BETHESDA, Md. — Patrick Reed held it together better than anyone Saturday at steamy Congressional to build a two-shot lead in the Quicken Loans National. Reed made three bogeys in a seven-hole stretch, but still managed an even-par 71 and was in good position to claim his third victory this year. He was at 6-under 207, two shots ahead of Seung-yul Noh (66), Freddie Jacobson (71) and Marc Leishman (73). Quicken Loans National: Articles, videos and photos Noh finished the best score of the third round about the time leaders teed off. He wound up in the final group with Reed on Sunday. Jacobson wasted a good start with a pair of 6s on the back nine. Oliver Goss, in his second pro start, fell back with a three-putt double bogey. He had a 76 and was five shots behind.
GLENEAGLES, Scotland – This ain’t your grandfather’s Ryder Cup anymore. Unless your grandfather is 65-year-old Tom Watson, that’s not a knock on the recently outclassed United States captain. It’s a realization that the times have changed – and the U.S. team has failed to change along with them. Gone are the days when a captain only needed to ensure there were enough sweaters for three days and enough bubbly for the celebration. If we’ve learned anything in the 15 years with just two American victories, it’s that superior talent can win and superior talent can lose. The deciding variable isn’t which team has the better players or more experience or proper motivation. No, there’s only been one constant throughout this generation’s Ryder Cup champions: The team which is most prepared to win always does. Every single time. This was the crux of Phil Mickelson’s controversial comments immediately after Sunday’s final session had resulted in another drubbing at the hands of Europe, this one by a 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 score. He didn’t imply that Paul Azinger was a successful captain because the team won; he insisted that the team won because Azinger was a successful captain. Those who paid close attention to the two most recent captains understood the wide dichotomy between their approaches. Watson is an eight-time major champion who presumed that his intuition would guide the team to victory. His main tactic for getting his team members to play better was to tell them to play better. And if that didn’t work, well, the captain would throw his hands in the air and maintain the team was outplayed, not outcoached. Ryder Cup: Articles, videos and photos Compare that with Paul McGinley, who treated his role with the deft precision of a Fortune 500 CEO. He planned, he prepared, he delegated. McGinley’s vision for the week went far beyond putting a team together and hoping they played well. Instead, he built a successful business model and developed it. He measured each step of the process as if he was working directly off a flow chart. There are plenty of stories which speak to McGinley’s attention to detail, but none highlight his preparation as well as this: During the 2012 Ryder Cup, noting Graeme McDowell’s innate leadership, he decided that if he ever became captain, McDowell would lead off his team’s singles session. This past week, he relayed that story to his player on Wednesday. As if scripted perfectly, McDowell trailed early to Jordan Spieth, but displayed that leadership in a late rally that not only earned the team a full point, it galvanized his other teammates on the course. In searching for its next Ryder Cup captain, the PGA of America must find a person who will not only erase the arrogant stigma emboldened by Watson that he could simply show up with a dozen great players and win. The organization needs to find someone who will strip the blueprint from Europe’s playbook and put his own stamp on it. That’s exactly what Azinger did a half-dozen years ago. His players weren’t on the team for one week; they were on the team for two years. He didn’t rule with an iron fist; he got players personally invested in the team and let them make their own decisions for its well-being. When the Americans’ most recent Ryder Cup disappointment ended without any of this taking place, Mickelson – and, trust this, many of his quieter teammates – remained flummoxed as to why a proven winning strategy could be so casually dismissed. When asked whether he had been trusted with personal investment into the team prior to last week, the 10-time team member answered, “Uh, no.” That needs to change. If the PGA of America and the next captain and the potential players want to return to the days of celebrating with bubbly on Sunday night, if they want to treat this event as more than a glorified exhibition, they need to change with the times. While the press room might not have seemed like the right time to air that dirty laundry, Mickelson understands how to be a catalyst for these changes. This couldn’t be done under cover of secrecy within the PGA’s sheltered walls. By speaking publicly, the team’s most veteran player invariably placed the ball back onto the tee for its governing body. Now it’s their turn to swing away. The last few shots have been fired with varying degrees of failure, but as any golfer understands, the next one can always be better. Simply realizing that notion is the first step in the right direction.
