FanDuel - WFBC

December 16, 2007

Woods closes out the year with a seven-shot win: Okay, the guy takes 10 weeks off and still wins by 7 shots. And what's the deal with Rory Sabbatini?

posted by dbt302 to golf at 09:59 PM - 23 comments

The sports media has a weird standard when it comes to Tiger Woods and other golfers. The other guys are maligned for lacking the competitive spirit to take him on, but when Rory Sabbatini makes a frank but mostly innocuous comment that Woods looks like he might be more beatable, it's played like a grievous insult -- with Woods feeding that perception. Which is it? How does a golfer show the stones to take on Tiger while demonstrating absolute fealty to the notion that he's not remotely beatable? Now Sabbatini's early exit after three terrible rounds, which could involve injury since he's playing way below his level this year, is getting the You Dirty Bastard treatment. I hope Sabbatini takes a major from Woods next year. He's got the game to do it.

posted by rcade at 07:50 AM on December 17

In related news, worst trophy ever. If you're going to give a winner something ceramic, it should be a big-eyed puppy dog or a crying angel child.

posted by rcade at 07:53 AM on December 17

Another routine weekend of work for Woods, while Sabbatini obviously forgot his game but remembered his book of excuses. He was guaranteed $170,000 for last place, which I guess he felt he had all but locked up with his inspired play. It's loser attitudes like his that are one of the biggest obstacles to any player ever challenging Tiger in the long run. In the few tournaments where Woods is out of contention going into the last day, he often goes out and shoots a low score, moving up the final leaderboard as much as possible. Sabbatini's situation is just one more reason professional golf shouldn't guarantee so much cash to players who perform horribly. It only rewards guys for being mediocre, or worse. The late Payne Stewart recalled that, prior to his late-career surge he enjoyed he was only trying to play well enough to live comfortably, usually finishing a third of the way or so down the leaderboard. It wasn't until his wife pointed this out to him by basically asking him, Are you going to try and win anymore? If not, why don't you hang it up? When she told him that, he realized that's exactly what he was doing and rededicated himself to trying to win, not just collect a check. I'm sure many players today are only collecting checks, probably already knowing, in their minds, that they aren't going to win.

posted by dyams at 07:55 AM on December 17

Sabbatini doesn't fit that stereotype, Dyams. He had 10 top 10 finishes, won one tournament and is around eleventh in the world. That's how he ended up in this 16-player tournament where even last place drew a nice check.

posted by rcade at 08:04 AM on December 17

Looks like Sabbatini's peers weren't real proud of his withdrawing from the tournament. Maybe until he can consistently compete with Woods he should keep his mouth shut.

posted by whitedog65 at 08:16 AM on December 17

Since when has competitive spirit got anything to do with mouthing off? If you've got the stones to beat Woods, demonstrate that by beating Woods, not by saying that Woods can be beaten. Sabatini's comments about Woods were misguided, not because they were about Woods, but because it's golf and you're not playing the other guys, you're playing the course. Birdies are not finite, so Tiger shooting ten of them doesn't mean there are fewer out there for you. The media has tried to suck anyone they can into this kind of comment after Stephen Ames got smacked down because it makes the old "Tiger Wins Again!" story a bit more interesting. Woods feeds the perception because why wouldn't he? The more idiots there are out there who perceive "Tiger as enemy", the more chance there is that they'll fall apart in the closing stages if Woods is breathing down their necks. He plays this stuff exactly right and with the professionalism (and ruthlessness) that so many of the rest of them lack. Woods wins one in four of the tournaments he plays (roughly). Three times out of four, someone beats him. And yet the media has built this "how can he be beaten?" attitude. Quite easily, really. Just hit fewer shots. It happens 75% of the time. The irony is that it's the media trying to draw people into making silly comments in some hope of sparking a feud or rivallry that will make golf more interesting than "Tiger Wins Again!", and all they're achieving is the further mystification of the man, thereby reducing the likelihood of a true contender emerging. Cabrerra put it very well when he won the US Open. Some hack asked him "How does it feel to beat Tiger?" and Angel replied, "I didn't just beat Tiger... I beat everybody!" And yes - worst trophy ever.

posted by JJ at 09:57 AM on December 17

That trophy makes me want to start singing "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King (I know, it's not a lion, it's a tiger, but still...).

posted by dyams at 10:36 AM on December 17

Sabatini's comments about Woods were misguided, not because they were about Woods, but because it's golf and you're not playing the other guys, you're playing the course. That's kind of a weird way to look at it. A lot of golfers are one Tiger Woods away from some pretty big wins. It's not whether you beat the course, it's whether you beat the course more than everybody else did.

posted by rcade at 10:57 AM on December 17

Wow. It's like that trophy alone is extra incentive for Tiger to win. Not only is he currently the best golfer around, but they make trophies in honor of His Awesomeness.

