"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I would suggest getting your mind out of
the gutter. Label it wishful thinking on your part. It was the type that Sean
O'Hair displayed at Bay Hill this past weekend. Call it Talent of another and
Awe on the part of the youngster. Do not tell me that intimidation does not
work, that it is not a factor when Tiger Woods is on the prowl, like that for
which he is nicknamed stalking its prey. In this case, O'Hair was the latter,
and it could not have been more evident if he just sold his clubs to a
spectator after the first six holes.
The pressure was growing and, although he did not toss in the towel, he
certainly was struggling mightily with the flat stick, as evident with a
three-putt on seven. What's that old Yogi Berra saying?..."90-percent of putts
that are short, don't go in." The cardinal rule in golf is never to come up
short on a putt. Follow through, go for the hole, and get close on either
side or just past it. Do not decelerate, do not soften, and do not show
hesitancy or trepidation. Do not keep wondering how the other guy is doing.
Concentrate on your own game.
Sean O'Hair became a Tiger Woods' final-round victim with a 3-over, 73 on Sunday.
O'Hair seemed to rebound with a rock-solid par out of the rough on eight and a
great birdie on nine to take a two-shot lead into the final nine. However, the
advantage was short-lived, as O'Hair's club choice off the 10th tee was a
mistake, one which led to a bogey, and the heat was on again.
Woods plays to win. You cannot counter that by playing not to lose. He knows
when he has you. He can sense it. He stalks and seizes the moment of your
The crowd is with him. The announcers on TV cover him with plaudits and
adulation. They all do everything but leave the broadcast booth to kiss his...easy
now...driver. Not from the car, from the golf bag. There is an expectation
that he will win, you will lose. Get caught up in all that surrounds you when
playing with him in the final group and you can kiss the winner's cup and
check goodbye. O'Hair makes more than enough money annually to be comfortable,
very much so by normal standards. Woods eclipses that, as he does with just
about everyone else. The Tiger plays with only one thing in mind now. To
win. Nice. It is like Angelina Jolie walking down the street and not having
to worry about whether she will be noticed or not. She will be.
Tiger Woods will win. Not hindsight and he will not win them all. The choice
is to either beat him or advantage his errors and miscues. He does make and
suffer from them.
Winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational again was not written in the stars, or
on the wind. It was not inevitable. It never should have happened the way O'Hair
started out the first three days. He had every opportunity to widen his lead,
to play smarter and not take chances, to display an air of confidence during
the final round, not one of hesitancy. He was five strokes ahead on Sunday.
Like a horse race, if the leader does not see any posterior in front of him,
just keep running. If there was no name above yours on the leader board, do
not look back. Just push the game forward. The youngster could not do that.
I do not accept his commentaries and denials. The $1.08 million dollar check
was O'Hair's to present to Jackie, now pregnant with their third child,
although second place did not have "poverty-stricken" written on the bottom of
that check. A win with The Masters just ahead, skipping the Shell Houston
Open, would have been a nice springboard into Augusta. Can O'Hair be in
contention there, to take his game to the next level? That would be a major
So would considering replacing his caddy. Club selection at critical times by
Paul Tesori bordered on the incredulous. Maybe it is time to ask Steve Lucas,
his father-in-law, to reconsider turning the bag over in recent months. And
speaking of Lucas, the comments by Johnny Miller about O'Hair and his father
displayed a level of broadcast banality and absence of facts not normally
heard from network golf analysts. O'Hair's father was insensitive, uncaring,
apathetic and dispassionate. Jackie, Steve and Kathy (Steve's wife) are the
best thing that ever happened to O'Hair.
Yes, he is now ranked 28th in the world and one cannot look upon that and
deride it, nor deny that it is a heck of an accomplishment. But, like someone
earning $250,000 annually, that is not so impressive if it has been determined
that he ought to be earning twice as much. Sean O'Hair should be ranked
higher, should win more tournaments, should be able to look in the mirror and
know how good he is, how much better he can be. The endorsements, the money
from them, the ranking, and the checks for all the non-first place finishes
are not enough. It is time to play aggressively, to change his caddy once
again and to prepare with a different attitude and approach.
You do not make a rookie mistake on 10, you do not repeat that (coming up
short again) on the 16th at Bay Hill - wrong club and not hindsight. You do
not come in with a three over par 73. You do not come up short on your putt
on the 18th green. This was the fourth time that he was unable to hold a 54-
hole lead on the PGA Tour.
Woods knows he can win, will win. Others think that they can and therein lies
Sean O'Hair is a hell of a golfer. There is no denying that. However, it is
not enough. You cannot be the great actor that never won an Oscar; no less
ever got a nomination. Tiger's following resembles Arnie's Army of years
past, with fans standing five deep. You deal with it. You ignore it. You
play within yourself and not to keep Woods from taking the lead you have
guarded for three days. When Tiger's eyes say, "I'm coming for you" and he
sees "Oh s--t!" in yours, it won't be long before he is the one pumping his
fist in the air, not you.
Sean, you can do it. The talent is there, some of it yet to be unveiled. The
mental attitude and approach to the competition needs working. A new caddy
might be part of the answer. Separating the daring from the conservative and
evaluating both is a major factor. Believing that Tiger can be had...albeit
not that often...is a fact of life. Going to Augusta with "win" as the goal
would be a nice start.
Keep this in mind and think how sweet it can be. Will Tiger step
aside and make it any easier? You gotta be kidding!