It’s only apropos that 2016 was the year of the monkey. In our bookend Cut Line we applaud the U.S. Ryder Cup team for getting the monkey off their backs at Hazeltine National, and arraign the USGA for what could best be described as rules monkey business. Made Cut Long live The King. Rory McIlroy had just put the finishing touches on an $11.5 million payday at the Tour Championship in September when news of Arnold Palmer’s death surfaced. Initially stunned by the news, McIlroy was told by a PGA Tour media official he could wait to comment, but the Northern Irishman shook his head emphatically. There was no need to wait. “No, no. Look, Arnie put the game on the map. I don’t think any other sports person in any other sport did for their profession what Arnie did for our game,” the emotional FedEx Cup champion insisted. “I wouldn’t be here playing for this ridiculous amount of money without him and I was just fortunate to spend some time with him.” It was just one of thousands of tributes paid to the 87-year-old legend in the days and weeks after his death, but for McIlroy it was important to tell the world what Palmer meant to him and the game. Arnie would have approved. Up to the task. Whatever you want to call the task force-turned-committee there’s only one word for the results the group produced: success. The task force that was formed in the wake of the U.S. loss at the 2014 Ryder Cup was reactionary, many said, and left no wiggle room if things didn’t go the American side’s way in ’16. In quiet circles, Europeans chuckled at the idea that the secret sauce to winning the matches could be found in a conference room. But along the way the American players took ownership of their team room. They tabbed Davis Love III to lead the U.S. side again, overhauled the selection system and, most importantly, created a process every player could believe in. Love & Co. dismissed the idea that the American victory at Hazeltine National was somehow vindication for everything the task force set out to do, reminding all that the changes were about the next 16 matches not just the ’16 matches. That’s how ethos are altered and legacies are built, whatever you call the agent of change. Tweet of the Year: @WestwoodLee (Lee Westwood) “No pressure there then lads!” The Englishman was referring to a tweet sent out, by Golf Channel, with a quote from Love prior to the matches: “This is the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled.” The quote, taken in full context, was a hypothetical explanation of what Love would tell his team before the matches, but it ended up on the European team’s bulletin board. Love’s team may not have been the best “ever,” but they were certainly unrivaled in 2016. Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF) Brazil or bust. The golf course would never be completed in time. Rio wasn’t safe for athletes or fans. The Zika virus would be the lasting legacy of the Olympics. The headlines in the weeks before this year’s Games told a dire story, and high-profile no-shows from the likes of world No. 1 Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth didn’t help to make golf’s return to the Olympics an unqualified triumph. Despite the setbacks, the logistical and security concerns, despite the mosquitos – for the record, we saw exactly one during our fortnight in Rio – golf’s return was largely a success. Six medals were doled out to players from six different countries, the competitions were compelling and the athletes unharmed. What remains to be seen is how all that work will benefit the game in the long term. Interest in golf in undeveloped countries has increased, but according to various reports the Olympic Golf Course has not exactly lived up to its lofty billing. Getting golf to Rio was difficult. Making sure that return means something may be even more challenging. Pelley’s play. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley is young and engaging, some might even say avant-garde; and along with incoming PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan he represents a fundamental shift to a more forward-thinking power base in the game. It turns out Pelley is also a bit of a gambler. Last month Pelley and the European Tour unveiled a new Rolex Series, a seven-tournament series with larger purses that officials hope will stem the talent drain of young players to the U.S. tour. Although the initiative was largely applauded, Pelley conceded that a $7.7 million shortfall for three of those events will be subsidized by the tour and Rolex in 2017. Nor does the current version of the Series do anything to shore up the weak part of the Continent’s schedule (February-May). Pelley has impressed since taking office last year, but his challenge now is delivering on all that promise. Missed Cut Open season. Two national championships, two rules snafus. It’s not exactly the kind of scorecard the USGA had hoped for in 2016, but at the association’s two biggest events, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, the final outcome was marred by curious rulings. At Oakmont in June, Dustin Johnson was penalized a stroke when officials decided he caused his golf ball to move on the fifth green during Sunday’s final round, even though Johnson said he’d done nothing wrong. A month later, it was Anna Nordqvist who was penalized when officials said she grazed the sand while playing out of a fairway bunker during a playoff. Both incidents were glaring, high-profile examples of how archaic the Rules of Golf have become to a modern audience, and USGA executive director Mike Davis assured a group of club professionals last month in New York that change was coming. A bit of that fresh look arrived this week when the USGA and R&A announced a new local rule that eliminates the penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting green. It was a good start, but the “modernization” of the rules needs to continue. Swoosh-ed. In August, Nike Golf announced it was getting out of the hard goods business and would focus on footwear and appeal. As to why the Swoosh was unable to make its club business work despite having the game’s, and perhaps all of sport’s, most influential pitchman for well over a decade is best left to those with a better grasp of the category. But it’s the immediate aftermath of Nike Golf’s move out of the hard goods business that is so difficult, not for the players like Tiger Woods who must now find new equipment, but for the dozens of engineers and technicians who lost their jobs.
