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Five reasons: Tiger should not play the weekend

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Irony is working overtime this Masters weekend. Tianlang Guan was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play and the social media world exploded with cries of jingoism and favoritism.

Fortunately for Guan, he took the high road and indicated that he understood and would accept the penalty without complaint. It helped that he made the cut by one slim stroke. The Guan incident, since he is quite distant from the leaders, will drip into the background, thanks to another rules incident involving a competitor of a much higher profile.

Tiger Woods clanked his third shot on the 15th hole off the flagstick and into the pond fronting the green in Round 2. He then appeared to retreat to the point of the third stroke, drop a ball and play on, making bogey.

During the post-round press conference, rule 33-5 came into play, because Woods told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi that he intentionally had dropped his ball two yards behind the point of his third shot. That drop should have resulted in a penalty that Woods did not account for in his score, which means he signed an incorrect scorecard that should have disqualified him from the tournament.

Instead of disqualification, the Masters competition committee invoked a revision to rule 33-7, which gave Woods a two-shot penalty instead. This decision has not sat well with golf pundits and aficionados, who wondered why the world’s No. 1-ranked player would get off so easily.

Tiger has teed it up in Round 3 of the Masters, but here are five reasons why he is making a huge mistake.

No. 1: His reputation is at stake

Tiger’s personal difficulties sullied his on-course reputation and he has spent the last several years rebuilding his golf game. Had he disqualified himself in the spirit of personal integrity and karma, he would taken great strides to improve his reputation with sponsors and fans.

No. 2: Eliminate a perception of favoritism

Dustin Johnson (2010 PGA Championship) and Tianlang Guan (2013 Masters), among others, were assessed controversial penalties in major championships. They accepted the rulings and moved on.

Despite the fact that Tiger is adhering to the letter of the law and accepting the ruling as handed down by the Master Tournament Committee, the integrity of the game and its tournaments is exposed for debate and attack to the world. Is some sort of collusion at play to keep the most compelling figure in golf on golf’s most recognizable stage? We can’t be sure, but withdrawing would eliminate all shred of doubt.

No. 3: It’s tainted

If Tiger were to win the Masters this week, it would be tainted — plain and simple. Tiger should have known where to drop. No matter what he does over the next 36 holes, people will contrast this moment with Bobby Jones’ famous, “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank” episode when he called a one-stroke penalty on himself for a moving ball that no one but he saw move.

No. 4: Jack Nicklaus’ record

Tiger’s motivation and impetus for greatness has always been Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record. Tiger won six amateur USGA championships (way more than Nicklaus) and now holds 14 professional major titles, second only to Nicklaus’ 18.

Imagine this scenario: Tiger storms back from five shots down to win the 2013 Masters, which serves as a springboard to him eclipsing the 18 titles for most professional major championship victories in a career . . . but he only eclipses the victory tally by one? Will anyone recognize him as the greatest major champion of all time?

No. 5: It’s nothing personal

Debatable? Yes. Revocable? No. Just as Tiger’s disqualification should not be. Tiger broke a transparent rule, one with no room for interpretation. Professional golfers are disqualified from events on a regular basis on the PGA Tour. Even the world’s No. 1 golfer can make a mistake, and like every other professional, he should be held accountable. It’s nothing personal.

Click here to read a different take by GolfWRX Featured Writer Grant Shafranski — “Blame The Rules Committee, Not Tiger.”

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. edward davison jr

    Apr 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

    In two cases — Brian Davis ticking a reed in a waste area at Hilton Head and Ian Poulter’s coin moving slightly when he dropped his ball on the green during a playoff — the players called the penalty on themselves.

    Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker he didn’t know he was in at the PGA Championship, and the PGA of America notified him of the two-stroke penalty before he signed his card, knocking him out of a playoff. Juli Inkster also was disqualified for swinging a weighted club during a long wait on the tee. That infraction was called in by a viewer

  2. C Nas

    Apr 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I don’t think Tiger should have been DQ’d. The objective in any sports’ rulings is to get the call “right”. The two stroke penalty was the proper ruling for his improper drop. That’s a severe penalty. It came late (after Tiger’s TV interview) but they got it right. Initially they ruled no violation, that’s why Tiger had already signed his card. And as far as signing an incorrect card, that rule is archaic and that’s why it has been modified. The old guard cries that, “we’ve played under that rule for eons”. Hey, they used to play with hickory shafts and persimmons. Times change, rules change. What about Scott’s long putter? That may be on the way out, but it won’t mar his victory; he’s using it under the current rules. Things change. With today’s technology, everyone knows what everyone did “ON THE COURSE”. What you do in a tent after your round shouldn’t matter much anymore. Let the officials keep scores. There’s got to be a way!

  3. Dave Petersen

    Apr 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    So, was Tiger’s drop within the length of Scott’s putter from his original location?

  4. mike worgul

    Apr 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    the question i have is why they waited till sat morning to talk to tiger when they had evidence after the espn interview that he did in fact violate the as near as possible previous spot rule. i mean he did the interview right after he finished the round and im sure some official at augusta had listened to it. but ridley went out to eat with his family and more time passed.for a tournament that prides itself on getting everything right i believe in this case they did everything wrong.i wonder how palmer,nicklaus,player,and the many players really feel about this issue.all you here now is bloviating

  5. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for all these comments and interpretations. I am encouraged by the exchange of opinions and ideas.

  6. Adam

    Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The real issue here is that it’s a poorly written rule. “The nearest point”? How vague can you be? How many people look at that divot and where he played the drop from and think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it? Almost everyone I’m sure. Should he have tried to drop it directly in his divot? They need to ammend the rule to within a club length of the spot, same cut of grass, and no closer to the hole. That makes perfect sense and is not gaining any advantage. To say Tiger was going to hit the exact same shot and moving, essentially, one club length behind his divot gives him an advantage is ridiculous.

    The call in rule is also insanely unfair. Tiger is at a DISADVANTAGE since he gets by far the most air time. Tiger does not need to WD for the integrity of the game, he’s the first example of a positive rule change to protect players from an already outdated scorecard signing rule.

    • Rob

      Apr 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Tiger misspoke when he said he dropped a couple of yards behind his previous shot. Video review showed the distance to be closer to a foot. “As near as possible” is very vague. The main thing it seems is not to end up closer to the hole. Branded Chamblee and Nick Price are card carrying Tiger haters and acted like buffoons yesterday. The rules committee reviewed the video and found nothing wrong Friday so there should have been no penalty and that should have been the end of it.
      There’s a concerted effort to derail Tiger’s goal of eclipsing Jack’s 18 majors so this BS doesn’t surprise me.

    • rj

      Apr 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I agree with you adam. I dont think I have ever seen anybody drop the ball in their divot. the rules committee needs to modify this rule instead of worrying about wedge grooves and putter lengths.

  7. J

    Apr 14, 2013 at 10:59 am

    It’s an invitational Tournament. Plain and simple. ANGC decides the rules, enforces the rules and they spoke. It’s not against the spirit of the rules as the rules have been modified due to self important a-holes sitting around trying to be included in something that has nothing to do with them.

    Tiger reported the drop. The officials made a decision and later changed their mind.

    Sounds like Tiger tried to get a proper ruling before signing his card, was given a ruling that was later changed… I’m unsure why all the detractors in this situation are neglecting that fact.

    It’s simple, and those calling for his withdrawal are nothing more than vultures who look for yet another reason to pile on Tiger Woods. It’s amazing the amount of emotion devoted to wishing ill-will of a stranger. Just because you see him on television doesn’t mean you know him. The rules were changed to allow for situations like this… Or does that escape everyone’s attention?

