Risk + Reward
Continued (page 2 of 3)
TRAVEL isn't what it once was. Just ask Gary Player. But for me, at 38, it's grueling enough, especially as a true international player. I've earned gold status with rewards programs, but I use NetJets, too. If a player can save 30 days of travel per year, that's two more tournaments he can play, easy. If you play halfway decent in those two tournaments, that pays for the NetJets. And you feel better the other weeks as well. It's not a luxury, it's good business sense.
HERE'S A FIRST-WORLD problem for you. In 2007, my wife, Emma, and I had a small courtyard home built here at Lake Nona. When the kids, Lisa and Karl, came along, we couldn't fit all our stuff in the garage, so we decided to build a larger home in another part of the community. With the second home, it turned out there was a bald eagle living in a pine tree in the back yard, which caused a building delay because you need permits. Meanwhile, we couldn't keep living in the first home because it was too small, so we bought a third, larger home to live in while the second home was being built. The main home still isn't finished, because you can't build during bald-eagle nesting season. So right now, we're sort of homeless, even though we own three houses in Lake Nona.
WHAT ARE THE IMPRESSIONS of a European seeing America for the first time? When I made my first training visit to Arizona with the Swedish boys' team in 1994, I was amazed by the enormous amount of ice in the soft drinks. I couldn't believe how many Americans drank soda in the morning. I was impressed that drivers can turn right on a red light over here—you can't do that in Sweden—and dismayed that American drivers think nothing of passing on the right, which can be quite dangerous. I also couldn't believe the number of food commercials shown on American TV. That one still blows me away.
A FRIEND OF MINE hit a bad shot and whacked his carry bag with the iron he was using. When he reached for his driver on the next tee, the shaft was broken. Same thing with his 3-wood, 5-wood and 3-iron. He didn't find an unbroken club until he got to his 4-iron. When his tee shot with the 4-iron left him with a full 6-iron to the green, he found that his 6-iron was broken, too. Five clubs broken with one swing. When I asked him what he learned from the experience, he said, "If you're going to take a swing at your bag, make sure it's not a nylon carry bag."
IF YOU COUNT THE 58 shot by Ryo Ishikawa at a Japan Tour event in 2010 as legitimate—and I do—then that's the scoring barrier. On the first day of the 2007 Tavistock Cup, Chris DiMarco and I shot a best-ball score of 57. It was 15 under par on a pretty tough Lake Nona course, and Chris and I both played out of our minds. We gave Tiger Woods and John Cook, who played well and shot 65, a proper beating. It's one thing for two guys to shoot 57, another thing for one guy to do it. But it will happen. Maybe not for 10 years, but somebody will do it.
ONE OF THE GREAT Swedish sports heroes was Ingemar Johansson, heavyweight boxing champion of the world in the late 1950s and early '60s. I never met Mr. Johansson, but I heard he had a long post-career friendship with his arch rival, Floyd Patterson. They fought three times, yet for years after they retired they would fly across the Atlantic to visit one another. Golf is like that. On the course, we're as competitive as possible. But when it's over, the realization sinks in that we go through many of the same challenges. The longest friendships in sports are through golf. Look at Arnold and Jack. They've been friends for more than 50 years.
FANNY SUNESSON, who was on Nick Faldo's bag for 10 years and mine for five, is a huge pinball enthusiast and quite the player and collector. Fanny got me an "Avatar" pinball machine for my summer home in Sweden, and it's because of her that I got a "Spider-Man" machine for my home in Orlando. Pinball is like golf in that when you're playing it you really don't think of anything else.
A TRADEMARK of Swedes is a lack of self-consciousness about their bodies. I'm still reminded about hitting a shot from a water hazard at Doral in my underwear. It was at the 2009 WGC-CA Championship. I was five under, cruising along nicely, when I drove my ball inside the water hazard on the third hole—my 12th of the day. I knew mud was going to go everywhere, and I was wearing white pants. I didn't want to get them muddy, so off go the pants. I then realized my shirt was also going to get muddy, and why wear a muddy shirt with white pants? So off goes the shirt. My rainsuit wasn't an option, because it was a perfect day in South Florida and I didn't have it in my bag. So I went down to my underwear. I didn't think a thing of it, and neither did Fanny—she's Swedish also. I look at pictures of that episode, and she's all business, her head buried in the yardage book. I salvaged a bogey, by the way.