The last time I talked to Bruce Lietzke was almost 14 months ago. He was in good spirits considering his diagnosis. Glioblastoma is a death sentence that very few beat. Lietzke called it “a bolt of lightning” when we spoke last June, a cancer that shows up for no reason. On Saturday morning it took his life, and the golf world reacted with sorrow and backstories that illustrated how Lietzke, 67 at the time of his death, was one of the most personable and technically efficient touring pros in the history of the game. During his offseason, Lietzke put away his clubs and replaced them with tools to work on his muscle cars. His favorite ride was a 1967 Corvette with a 466-cubic-inch engine. It is a true story that his caddie put a banana under the head cover of his driver going into one offseason, knowing when the clubs came out again, so would the banana. Lietzke lived on a farm in north Texas but never considered using some of the 625 acres to build a couple golf holes – not one blade of grass. “It’s water and pastures and no golf holes,” he said after climbing down from his tractor to take my call. The last time he remembered hitting a golf ball was his last PGA Tour Champions event in 2011. In seven years he hadn’t done an exhibition. Instead of “fishing” as special interest, Lietzke more accurately listed “serious fishing.” As friend Curtis Strange said in a Twitter post on Saturday, “We hunted, we fished, but most importantly we all laughed with Leaky.” As his career unfolded, Lietzke gradually decreased the number of events he played. Yet in what close friend Bill Rogers described as a part-time job, he was able to consistently carve the ball from left to right. On Twitter, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chambree compared Lietzke to Ben Hogan as two men who knew how to hit a fade. The difference was their work habits. Lietzke wasn’t a grinder. He was a natural. And, as sports psychologist and author Kapil Gupta once wrote, he focused on maintaining that skill. “I read the transcript of an interview with Mr. Lietzke in which I came across one of the most interesting statements I have ever heard from a professional athlete,” Gupta wrote. “He said, ‘It’s human nature to want to be better. I don’t want to be better. I want to be exactly like I was yesterday.’ ” To the very end, Lietzke tried to remain positive. He came from the generation of Rogers, Strange, Andy Bean, Corey Pavin, Raymond Floyd, Hal Sutton, Tom Kite, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Lanny Wadkins and Jerry Pate, so his13 career wins and seven on the PGA Tour Champions didn’t come easy. A year ago, Rogers, Crenshaw and Pate paid a visit prior to Lietzke’s first four-hour operation at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center to tell stories. Before he was rolled in for surgery, Lietzke worried that his friends’ laughter would have them removed from hospital. Rogers was roommates with Lietzke in the early seventies at the University of Houston, and visited his friend 10 days ago, knowing it would be the last time they communicated. Bruce and his wife, Rose, went into the darkest hours together shedding tears and saying long prayers. They were married 38 years. A service is planned based around the travel time of his friends getting home from the Senior Open at St. Andrews. “Today was a day full of celebrating one who did it about as good as you could do it,” Rogers said. “He did it good. He led a great life and he finished strong in regards to how he fought the disease. Now he can rest in heaven. Sure in that, we are.”
In the annals of mistaken predictions, Wired magazine’s challenge to Apple in 1997 to “Admit it, you’re out of the hardware game” might be worth downloading on your iPhone to remind you the next time someone gives you a sure bet, or in this case a sure loser. In the past 17 NFL seasons exactly two teams that were predicted to win it all went on to win the Super Bowl. From 1979-2014, 13 horses won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and every one of them from Spectacular Bid to California Chrome either failed to win or didn’t even start at the Belmont. All would have been favorites to win—which brings us to the United States and the Ryder Cup. Yes, I know the USA won the Ryder Cup in 2016, but the Americans haven’t won on foreign soil since 1993, so what is the likelihood that Paris will be any different from Spain, England, Ireland, Wales or Scotland? I have been told, mostly by those defending the losses of the U.S. teams, mind you, that match play is unpredictable, that on any given day anyone can win. A fair point. After all, Brian Barnes did beat Jack Nicklaus twice in one day at the Ryder Cup. But a closer look at the career Ryder Cup records of both men – Nicklaus, 17-8-3; Barnes, 10-14-1 – it’s obvious that, just as in medal play, over time the best players will win more often regardless of the format. Tiger Woods’ singles match play record (Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, WGC Match Play, etc.) as a pro is 50-16-2. Add what he did as an amateur, winning six USGA match-play events in a row — three U.S. Juniors and three U.S. Amateurs — the argument that match play is unpredictable becomes less convincing. Indeed, by any definition the best match-play players of all time would include Woods, Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, who could easily be supported as the best medal-play players of all time as well. Over time, the unpredictability of match play washes away to insignificance. Only 12 of the 28 points up for grabs at the Ryder Cup involve singles matches. The other 16 are contested in team-play events. To understand the nature of that format, we must go beyond the obvious factors of world rankings and who is home or away and into the very nature of group dynamics, which it seems to me is what the Ryder Cup is really about. In the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers reported what happens when groups of leaders are put together to collaborate. The results were about as pretty as, well, the United States’ Ryder Cup record since 1995. In one experiment, six people were divided into three pairs. One person in each pair was told they were the leader and given complete control of a task in which they were to build a tower out of toothpicks and candy. The leaders were told to make all of the group’s decisions and even determine how much money was to be divided among them should their group design the highest tower. A control group, with no power manipulation, also took part. After this task was completed, the six people were divided into two groups with all three of the leaders in one group and all three of the followers in another group. They were assigned the creative task of designing a business. Independent judges rated the creativity and the interaction of the various groups. The control group and the followers’ group generated more creative ideas than the leaders’ group, which