    Soooo…. He broke a rule and was punished. The punishment was handed out by the people in charge. Everyone calling for further, self imposed punishment…. Get over it. You don’t know Tiger Woods… Stop letting a stranger inspire emotion, especially negative emotion, and you might find a little more enjoyment out of watching history.

  8. john

    Apr 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

    the only reason tiger signed an incorrect scorecard is because the committee said his drop was fine and the only reason they changed their minds is because Tiger admitted on ESPN that he dropped it farther to give him an advantage which made the drop illegal in the committees mind. however tiger had already signed his scorecard at that time and did not think he signed an incorrect scorecard at the time.

    disqualification is warranted for signing an incorrect scorecard but no one has ever been disqualified for an improper drop.

    you can argue that tiger should know the rules and the committee should not have given tiger the ok but honestly if tiger knew the rules and he knew he was on national television why would he try to get away with it in front of millions of people. tigers behavior did not warrant a disqualification only a 2 stroke penalty which is what happened. i dont think there is any special treatment going on and i also dont know any other sport where a viewer can call in and influence the officials decision and also where an ESPN interview influences a committees decision. there is something at fault here but its not tiger.

  9. whids

    Apr 14, 2013 at 12:14 am

    The rules of golf are crystal clear when you hit a ball into lateral water hazard. Tiger made an incorrect drop and should have been informed of this by the Masters Rules Committee that reviewed the drop several times but, saw no wrong doing. The Rules Committee screwed up and so did Tiger, Under the current (and revised rules) Tiger was given the correct penalty. He has no reason to DQ himself, he is following the rules that are in place. If this was 3 years ago, Tiger would have been DQ’d and he would have been fine with it because those are the rules.

  10. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Jerry…I don’t share your interpretations and hopes, but I’m glad that you took the time to comment.

    • Letter of the law

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

      The rules were administered to Tiger correctly. Plain and simple. The rule of 10 years ago does not apply. Those suggesting Tiger should withdraw are suggesting he not follow the rules but go above and beyond what the rule book requires and showing their lack of rules knowledge. Brandle Chamblee made a fool of himself yesterday saying, “This will follow him around for the rest of his career”. Sounds like a bitter Tiger hater.

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Many of the commentators/ pros seemed to only have part of the story or only listened to the anti-Tiger viewpoint. There seems to be many Tiger haters on or around the tour these days. I believe any other player would have been penalized the same way and I believe Tiger’s negative perception is one of the only reasons this topic has escalated.

        So it’s ok to penalize Tiger to the letter of the law and even call for him to further penalize himself, yet everyone wants to give the 14 year old a pass for violating timing rules multiple times on the back nine, possibly not only giving him an advantage but possibly throwing off the timing of players behind him. Seems like a popularity contest in the public eye to me.

        • Steve

          Apr 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm

          Exactly. If it was anybody but Tiger, (A) no one would care, or (B) most of these people would be in favor of the decision.

          • TWShoot67

            Apr 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

            Hit the nail on the head. If this happened to anyone else this story would have never been written. RONALD MONTESANO, go review the all of the Masters and see if you can find another infraction, and write with that same vigor. get real you sound like sour grapes and each time you try a new analogy you dig yourself further into the hateraid bowl!

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

          Nope…no one but Tiger influenced Tiger. There were two other players in Guan’s threesome and one suspects they contributed to the slow play.

  11. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Blanco and Petty, at what point do we draw the line? The new interpretive revision basically lets cheaters and ignoramuses get away with whatever they desire. When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

    It would have made a statement to the professional golf world that transgressors are held accountable. If Guan can get penalized when dozens of slower tour players get away with it, why can’t Tiger? Now, other golfers will use the “Tiger Non-Ruling” as precedent for getting away with … everything!

    • Steve

      Apr 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Get away with whatever they desire? You’re acting like he didn’t get penalized… He took a 2 stroke penalty and moved on.

      When I say to the police office, “ocifer, I didn’t mean to speed,” is the officer going to say “here’s your license, sir. No ticket today”?

