Golf Tidbits: Retiring Golfers

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - No one should ever be told how they should retire, or that they have to retire.

Earlier this year, Annika Sorenstam announced she was retiring from competitive golf. In doing so, she set herself up for a long goodbye.

Prior to her announcement, Sorenstam had won three of her first eight starts, finished second twice and also had a fourth-place finish. Since her retirement announcement, she has finished in the top 10 just two times in 11 starts.

Is the emotion of the long goodbye affecting her play? Only she can answer that question. And if it is, she probably would not admit to it anyway.

Earlier this week, the star-crossed Jean Van de Velde announced he is going to scale back his '09 schedule, more or less setting up a slow entrance into retirement.

Van de Velde, of course, is best known for his gaffe at the 1999 British Open, where he triple-bogeyed the final hole costing himself the title. The lasting image of that day is Van de Velde, sans golf shoes, standing in the burn contemplating hitting a shot out of the water.

The Frenchman never took that shot, but by finding that watery grave, he cost himself the Claret Jug at Carnoustie. Van de Velde said he will play in hand- picked events next year, focusing on the tournaments that he really enjoys.

Earlier this week, in an interview with Reuters, Van de Velde reflected, "My career I can compare to a good bottle of wine. You take a glass and enjoy it; you take a second glass and really enjoy it; a third, then the bottle is getting empty."

The "retirements" of Sorenstam and Van De Velde came about for different reasons. Sorenstam wants to start a family and focus on other adventures outside of golf. Van de Velde's retirement is due to bad knees caused by a skiing accident some six years ago.

The question becomes, will either ever retire? Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus retired, but hung around for years competing in select events.

Which player stays retired for good? "Neither" is most likely the correct answer. My money says Sorenstam stays retired for at least three years, but eventually returns for two or three events a year.

Van de Velde is more likely to return and play a full schedule. Bad knees? Lots of golfers have them.

Get a knee replacement, bide your time til you turn 50 and become a full-time member of the European Seniors Tour. You can ride a cart on the Seniors Tour, so it won't be as difficult to compete.

Athletes retire, un-retire and retire again all the time. I'd list names, but there isn't enough time to find them all.

For my money, all athletes should go out like Rulon Gardner and retiring wrestlers do. After their last match, wrestlers walk to the center of the mat, remove their shoes and lay them down in the center circle and walk off. That's class.


It seems that every week, another media outlet has a report about when Tiger Woods will return to golf. Will it be at the Buick Open, the World Golf Championship - Accenture Match Play, or The Masters?

It isn't like people need to hear about Woods' recovery on a weekly basis. The world's best golfer is and has always been guarded with information about himself. One week we see that his rehab is going slower than normal, the next he is ahead of schedule.

People are just desperate to see him back in action. I get that, since I am one of them. You know when we'll see Woods on the golf course - when he feels that he is healthy enough to play.

Will that be at The Masters or before? Possibly. Will it be the U.S. Open next year? Hopefully. Only one person knows for sure, and he is hanging in a sweet estate somewhere near Orlando with his daughter and wife.

Of course, Tiger likes to tease us with public appearances such as watching the Phillies-Dodgers in Los Angeles or a promotional stop earlier this week, when he served as a caddie for a gentleman who won a contest to have a round with Tiger.

Every time he is seen in public, the question arises as to the status of his rehab. I know it is every reporter's duty to ask the question, but we don't need breaking news banners saying "Tiger likely to be ready for The Masters," every time he answers the question.

Let him disappear from headlines for a while, so that when he does return we can all watch in awe at how much better than every other golfer he is. Seriously, the guy won the U.S. Open on a broken leg and torn ligaments. How many other players on tour would have even made it through 72 holes that week, let alone the 91 he played?

We all want Tiger back at 100% and we want him back that way yesterday, but until he is back on the course, let's stop with the weekly updates about when he may or may not return.

Let's write more about Zach Johnson winning for the first time since May 2007, or more about Marc Turnesa adding to his family legacy that includes a great- uncle that won the PGA Championship and other relatives that have combined for more that 20 PGA Tour titles.


- Condolences to Camilo Villegas, whose uncle was killed in a robbery last weekend in Colombia.

- Erik Compton teed it up at the first stage of the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament this week, just five months after his second heart transplant. Through two rounds (76-75), Compton was five strokes over the number that would get him to the second stage. But his real victory was teeing it up at all.

- As far as her competitors were concerned, Morgan Pressel did not play the part of gracious host at Kapalua last weekend. The resort is one of her sponsors and what did she do? Pressel closed with rounds of 67-69 to beat Suzann Pettersen and win the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at
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