had more conflicts and proved less likely to work with each other and share ideas. More tests followed, with similar results. The research suggests that while leaders are very good at learning how to influence others, they are less likely to learn how to follow. As a result, when groups of leaders get together they may have difficulty in coordinating their activity. University of Texas professor Paul Woodruff, a classics scholar whose knowledge of the ancient world and military background influence his classes on leadership, often lectures about the problems that occurred as far back as recorded history among groups and armies when there were too many leaders. It is necessary, he argues, especially in this era where the assumption is that everyone should strive to be a leader, that leaders also know when to follow to optimize the potential of a group. Professor Woodruff often makes the analogy that today’s business world is not unlike the story in Greek mythology where Agamemnon struggled for years with how to best manage the Greek heroes Achilles, Ajax and Odysseus, who fought for him against the Trojan army. Is it merely a coincidence that Odysseus finally conceived of the Trojan horse and the Greeks defeated the Trojans, after Achilles and Ajax had died? As Professor Woodruff would say, there is only one corner office and only one No. 1. Tiger Woods has been the No. 1 player in the world for an astonishing period of 683 weeks. Phil Mickelson, though he never ascended to No. 1, has been the second-ranked player in the world a record 270 weeks. Additionally, Phil has been in the top 20 in the world rankings 1,085 weeks, a staggering period of 20 years and 10 months—more than twice the time of the Greek and Trojan war if you are keeping count, and 2 1/2 years longer than Tiger has spent in the top 20. Quite clearly, Tiger and Phil have been the dominant forces in the world of golf over the last 20 or so years. Except at the Ryder Cup. Since 1979, the year the Ryder Cup first became a competition between the United States and Europe, six men from either the U.S. or Europe have won four or more majors: Woods, Mickelson, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Rory Mcilroy. Their Ryder Cup records are as follows: Woods, 13-17-3, for a win percentage of 43.94 Mickelson, 18-20-7, for a win percentage of 47.87 Watson, 10-4-1, for a win percentage of 70.00 Ballesteros, 20-12-5, for a win percentage of 60.81 Faldo, 23-19-4, for a win percentage of 54.35 Mcilroy, 9-6-4, for a win percentage of 57.89 Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the only two players that have losing records in the Ryder Cup are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Perhaps too it’s a coincidence that Tiger and Phil have played on seven Ryder Cup teams together and those teams have lost six times, with their only win coming in the most unlikely of comebacks at Brookline in 1999. It is worth noting that the average world ranking of the seven teams that Tiger and Phil have played on together have been almost twice as good as Europe’s, but those U.S. teams have been outscored, 109 1/2 to 84 1/2 points. The combined records of Tiger and Phil on those teams? 23-33-8. The week before the Ryder Cup in 2002, during the WGC-American Express event, Tiger was asked which event was more important to him, the WGC or the Ryder Cup. The WGC, he said. When asked why, he said flatly, “I can think of a million reasons,” which was the exact number of dollars he won that week. That same week he was asked if, because of the formalities at the Ryder Cup, multiple practice rounds and dinners , etc., all of which Tiger had complained about, would he consider one day skipping the event. To which he replied, “Let me ask you a question, would you rip me?” Implying that the obligation to play trumped the honor of playing. The day before the 2004 Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson practiced not with his team, but by himself… on another golf course, and in 2014 Mickelson flew not with his team to the Ryder Cup but by himself, on his own plane, to Scotland. And at the end of the week, after yet another U.S. loss on foreign soil, when he was criticizing the strategy, not only of captain Tom Watson but of every captain that he had played for since Paul Azinger, he said that, “Nobody here was involved in any decisions,” although he had been asked at the beginning of the week who he wanted to play with and certainly would’ve made the decision all by himself to not fly with his team to Scotland. The point of rehashing the inelegant nature of some of Tiger and Phil’s Ryder Cup moments is merely to underscore how in my opinion they have been awkward participants both in their words and in their actions and that, combined with their competing personalities, has been the larger part of the losses of the teams they have played on. The “Blame Game” is never fun and there is no clearly defined responsibility for who’s accountable in each of these losses. Many want to claim that Europe simply cares more, a query put to many a player on both teams and dismissed by all, but none so poignantly as Lee Westwood back in 2002 when he stated that whoever said such a thing was speaking out of their backside, asking everyone thereafter to pardon his French. He went on to say that he had seen up close the passion in the eyes of the American players and that they wanted the Ryder Cup not one ounce less than the Europeans. Many want to argue that the Europeans just get along better and that makes all the difference, as if camaraderie alone would allow them to beat a team nearly twice as good as them over and over and over again. While camaraderie is hugely important to a team optimizing its potential, relationships ebbing and flowing as they do, it cannot be as simple as the Europeans have a few more laughs so they dominate a team nearly twice as good as them for more than 20 years. More likely it has been a combination of Europe coming close to optimizing its potential, a sort of alchemy that has eluded the United States, who has come nowhere close to optimizing its. The various U.S. captains, just as Agamemnon struggled with a surplus of heroes 3,000 years ago, have struggled to get the best out of the two best players in the world for the better part of two decades. It’s the Tiger and Phil dilemma, if you will. Which given the lopsided losses of the teams that they have been on together, is at least a plausible explanation for the results. It’s possible that there simply has never been two stronger competing personalities on a U.S. team than the duo of Tiger and Phil. Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup captaincy will likely be defined by the impact that Tiger and Phil have on his team, and while both seem to have adopted a generosity of spirit toward the Ryder Cup in recent years, it remains to be seen if their presence on a team can be directed toward a purposeful whole.