      Is he going to suspend your license for speeding? That’s be the same as a DQ. No, he’s going to give you a fine, which would be like a penalty stroke, not a DQ. Again, Tiger didn’t get off free like you are trying to make it seem like.

      • Steve

        Apr 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        That’d be the same* (dang autocorrect!)

      • Ronald Montesano

        Apr 14, 2013 at 6:11 am

        Correct, he didn’t get off free. In both cases (the hypothetical speeding and the actual golf event) the intensity of the offense does determine the severity of the penalty.

        Speed far above the limit and you will lose your license, right? This was a case where Tiger (as many non-violent golfing transgressors before him) deserved to be penalized with a disqualification and got off with less.

        It is shaping up to be a fine conclusion. I give Tiger even odds to win the tournament.

  12. Jerry

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    The rules comitee should not have been needed. Tiger and Lance are part of the same culture. Sad day for golf. Tiger needed to w/d on his own admission. Let him always be known as a cheater/loser in life with his buddies Barry and Lance and any other so called golf amateur who thinks he was ok to play today. The other pros were cowards to defend him. Like to hear from Arnie and Jack. Hopefully this leads to a continuation of no more majors like the Cubs.

  13. petty

    Apr 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    There are millions of eyes watching him – you really think he intentionally tried to cheat and get away with it as well?
    He made a mistake and was penalized 2 strokes – time to move on . . . .

  14. Blanco

    Apr 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve watched the shot, the hoopla, the post hoopla, the analysis… It’s clear to me that TW felt he was within the rules at the time of the drop. It’s even more clear that despite your “tainted” moralizing, the rules of golf expressly forbid a DQ in this case. Despite your weak arguments, TW, like Guan, “took the high road” and admitted his mistake after conferring with officials.

    If he wins, and I hope he does– there will be no asterisk, no tainted legacy; just the same old armchair zebras with the same grudge.

    • Bern

      Apr 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Amen

    • sam

      Apr 14, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Tiger could not have felt he was within the rules of golf. The rule says to drop the ball as near as possible to the spot it had been hit from. Instead Tiger moved it back to a spot he felt he could hit a better shot. Also the committee favored him by not calling him in to discuss drop, instead because they didn’t want him penalized at all they approved a clearly improper drop, after their “careful review”

  15. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    We’ll take these one by one…Jingo, either he’s oblivious to a rule like DJ was at Whistling Straits or he’s a cad, right?

    Amber, I agree that they went out of their way to penalize Guan, so why wouldn’t they hold a high-profile player to the same standard? I suspect that the Masters competition committee recognized a way out and took the path of lesser resistance.

    Mat, I’d love to know what in the article led you to believe that it was written for a trolling purpose. Trolling for what? Your input is important.

    Chris, we can hope that they would not have DQ’d the young man. Imagine if he had missed the cut by that one stroke and then Tiger had gotten away with his misstep in the same three-hour period. Now THAT would have given us something to write about.

  16. jingo

    Apr 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Tiger DQed – doesn’t matter his intention – what a cad!

  17. Mat

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Oh gag me. The rules were adjusted EXACTLY for this reason. The rules officials didn’t think he did anything wrong until later in the evening. So he, his caddy, his playing partners, and none of the officials knew. Now, instead of being harsh, the rules were adjusted for all players to remove one of the dumbest outcomes in sport, and you think he should be somehow altruistic by eschewing the new rule and applying for your mythical sainthood?

    This article is basically trolling. No substance, and nothing of value.

    • Amber

      Apr 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Agree with this. You’d think there would be an official on hand especially during his decision making and yet they went out of their way to approach the 14 year old. Come on, its pathetic how much people want to jump at the option of defacing Tiger more than he’s already done to himself over the years. Just let them play golf.

    • David

      Apr 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      The rule is for High Def slow mo replays causing wrong cards to be signed, not for people not knowing the rules.

  18. Chris

    Apr 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Well said!

