Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hard Truth: Tiger Isn't a Good Putter

Coming into this week’s British Open (or The Open Championship for any European readers), one of the biggest stories on the Tiger Woods front was the decision to use a different style putter because of the speeds of the greens at St. Andrews.

This decision was criticized by analysts, who thought that abandoning a putter that had won him 14 majors and 80+ million in earnings was a mistake.

Then, in a span of the tournament, we heard them go from that view, to Tiger’s new putter is the next piece of technology that will revolutionize golf, back to the idea that he should make the switch back because he isn’t putting well.

I have a better idea about why he is struggling with his flat stick: he isn’t a good putter.

This might be a foreign concept to most, but that is because we spend all of our golf watching with Johnny Morgan in our ear telling us how amazing of a putter Tiger is the instant he makes a simple five or six foot putt.

Take a look at his rankings amongst his peers on putting the last six years:

2009: T20

2008: didn’t play enough to qualify for stat

2007: T48

2006: 137

2005: 33

2004: 20

Would you say those are the rankings of one of the best putters in our generation? I don’t think so.

As you can see, the lack of quality putting over the past tournaments isn’t a recent thing. It has been mediocre his entire career. What separates Tiger from the rest of the field is his amazing ball-striking. Putting is the wild card in the winning equation.

In all three majors this year, Tiger has hit the ball well enough to win-that goes double for the Masters, where he was playing as well as I have seem him play in years. Despite this fact, Tiger doesn’t have a Major Championship this year because of his failures with the putter.

Hell, it only makes sense that he change his putter…his old one wasn’t working for him.

Morgan would like to make you think that he “is having a tough day with the putter” every day that you see him, but the statistics that I have shown say otherwise.

Remember the scene in Happy Gilmore where Chubbs takes Happy to a miniature golf course to work on his putting? We might not be there quite yet, but we are close.

Woods seems to be struggling with reading putts, speed, and even having a consistent stroke. He is zero-for-three in putting skills.

Now, before I get struck by lightening for criticizing Tiger, I must say that I do believe Tiger Woods is still the best golfer in the World and that I do think that he will pass Jack Nicklaus in career Majors.

That being said, if he wins the five more majors he needs, it won’t be because of his putting, it will be in spite of it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NBA Free Agency: Much Ado About Nothing?

For two years now, basketball fans all over the country have been waiting for the free agency period that we are currently in.

They braced themselves for the max-exodus of seemingly every major player in the NBA and that it would surely mean that the power in the league would be turned upside-down as a result.

However, now that we are actually in the midst of it, the one question that is starting to form in many minds is whether or not anything will actually change.

So much time has been given to LeBron James leaving Cleveland and joining the like of the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls or even the New Jersey Nets, but here we are in July and most analysts are saying he will stay in Cleveland because of loyalty.

Dwayne Wade has also flirted with the Bulls, but as of right now, ESPN’s Chris Broussard has him returning to Miami.

When you add those names to the list of stars that have already resigned with their respective teams (Dirk Nowitski, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay and Joe Johnson), the question I ask is whether or not this free agency period was completely blown out of proportion.

Yes it is true that Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer are still on the market and that Amare Stoudemire signed with the Knicks, but are any of those guys the type to put a team over the likes of the Lakers, Celtics or the Magic?

Chicago, Miami, New York, and New Jersey all blew up their teams in preparation for this month and it is possible that New York is the only team that got any better by doing it. (Even if the Knicks can’t lure anybody else to them, they can resign David Lee and have a great front court with Eddy Curry’s contract coming off the books at the end of next season).

That all-or-nothing strategy is going to get someone fired…especially in Chicago where the Bulls actually made the playoffs with a fairly young team.

The only scenario where a shift in power could happen is if Cleveland and Toronto work out a sign and trade to unite Bosh and LeBron for the Cavaliers. LeBron would have the Pippen to his MJ and could overthrow the Lakers (maybe) as the NBA supreme.

Other than that, I honestly don’t see the status quo of the NBA changing all that much.

Even if Miami were to get Wade and Bosh, they wouldn’t have the funds to sign a decent supporting cast around them and beating a deep team like Boston in a seven game series would be a joke.

In conclusion, let me help make the rest of this week very anti-climactic for you; there will be no max-exodus of superstars, the balance of power will not be shifted, and all of this excitement was for nothing.

Sorry to be Debby-Downer.