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Arnold Palmer was cool. He was a champion, an icon and the kind of man who tried to leave every room better than it was when he entered. But above all else, The King was cool. From the cardigan sweaters he wore better than anyone else to play that was best described as heroically reckless, Palmer made a stuffy game stylish. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then count Rory McIlroy’s ode to The King this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as a testament to that ageless style. On Day 1 at Bay Hill, McIlroy arrived wearing a pair of yellow pants and a dark blue golf shirt, a classy nod to Palmer, who was once photographed by Golf Digest wearing the same ensemble. “The King wore it best,” McIlroy conceded. The King also would have approved. Bay Hill wasn’t always on McIlroy’s dance card. He skipped the event the first five years of his career on the PGA Tour. But when he finally made the trip to Arnie’s Place in 2015, he was treated to a signature Palmer moment, when the host invited him to dinner. And what does McIlroy recall from that meal? “I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy recalled. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’” McIlroy has always played well at Bay Hill, which makes sense given the long layout’s demand on ball striking. His victory last year was the logical progression following top-30 finishes in his first three trips to the City Beautiful. McIlroy doesn’t play Arnie’s swashbuckling brand of golf, opting instead for the kind of precision and power that can be unrivaled on a given day, but there are plenty of similarities between the two. Both came from working-class roots, with a keen sense of how people should be treated and a moral compass that always points to parents who instilled an unquestionable line between right and wrong. While there will only be one King, McIlroy also enjoys a degree of whatever magic made Palmer such a beloved figure. Your browser does not support iframes. Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Inviational Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos Like Palmer, McIlroy also seems to have an acute awareness of the moment. Entering the first round at Bay Hill among the week’s favorites following top-5 finishes in each of first four starts in 2019, McIlroy rolled with the yellow and blue. Big moment, big statement. On Sunday, McIlroy will have another chance to fill the space thanks to a third-round 66. Going back to the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, McIlroy has had his chances to add to his portfolio, most notably at the Genesis Open and WGC-Mexico Championship, but each time he came up short. “I’ve come off the back of four top-5s to start the year. I feel pretty comfortable with everything out there, and just the more times I put myself in this position, the more I’m going to become comfortable there, and sooner or later it’s going to happen,” he said. He’ll begin the final period trailing Matthew Fitzpatrick by a stroke, and McIlroy’s Sunday statistics haven’t exactly been flawless. Since the beginning of 2018, McIlroy set out on a championship Sunday in the final group eight times; he didn’t win any of those events. It’s a baffling for a player of McIlroy’s stature, who at times can seem much more imposing than his 5-foot-10 frame. Despite his recent record, you have to like his chances against Fitzpatrick, who was bogey-free on Saturday but has never won in the United States. A staple on the European Tour with five victories, the Englishman knows what to expect on Sunday with McIlroy. The two were paired for the final round last year at the Abu Dhabi Golf HSBC Championship, and Fitzpatrick has set up shop in South Florida near McIlroy. “There’s no point in trying to hit it past him or trying to do anything like Rory. We both got strengths and both got weaknesses and that’s why we practice to try and get better,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think the big thing for me is just sticking to my own game tomorrow.” McIlroy lamented last year following his victory at Bay Hill that the only thing that could have made the moment better was if Palmer – who died in September 2016 on the same day McIlroy won that season’s Tour Championship – was there to present him with the champion’s cardigan. In the media center after his victory, McIlroy raised this vodka toast with The King’s favorite, Ketel One: Like most players of this generation, McIlroy marvels at Palmer’s career, but it’s the way he lived his life that truly makes him a compelling figure. “I guess my thing with Arnold was, he always, no matter who he talked to, whether it was me or a guy in the cart barn or a person in the media, he always looked you in the eye and he always made you feel as if you were the only person in the world at that time,” McIlroy said. “I think that’s something that was really cool.” Yep, Arnold Palmer was really cool. And winning his event for the second consecutive year would also be really cool.
If you’re looking for Tiger Woods, he’s not here. Ideally, he would be. But that’s not the way golf – or life – works. You must earn the right to be in the season finale and Tiger Woods did not do that. This whole comeback thing … pfft. What happened? He was supposed to have 16 majors by now. Seventeen, even. Sam Snead in the rear-view mirror and Jack Nicklaus about to eat dust as well. Now? We’re back to where he was before Augusta National, before last year at East Lake. A ragged 43-year-old man who is closer to calling it quits than breaking any significant records. That’s certainly one way to look at it. Tiger’s withdrawal from The Northern Trust, his also-ran at the BMW Championship, his absence from the Tour Championship, you can take those three and combine them with everything else that has happened (or hasn’t happened) over the last four-and-a-half months and say: Well, it was fun while it lasted. Or – and this is not a suggestion, just an option – you can look back at what Woods accomplished in his two most recent victories, and everything he overcame to make those happen, and appreciate his awesome achievements. THE COMEBACK The Comeback: Tiger’s torturous journey to becoming a champion again Diaz: Tiger’s journey through personal shame Mell: Tiger’s journey to public acceptance Hoggard: Tiger’s journey through injury and pain Lavner: Tiger’s journey to regaining his fear factor Gray: Tiger’s journey against the ‘Tiger Effect’ generation Twenty-one years ago, Khalil Kain – who, as an aside, was brilliant as Raheem in “Juice” – portrayed Tiger in a most cringe-worthy, made-for-TV movie about Woods’ life and journey to becoming the 1997 Masters champion. Mother Mary, it was awful. Word is, there is a Tiger mini-series in the works, based on a recent book (for which Tiger did not participate). This is reportedly more focused on the events in Tiger’s life from the ill-fated Thanksgiving of 2009 to his Masters