    No doubt had it been the 14 year old Guan that signed an incorrect scorecard he would be DQ’d and watching from the sidelines.

    Two glaring examples in one tourney of how selectively the rules may be applied.

    • Evan

      Apr 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

      I think we can eliminate the idea floating out there that Tiger intended to cheat or get an advantage outside of the rules. I think commentators like Faldo are using words that make the casual golfer or non golfing spectators (which the masters has many) think that Tiger has done something intentional. Old pros say these things because they are part of an old club that thinks you should fall on your sword whenever possible. I would also like to state that I am not a ‘Tiger fan’ except for appreciating his play when it’s good. I typically root for the field.

      1. He has NO history of taking liberties outside of the rules of golf and has been the most watched golfer of all time, not even close.

      2. Anyone saying that he got off easy is crazy in my opinion. He played that hole (15) perfectly, twice, and got extremely unlucky. Without hitting the flagstick, Tiger would have most likely made 4 and would leading the tournament right now. Instead he carded what amounted to an 8 on 15 (without hitting a bad shot). I think, and most people that have played in a tournament or higher level of golf would agree that two shots on top of the already bad break he took on 15 would be devastating and no player could keep it together and stay in contention.

      3. On hole 15 and afterward (until his interview), no one questioned that any rule had been broken. Any player other than Tiger Woods would probably not have talked in detail about the drop, which was the only thing that incriminated him.

      4. I like the ruling by the committee, I think it was plenty severe especially considering what he already endured on that hole. A DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard is primarily in place to prevent players from scoring the card INCORRECTLY! The penalty needs to fit the crime… if I play a round of golf in 76 and I incorrectly (on purpose or not) score the card a 72 and it is signed, the only way to remedy my position in the tournament is a DQ. A two shot penalty at the end of the round would only give me a 74, still improving my position by two shots. That is why importance is placed on signing a properly scored card to prevent any type of score ‘fixing’, not to overlap with rulings and misinterpretations on the course.

      5. I think the rules of golf and course layouts (hazards and OB) need to be simplified. Even rules officials have to consult there USGA book. There are many important rules in golf that should be respected and upheld but there are so many variations and interpretations that it slows the game down and makes it intimidating. I think the USGA should try to revise the rules to half the size or less than the current rule book is. I don’t think it would take anything away from the game. How many pros have been penalized or DQ’d over the years for rules that simply don’t make since, are overly complicated, or we could just do without?

      • Evan

        Apr 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

        Also I might like to add that in any other sport or with any other athlete we would not be calling this ruling into question or mentioning an asterisk if he wins. Leave the rulings to the rules officials, stop playing armchair referee. I feel this has taken a bit away from a so far great Masters tournament.

        • Ronald Montesano

          Apr 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

          Evan and J (is that short for Joshua)?

          I absolutely agree that no phone call should ever be brought into a rules debate. No other sport allows it and golf should not, either.

          HOWEVER, we have to follow the rules as they are currently written in order to avoid chaos and mockery of history (J, you referenced history, right?)

          I was initially supportive of the amendment to rule 33, but if it is used like it was at the Masters, it will offer a loophole to avoid nearly every penalty on the books.

          • Evan

            Apr 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

            I don’t believe (and neither does the Masters committee) that the ruling makes a mockery of history. I believe that they feel that what transpired does not even close to warrant a DQ and took awhile to sort out if he should even be penalized 2 shots. It seems they chose the best option within the rules. To question the Masters officials and committee members is quite bold IMO as these are some of the top officials in all of golf and the Masters is not a tournament that is swayed or intimidated by any single player. Even Tiger Woods.

          • bob

            Apr 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm

            rules committees like referees,umpires and other officials need to be reminded that the game iss played by PLAYERS ,watched by SPECTATORS ,AND CONFUSED by OFFICIATORS. O yah I am still waiting for VJs suspension.

