Monday, August 6, 2007

The Monday Wrapup

The number one male and female golfers in the world proved their mettle this weekend

Woods shot the best round of the day (by two strokes over Rod Pampling and Sergio Garcia) on a rainy Sunday where players were sent out in threesomes early to beat inclement weather heading for Akron. This is the sixth time Woods has won this event and the third year in a row. The victory is the third PGA Tour win for Woods this year, the only player this year to win that many, and it provides him some momentum into the PGA Championship, where he will be the defending champion. The AT&T National might be getting jealous; Tiger Woods also owns the Bridgestone.

Enough about Woods, how about Rory 'Chickenhawk' Sabbatini?

Losing to Tiger Woods isn't a crime, no one else could keep up with him Sunday. Mouthing off that the Tiger of today isn't as dominant as the Tiger of 2000 is technically accurate, if not the smartest thing to say out loud. Giving Tiger Woods added motavation may seem silly, but I'd rather golfers in the Tiger era take on the best player than defer to him (it is probably a good idea to use their inside voice instead of looking for the closest microphone, but different strokes for different folks).
What shouldn't be done is what Sabbatini did Sunday, quitely leave center stage when the world is looking. After a birdie on the first hole, Sabbatini went five over par the next nine holes. Even if Tiger played par golf over that stretch (he went 3 under par), he would have been four shots ahead of his fellow Nike endorser.
Failing early doesn't get the label that failing late does, just ask Phil Michelson. Sergio Garcia did this last year at the Open paired with Tiger and Stuart Appleby did it this year at the AT&T National and last year at the Masters. In some ways it says more about the athlete than failing late; it takes a level of athletic bravery to play a high level when the pressure is at its highest. It is easier to fade back when it gets hot; then you don't have to see if you can face late pressure.
Sabbatini already has had a great career in golf. I question if when his career ends, it will be able to cash the check his mouth regualrly writes.
The Major Mono (monkey in Spanish) is off Ochoa's back. Her prior failures are now in the 'learning how to win' category. Which would be bull, you don't get to be the number one golfer in the world without knowing how to win. What got her the win is blowing the field away in the first three rounds (she was six shot clear after the third round), and keeping it on the course Sunday.
The depth at the top of the LPGA is pretty good (especially if Annika Sorenstam fully recovers from her neck injury), but this win could propel Ochoa to an all-time season in 2008. She already has the LPGA Player of the year sewed up; she could decide to compete in triathlons (she's done so in the past) for the next six months and still would win.

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