We are the Roshomon nation. The reactions to Tiger's victory at Torrey Pines--from some readers off-the-charts positive--have also been critical in some cases, surprisingly so. It's almost as if this second group of readers were watching a different Open. A sampling:
Tiger Woods may hold the title and the trophy but the real winner of the US Open us Rocco Mediate. Rocco not only played well but he coped with the Tiger circus and managed to retain his focus as Tiger took at
least twice as long to play every shot as he did. He was always gracious, applauding Woods good shots and was one of the first to congratulate him after holing the tying putt on the 18th hole on Sunday. Rocco talked and treated everyone with respect and at all times his demeanor was that of a gentleman. Woods, on the
other hand, frequently reacted badly to a less than perfect shot and his over-the- top display after the Sunday tying putt was disgusting. His playing partner, Lee Westwood, although a multiple winner around the world, had never won a major, nor had Rocco. His in-your-face display was insensitive and has no place in the gentlemanly game of golf. He should recognize that several times throughout the tournament he was lucky, whereas Rocco wasn't , as, among other things, he narrowly >
missed a hole in one. Rocco is a winner.>
It never ceases to amaze me why no one questions the lack of real competition for Tiger Woods in the majors. Jack Nicklaus on his way to 18 major victories had to face Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino, all multiple major winners. Tiger Woods' competition in the last decade pales in comparison and, in fact, includes mostly players who win one major and disappear from view. Until Tiger encounters and goes head to head with real competitors, I take with a "grain of salt" the worth of his 14 major victories.
Golf World's June 6th cover article on slow play was prophetic. In the article, you quoted PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem as stating "You owe your fellow competitor the courtesy of maintaining a reasonable pace." I appeared to me and others that Tiger intentionally slowed down his play to un-nerve Rocco Mediate. It started around the 15th as Tiger fell behind, but was very apparent on the 17th fairway. An official should have put Tiger "on the clock" on the 17th as he checked and rechecked the wind, had numerous conversations with his caddie, changed club selections twice, and backed away from hitting his shot a couple of times. Rocco was on a rhythm, and is a fast play type of golfer. He had to wait in the fairway for Tiger to play before he could hit his approach. I feel Tiger's slow play threw Rocco off the great birdie run that he had going into the last few holes. Tiger also took an unusual amount of time getting to the sudden death tee (as noted by announcer Johnny Miller), again leaving Rocco to pace the tee box to control his emotions. Tiger's actions were probably within the rules of golf, but not within the spirit of the game.
Lake Orion, Michigan
There is no denying that Tiger Woods is the most talented player to ever pick up a golf club. His performance at last week's U.S. Open further solidified his position as the game's best player ever. Despite his incredible talents, however, I will never hold him in the same regard as some of the game's other great players. The reason is simple. As last week's telecast demonstrated over and over again, he still doesn't conduct himself on the golf course the way a Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and even a Phil Mickelson do. He continues to throw clubs and use language that I and I'm sure many others find offensive. Growing up in the Palmer and Nicklaus era I have watched endless telecasts of these great players and cannot recall one instance where either of them threw clubs or used offensive language. Tiger will likely hold every major record by the time he finishes his career. However, in my mind (and I suspect many other's) Tiger will never achieve the status of these other great players unless he learns how to control his temper and set a better example for all of those youngsters who watch him and aspire to be like him. Please Tiger, remember thousands and thousands of children are watching you.
Franklin, TN 37067
Let me just say one thing in response. The guy was playing on a broken leg. That will also you down a bit. Not an excuse, but a fact. And my impression was that he was reasonably gracious and praiseworthy toward Rocco. But he ain't perfect, no doubt.