    • TWShoot67

      Apr 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      your dead wrong. tiger didn’t have a ref come up to him at anytime during or after round. why don’t you leave your hatred for Tiger out of what really happened>

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Opinion & Analysis

“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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Opinion & Analysis

12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential

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What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Valero Texas Open

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With one of the weakest fields of the year, TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open this week. Only one player from the top-20 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up here. That man is Sergio Garcia, who co-designed this course with Greg Norman.

Just like last week at the RBC Heritage, the wind can wreak havoc at TPC San Antonio. The course features an exposed layout, making the level of wind is often unpredictable. Expect it to be a factor yet again this year. Unlike last week, the longer hitters do have an advantage on this course, which measuring more than 7,400 yards with little rough off the tee.

Last year, Kevin Chappell held off a charging Brooks Koepka to post 12-under par and win his first title on the PGA Tour.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Sergio Garcia 14/1
  • Matt Kuchar 18/1
  • Charley Hoffman 18/1
  • Luke List 25/1
  • Ryan Moore 28/1
  • Kevin Chappell 28/1
  • Adam Scott 30/1

From the top of the market, it’s hard not to love Luke List (25/1, DK Price $10,000) this week. The big-hitting American is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour, but he is knocking on the door relentlessly. In his last eight events, List has finished no worse than T-26.

He was so close once again last week, and he should take plenty of confidence from that performance onto a course that theoretically should suit him much better. On this long track, List will have a significant advantage as one of the longest hitters on Tour. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 1st in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green. List is also flushing his irons. He was second in the field last week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, and over his previous 24 rounds he sits 3rd in the same category.

It’s not only his long game that is highly proficient right now, either. List’s short game has been stellar over this impressive stretch, too. He ranks 8th for Strokes Gained-Around the Green and 28th for Strokes Gained-Short Game over his last 24 rounds.

The one department holding the big man back is his putting, where he ranks 145th for the season. The rest of his game is so sharp at the moment that he’s in the enviable position of not needing that hot a week with the flat-stick to win. He only needs an average week on the greens to finally break through and claim his first PGA Tour event. There’s nothing to suggest List isn’t going to play well once more this week, and at 25/1 he seems undervalued.

Returning to a track that he adores, Brendan Steele (33/1, DK Price $8,900) is always a danger at this event. As well as winning the title here in 2011, Steele has finished in the top-20 three times since then. Whatever it is about TPC San Antonio, it’s a course that brings out the best in Steele’s game.

It’s been an excellent season for the West Coast native, too. He won his opening event of the season at the Safeway Open and has since finished in the top-30 six times. One of the main reasons for his strong run of form has been his work with the driver. Steele is ranked 1st in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds, and he has only failed to post a positive Strokes Gained statistic in this category once since this event last year.

Recently, Steele’s game is showing trends that he may once more be close to hitting the form that saw him win at the back end of last year. In his previous 24 rounds, the Californian is ranked 10th in Ball Striking and 7th in Strokes Gained-Total. Always a threat at this event, Steele is coming into this week with all parts of his game in sync. He should be a live threat once more in San Antonio.

Another man who has played well all year is Xander Schauffele (35/1, DK Price $8,800). The Californian has made seven of eight cuts this year, and he has finished in the top-25 in four of those occasions. Excellent off the tee, TPC San Antonio should suit the 24-year-old this week, too. Schaufelle ranks 7th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 17th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds.

With wind likely to play a factor this week, pure ball striking will be necessary. That shouldn’t be an issue for Xander, who sits 7th in Strokes Gained-Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. There is nothing off about Schauffele’s game right now. He ranks 21st in Strokes Gained-Putting over his previous 12 rounds and 5th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green over the same period. It’s only a matter of time before the two-time PGA Tour winner puts himself in the thick of contention again, and there’s no reason why it can’t be this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Luke List 25/1, DK Price $10,000
  • Brendan Steele 33/1, DK Price $8,900
  • Xander Schauffele 35/1, DK Price $8,800
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