triumph this year. No proper Tiger story can be told without the salaciousness. For all the awe, there is also the shock. But whether we are viewing Tiger as first-hand observers or future critics who never witnessed his genius or the ignominy, there has a chance to be a denouement so heavily powerful that it supersedes all else in our assessment of his personal and professional lives. Tiger deserves a proper movie – or series – and it should include all the glory and the grime, and when the final credits roll, people should have a salient thought: What a comeback. Your browser does not support iframes. “Pitch it to me,” the movie exec says. It’s called, “The Comeback.” It’s a rise and fall and rise again of a great champion, but it’s unlike anything ever before witnessed. This isn’t James Braddock or Ben Hogan. This is a kid groomed to be the greatest ever in his sport. A kid whose own father said his influence would extend beyond Gandhi’s – the freaking Mahatma. And he’s black. Or multi-cultural. Point is, he’s not white in a very vanilla sport. He’s got all this intrigue. Unprecedented expectations. He’s placed on such a high pedestal that there is no way to keep his balance. He must fall. And he does. But this fall goes beyond credulity. You damn near must suspend disbelief to follow along. He’s so accomplished, so professionally revered, that he’s not only the greatest player in his sport, he’s arguably the most dominant athlete to ever live. He appears to be the only person alive who can maintain this wire act. And then it happens. One quiet, holiday, four-day weekend, news starts to trickle out about some trouble. Trickle, trickle, levee break. This has sordid details you never would have imagined, shocking to even those closest to him. It’s not a Charles Foster Kane scandal. Goes well beyond that. And it happens during the rise of social media. “The Comeback,” though, isn’t just related to one Icarian crash. There are layers that develop him in the audience’s eyes. This comeback is multi-faceted. The personal comeback from humiliation and shame. The public comeback to attain acceptance and eventual adoration. The comeback from injuries and physical pain. The comeback to becoming a champion, against a younger, bolder breed of player he inspired. The comeback from the loss of his most precious competitive commodity: Fear. All of these intertwine, the personal with the public, the inspiration and the intimidation, the pain through it all. And he must overcome all these things, any of which singularly could have destroyed him at any personal or professional level, to achieve, not everything he once had nor again become who he once was. Instead, this comeback is destined to put him in a place he’s never before been: in the heart of the audience. The audience has this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. Here is this athletic giant, more myth and legend than man. And now, through all this crisis … he is human. There is appreciation. Where once the audience was passively witnessing his greatness, they are now actively rooting for redemption. And it doesn’t come easily. There are setbacks, there are teases, and then it finally comes together … in a finale. The action is reminiscent of the past. He’s clinical, near flawless. His challengers, among the best in the world, offer nothing but Lilliputian arrows. But the scene is like nothing the audience has ever witnessed. It’s like the breaking of an ant farm, thousands flowing from the left and the right and the rear, encircling him, reveling. It’s an unimaginable scene among two decades of unforgettable scenes. But “The Comeback” isn’t complete. There is still something lingering, hanging in the air. The audience knows it. He knows it. There is still one thing he must achieve. This is where “The Comeback” comes together. It’s the site of where he first returned after his public shaming. The site where he was once publicly harangued from on high. It’s the site of the event most associated with his legend, and one from which he’s been noticeably absent because of injury. It’s where the new breed walks as if this is their turf now. The audience feels cautiously optimistic about his chances prior to the start of this event. Expectations temper after the first day, grow after the second day, explode after the third day. It’s the classic movie arc. And then the final day. Poetically, a comeback is needed. The humiliation, the scorn, the pain is gone. Youthful rivals are present. And when it all comes together, when we hit that moment that makes the audience gasp, there it is: Fear! It’s back. It’s palpable. It feels like 10, 15, 20 years ago. And it all leads to a moment the audience never believed it would again see. There is triumph, redemption, hugs, kisses, tears, exaltation. There’s hope. There is promise. There is this feeling of a new beginning. And how does it end? It ends how it’s supposed to end. It doesn’t matter. “The Comeback” is complete.
SYLVANIA, Ohio – Five shots behind with six holes to play, Danielle Kang won her second straight LPGA tour event on Sunday when Lydia Ko made double bogey on the final hole in the Marathon Classic. Kang began her rally with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes at Highland Meadows, and then all she needed were pars the rest of the way for a 3-under 68, all because of Ko’s shocking collapse. Ko was poised to end two years and 44 tournaments without a victory. She made bogey on the 14th hole, and with Kang’s birdies, the lead suddenly was down to two. Ko dropped another shot on the 16th, and caught a break when Kang was in position for birdie on the par-5 17th and had to settle for par. Full-field scores from the Marathon LPGA Classic But on the closing par 5, Ko fell apart. She hit her chip through the green. With a slightly uphill lie in patchy rough, Ko muffed the chip and watched it roll into a bunker. She blasted that out to 10 feet and missed the putt that would have forced a playoff. She wound up with a 73. Jodi Ewart Shadoff, in contention for the second straight week but still without an LPGA victory, played bogey-free after the opening hole for a 67. She wound up in a tie for second with Ko. Ko reached No. 1 in the world as a teenager and now is outside the top 50. Her back had been troubling her all week, but this appeared to be more about nerves. Getty Images Kang finished at 15-under 269 in winning for the fifth time in her LPGA career. The two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion won last week when the LPGA resumed its schedule at tough Inverness Club in nearby Toledo, site of next year’s Solheim Cup. Now, Kang is a back-to-back winner and has established herself as the top American player. Minjee Lee finished eagle-birdie for a 68 to finish alone in fourth. The LPGA, which resumed after six months because of the pandemic, now heads to Scotland for two weeks for the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s Open Championship.
Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Tagsamino acidBioSystemscatalysisCharles Carterenzymesorigin of lifePeter WillsRNA world,Trending Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Cornelius G. HunterFellow, Center for Science and CultureCornelius G. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology. He is Adjunct Professor at Biola University and author of the award-winning Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Hunter’s other books include Darwin’s Proof, and his newest book Science’s Blind Spot (Baker/Brazos Press). Dr. Hunter’s interest in the theory of evolution involves the historical and theological, as well as scientific, aspects of the theory. His blog is Darwin’s God. Share Given its widespread popularity and acceptance you might not have realized that the so-called RNA World hypothesis suffers from some dramatic problems. At the top of the list is the rather awkward fact that there is no evidence for it. While skeptics have pointed this out for years, we now see evolutionists coming clean on this inconvenient truth as well. To wit, here is how Peter Wills and Charles Carter open their recent BioSystems paper:The RNA World is a widely-embraced hypothetical stage of molecular evolution, devoid of protein enzymes, in which all functional catalysts were ribozymes. Only one fact concerning the RNA World can be established by direct observation: if it ever existed, it ended without leaving any unambiguous trace of itself.Even this is a bit of an understatement. Because without the prior assumption of evolution, which can and has underwritten a wide range of speculation, there is precisely zero reason to believe this wild hypothesis. No organisms have ever been discovered that demonstrate the RNA World hypothesis in action. Nor have scientists ever constructed any such organisms in their laboratories. This is not too surprising because no one has even produced anything remotely close to a detailed design of how such organisms could function.Wills and Carter also point out negative evidences such as catalysis (RNA enzymes lack the ability to function over a wide range of temperatures) and the “impossible obstacles” to the hypothetical yet necessary transition from the RNA World to something resembling today’s extant cells. As Carter explains:Such a rise from RNA to cell-based life would have required an out-of-the-blue appearance of an aaRS [aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase]-like protein that worked even better than its adapted RNA counterpart. That extremely unlikely event would have needed to happen not just once but multiple times — once for every amino acid in the existing gene-protein code. It just doesn’t make sense.Indeed, it just doesn’t make sense. And yet in spite of these obvious problems, the RNA World has been a textbook staple, presented as a plausible and likely example of how early life evolved.Image credit: DasWortgewand, via Pixabay.Cross-posted at Darwin’s God. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Evolution About That RNA World HypothesisCornelius HunterJanuary 23, 2018, 1:45 AM
Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Recommended Life Sciences Hummingbird Study Illustrates Problem with Darwinian ExplanationsEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCFebruary 16, 2018, 1:12 AM Intelligent Design Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share TagsaerobaticsagilitybeakevolutionFlight: The Genius of BirdshappenstancehearthummingbirdIllustra Mediamaneuverabilitynatural selectionnerve synapsesnutrientsPaul NelsonPeter C. WainrightRoslyn DakinsciencetongueUniversity of British Columbiawings,Trending Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Many people keep hummingbird feeders in their back yards, to enjoy the aerobatics of these colorful, quicker-than-the-eye, miniature marvels. Paul Nelson says, “There’s a kind of jewel-like quality that they have” that makes them so admirable. In Flight: The Genius of Birds, after seeing details about hummingbird science set to dazzling video, it’s no wonder Nelson speaks of the “exquisite workmanship” evident in their construction.The big question facing science should be, “How did such exquisite workmanship come about?” How can a creature weighing only a few ounces perform maneuvers that flight engineers cannot begin to imitate? And yet evolutionists often seem fixated on much smaller questions, such as “How did one hummer evolve to be larger than another hummer?” A good example of this comes from the University of British Columbia, which announces, “Evolution — and skill — help hefty hummingbirds stay spry.” Looking right past the magnificent photo of a hummingbird’s iridescent feathers and beautiful head and eyes, the authors rush to give credit to blind processes of nature, right from the first word.Evolved differences in muscle power and wing size — along with a touch of skill — govern hummingbirds’ inflight agility, according to new research in Science.The findings by University of British Columbia biologists show that larger species of hummingbirds, despite their increased mass, are able to adapt to outmaneuver smaller species.“Studies of bats, birds and other animals show that increases in body mass can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of flight,” says Roslyn Dakin, co-lead author on the study.“But with hummingbirds, the correlated evolution of increased wing size and muscle mass helps larger species compensate for their greater body masses.” [Emphasis added.]You can summarize all the lessons of this study published in Science in just one sentence: “Bigger hummingbirds evolved bigger muscles, and smaller hummingbirds evolved smaller muscles, but all of them can maneuver equally well.” Fascinating. Science marches on.It’s not that the scientists were lazy. Dakin et al. “recorded over 330,000 maneuvers, including many repeated maneuvers for each bird.”How does agility evolve? This question is challenging because natural movement has many degrees of freedom and can be influenced by multiple traits. We used computer vision to record thousands of translations, rotations, and turns from more than 200 hummingbirds from 25 species, revealing that distinct performance metrics are correlated and that species diverge in their maneuvering style. Our