fell to Pittsburgh in game seven of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, still winning the Cup because they had a better regular season record and beat a stronger team in the conference finals. Fair? Absolutely not, and it isn’t in golf either.

Don’t get me wrong – I am a fan of a playoff system in golf. For far too long, the end of the golf season was a disaster. Between the PGA Championship and the Tour Championship was nothing but a vast wasteland of low echelon events. Absent were most, if not all, of golf’s big names. Fields consisted of journeymen golfers: those after their first career win, those playing in their first tournaments, or those trying to scrounge enough prize money to retain their tour card. Not to sound offensive but replacing Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, and Mike Weir with Kevin Stadler, Kevin Na, Nathan Green, and Jason Duffner does not make for compelling viewing. The PGA Tour was made aware of this by falling attendance and sagging TV ratings. They needed to add incentive to attract the top players in the world to the final few events of the season. Thus the playoffs, known as the FedEx Cup, were born.

The format has undergone a few changes but is basically the same as at inception. Players earn points along with their prize money at each tournament. At the end of the season, the top 125 points leaders qualify for The Barclays, the first playoff event. After each playoff event the fields are whittled down: the top 100 qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship, the top 70 reach the BMW Championship, and finally the top 30 reach the final event – the Tour Championship. Before the final tournament begins the point values are reset. The highest ranked golfer, no matter how many points he has accumulated, begins with 2500. From there a declining scale is used, with the 30th ranked golfer receiving 210 points. The reset ensures that every golfer in the final event has a chance to win the cup. The hope was that the event would make for incredible drama.

But there lies the problem of the playoffs – the 30th seed has as much chance to win as Rocky V had of winning Best Picture – none. Though it was theoretically and mathematically possible, consider what had to happen for John Senden to vault from 30th to 1st:

  • Win the event (zero tour wins in 2009, one in his career)
  • Heath Slocum (5th on the points list) – finish 3rd or worse
  • Zach Johnson (4th on the points list) – finish 4th or worse
  • Jim Furyk (3rd on the points list) – finish 5th or worse
  • Steve Stricker (2nd on the points list) – finish 7th or worse
  • Tiger Woods (1st on the points list) – finish 29th or worse (AKA second last)

Senden didn’t need one or two of those to take place, he needed ALL SIX! The odds were not only astronomically high, they were practically insurmountable. So much for the incredible, breathtaking, anything-can-happen drama that the PGA wanted.

Perhaps a bigger problem with the current system is that fans had no idea who to cheer for. A Phil Mickelson supporter spent a good part of the day cheering for Steve Stricker and Sean O’Hair. If they finished ahead of Tiger then Phil had a slight chance to claim the Cup. Fans of Steve Stricker were pulling for Mickelson because Mickelson had to beat Tiger for Stricker to even think of winning the overall title. Most bizarre was that Tiger fans were openly cheering for Phil because Phil finishing ahead of Stricker clinched the Cup for Tiger. In a strange twist of irony, the final dagger in the FedEx Cup occurred when Mickelson drained a putt that officially eliminated Stricker, handing the 2009 championship to his bitter rival – Tiger Woods.

The Solution

As I said, I am a fan of the concept of a playoff system in golf – just not the current one. There is one aspect of the current format that does make sense however: regular season points carry forward into the first three playoff events. This accomplishes three things: puts additional weight on regular season events, ensures that a good portion of the top thirty will make the final event, and encourages golfers, plodders and superstars alike, to play in as many events as possible – thus increasing the star power of many tournament fields, and in turn increasing revenues and TV ratings. In other words, the regular season matters and is not just a stepping stone for the playoffs.

However, it is after the conclusion of the third playoff event that the PGA has missed the boat. While I understand the logic that the 30th seeded player should have to overcome high odds to win, they have taken it too far. As demonstrated by the John Senden example earlier, whoever goes into the final in 30th might as well not even show up – the mountain is too high to climb.

What the PGA should realize and embrace is the North American love of two things – underdogs and elimination style playoffs. In recent times the most lovable teams have been underdogs, including the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays and their improbable run to the World Series, 10th ranked Davidson reaching the elite eight in the 2008 March Madness tournament, and the plucky Calgary Flames getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in ’04. One of the most beloved teams of all time in the USA is the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team, who won the gold medal in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Fans love rooting for the underdog – always have and always will – which is why golf’s harsh treatment of the bottom seeds is hard to understand. The low seeds should have a legitimate chance to shock the world.

As far as elimination style playoffs are concerned, consider the four major North American sports. The most exciting, memorable, and passionate moments occur in the postseason. The games are intense, with a loss ending championship dreams for a franchise. There is no such thing as second or third, and absolutely no way that by losing you can still finish first, as Tiger accomplished last weekend. Fans are thrilled by the finality of the event.

The solution I propose to fix the FedEx Cup playoff system is one that embraces both of those concepts – a match-play competition. Leave the first three playoff rounds untouched as stroke play events. They work extremely well in paring down the number golfers en route to the final. Expand the field for the finals to 32, adding two more entrants. In order to give golfers incentive to finish as high as possible in the first playoff events, offer the top 8 seeds a first round bye, an automatic slot in the sweet sixteen. The first round would pit the 9th seed against the 32nd seed, and so on, with the winners advancing to face the well-rested top 8. From there, a straight knockout format eliminates golfers until a 36-hole final.

What is not to like about this? First of all, the lower seeds are given a realistic chance at winning, but with the top 8 earning a first round bye, they still have a tough hill to climb. With one-on-one matches, fans can easily identify underdogs and cheer for them from start to finish, instead of being forced to follow constantly updating scoreboards to see how somebody else is affecting their favourite player. A player’s fate is controlled by himself and himself alone. Secondly, the playoff ladder is easy to follow and doesn’t require a computer to shuffle players up and down the final standings. Simply win and advance.

The PGA governing body will cite scheduling issues as to why a match play format will not work. They will say it will take too long and be too exhausting for fans and players. But the Accenture World Match Play Championship currently pits 64 players in a knockout format. The six rounds are played over five days, with the quarter and semi finals both being played on Saturday. My proposal would require one less round, meaning one less day than the Accenture – a total of four days, or the same as the current Tour Championship. Scheduling would not be an issue.

The popularity of match-play should make this a no-brainer. Outside of the four majors, one could argue that the most popular events in golf are the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, the US Amateur, and the aforementioned Accenture World Match Play Championships. These events gather the cream of the crop in professional and amateur golf and the common theme is that each is a match-play event. If fans already embrace it, why not give them more?

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