analysis demonstrates that the enhanced maneuverability of larger species is explained by their proportionately greater muscle capacity and lower wing loading. Fast acceleration maneuvers evolve by recruiting changes in muscle capacity, whereas fast rotations and sharp turns evolve by recruiting changes in wing morphology. Both species and individuals use turns that play to their strengths. These results demonstrate how both skill and biomechanical traits shape maneuvering behavior.Evolve, evolve, evolve. Everything is explainable by Darwin’s blind process of mistakes that survived the trash heap. That includes “both skill and biomechanical traits” because they are results of evolution, too. Is science advanced by work that ends up saying, “big hummingbirds evolved to be bigger, and small hummingbirds evolved to be smaller”? It wouldn’t matter if they recorded 500,000 maneuvers, or a million maneuvers. The fix was in: evolution would take all the credit.This result explains why hummingbird maneuverability scales positively with species mass, even though mass has the opposite effect on individual performance: Larger species can achieve maneuverability through the evolution of disproportionate increases in muscle capacity and wing size.It’s hard to even call natural selection a “process.” It’s more like a statement after the fact, a filter that allows one conclusion but omits all others. Natural selection is not an active agent; it doesn’t cause anything. The bird doesn’t choose to evolve, and the environment doesn’t make it evolve. The Darwinian just looks at the finished product, and says, “it evolved.” The reader is left looking at this masterpiece of flying jewelry, wondering if anything has been explained at all.Thus, species-level evolutionary changes in muscle capacity and wing morphology affect different, correlated suites of behaviors.No doubt this study took a lot of work, but the evolution statements do not logically emerge from the data. The scientists learned things about feathers, wing shapes, glycolysis in the muscles, and other measurable factors between different hummingbird species. But what’s evolution got to do with it?Given that muscle capacity is the primary species-level trait associated with accelerations this result suggests that evolved changes in muscle capacity can compensate for relatively small wings.The uselessness of evolutionary explanations can be seen by substituting the word “happenstance” for “evolve” in one of their concluding paragraphs:A key result of our comparative analysis is that evolved [happenstance] changes in the wings primarily determine turns and rotations, whereas evolved [happenstance] changes in muscle capacity primarily determine translations. This indicates that different flight maneuvers evolve by [happenstance] recruiting different traits.Lest any evolutionist complain that we’re leaving out the ‘selection’ part of the equation, it must be noted that selection is by happenstance, too. No mind is governing the outcome in the Darwinian view of the world. ‘But if selection didn’t operate, the bird would not survive!’ is the comeback. OK then, how satisfying is it to explain anything with the statement, “If it didn’t evolve, it wouldn’t exist”? It’s like the anthropic principle in cosmology, which (in one version) states, “If the universe were not finely tuned to an astonishingly intricate degree, we wouldn’t be here arguing about it, so it must have just happened to work out that way.” There’s something deeply unsatisfying in that kind of explanation.The paper by Dakin et al., notice, is trying to explain hummingbird differences by evolution. Peter C. Wainright, in a companion piece in Science, points to the paper with the “how” word: “How hummingbirds stay nimble on the wing.” He says the authors “probe the evolution of flight maneuverability in hummingbirds”; he speaks of “the evolution” of hummingbirds; he mentions “the role of flight ability evolution in hummingbird diversification.” Our contention is, what’s the e-word got to do with it? For anything learned about hummingbird maneuverability due to wing shape, tail rotation, or muscle mass, does it help to say that evolution (happenstance) did it? Does this improve scientific understanding of a wonder of nature? Thinking people want to know how this wonder came about. Happenstance is not an answer. It is not an explanation.You’ll learn more about hummingbirds in nine minutes of the Illustra film than in this paper with its 64 references and 18 mentions of evolution. You’ll learn that:Engineers are light-years behind the bird that inspired robotic flyers.Their wings can beat more than 100 times a second.Hummingbirds are built for speed and maneuverability.No other bird can fly backward and hover in mid-air while feeding on flowers.The highly-maneuverable tail is a balancing organ the bird uses to guide direction.The flight muscle represents about 43% of the bird’s mass.Hummingbirds employ 3 specialized types of wing beats for forward, backward, and hovering motion.Hummers have a unique shoulder joint that enables these flight strategies.Unlike on any other bird, hummingbird wings generate lift on the backstroke.The shoulder joint can rotate the wing 140 degrees by twisting the upper arm bone, making the entire wing invert on the backstroke.To supply the muscles with oxygen, the bird’s heart beats as much as 1,250 beats per minute.The nerve synapses fire at an incredible rate to make this muscular contraction possible.The hummingbird consumes twice its body weight in nutrients each day.During waking hours, the bird eats every 10 to 15 minutes.A comparable diet for a human would be 150 pounds of food a day.The hummingbird tongue is about twice as long as its beak.The tongue acts as an automatic nectar trap (see video clip for demonstration).The tongue traps nectar in less than 1/20th of a second, thousands of times a day.Surely these observational facts cry out for an explanation more elegant than, “they evolved.” We respond to these observations, Paul Nelson concludes, like responding to the work of an artist. We doubt that any artist would appreciate having elegant craftsmanship attributed to happenstance.Photo source: Flight: The Genius of Birds, courtesy of Illustra Media. Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All