posted by jmd82 at 10:58 AM on December 17

And yes - worst trophy ever. Mainly because if someone else wins . . . it'd be like sleeping with the cheerleader only to have her call out someone else's name, over and over and over.

posted by yerfatma at 10:59 AM on December 17

Sabbatini doesn't fit that stereotype, Dyams. He had 10 top 10 finishes Thinking back to what I said about Payne Stewart, he (his wife, actually) did actually ask him(self) if he was only concerned about top 10 finishes or actually wanted to win the tournaments. Stewart claims he found out he had become comfortable finishing top 10, and decided to start pushing for championships. The point is, any golfer with the talent to finish consistently in the top 10 can become a millionaire several times over without stressing about gunning for the leader.

posted by dyams at 11:03 AM on December 17

I've cheered for Rory over the years for largely the same reason others dislike him. First, he had the audacity to tell Sergio Garcia to hit the goddmn ball. It seemed the tedious ordeal of watching his opponent repeatedly regrip his club was starting to affect his round, so he said something. In the eyes of many, that made him an asshole. I happen to think he was entirely justified. Next, he has the unmitigated gall to speculate that Tiger might be beatable. ( As JJ pointed out earlier, that is decidedly the case. ) Sabbatini never even hinted that he or anybody else on the tour was a better player than Tiger, just that he could be beaten. Heresy! Fueled by the press taking the comment out of context, the American public's disdain for Rory grew like a wildfire. And now this. Not sure how to feel about this one. I'd love to say that Rory was well within the bound of good taste, especially if he was suffering from shin splints. I've had 'em, but sure as shit never tried to walk 72 holes on a golf course with them. He's playing poorly, no chance of winning, why not call it a week? I just find the response from his peers interesting. It sure seems like they're calling shenanigans on him, which leads me to believe that the case against him might be stronger than I previously thought. For the public, with their press filtered views, to dislike a player is one thing. It's another when one's peers regard him with disrespect. I'm interested to see how this plays out over the upcoming season.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:42 PM on December 17

I think the trophy is cool. It would make a great yard decoration. I can see them on each side of Tiger's walkway with the "Welcome" sign hanging from its neck.

posted by dbt302 at 01:53 PM on December 17

Well, I have a lot of respect for Monty. He carded a 80 in round one........ then proceeded to get to -7 and an tie for 8th the rest of the tournament. That's the definition of a professional. Rory, was one of 4 players (including TW) who shot 69 the first round... and were only one behind Furyk.... Then Rory shot 81 - 76.... and couldn't face the world for the last round... went sneaking out of town without a word to tournament director McLaughlin or Woods. Ok, maybe he DID have an injury... let's give him that benefit of the doubt for this arguments sake... but he lacked the decency to personally call his host or the director and chat a few seconds to explain his actions. Major bad manners. This is just not a definition of a professional. It is the definition of a poor sport!!!

posted by Fly_Piscator at 02:32 PM on December 17

That's the right view of the fact he walked out on the tournament - it's no big deal to withdraw (it happens most weeks I imagine), but there are ways to do it if you're injured, or even ways to do it so that the tour officials can SAY you were injured to avoid this kind of discussion! At the very least, he's guilty of being a bit careless. Part of me wants to say that if he wasn't really injured and just couldn't be arsed then it shows what kind of player he is and what kind of man he is and don't put money on him, but then again, Monty stuck it out to the end despite a bad start and look how many majors that has... helped him finish second in. It's not whether you beat the course, it's whether you beat the course more than everybody else did. I guess my point was more that what you're trying to beat week in, week out is a number. It's not like in tennis where you play six or seven games and tailor each one to your opponent. In golf, no one else's performance can alter your own unless you allow it to. The legacy of Tiger so far has been how much everyone seems to allow his presence on a leaderboard to affect them, or, perhaps more fairly, how good he has been at making everyone else feel his presence. Golf, perhaps more than any other sport, is about you alone. No one can tackle you. No one can pitch you an unplayable ball. No one can serve the ball unreachably wide at you, deflect your ball as it flies to the target or accidentally put the ball in their own goal on your behalf. You triumph or fail to based entirely on what you do. As soon as you start doubting that, or feeling like there's only one man to beat, you're done. I can't wait for someone to arrive and start winning regularly - someone with the hunger to do it for the glory and the game, and not for the security and the sponsorship deal. Someone who isn't there to dethrone anyone, but is simply there to win as often as possible. The very reason I like Tiger is that he does exactly that. He didn't turn up on the scene talking about anyone else, he just came and beat them all.

posted by JJ at 03:04 PM on December 17

Looks like Sabbatini's peers weren't real proud of his withdrawing from the tournament. I think, regardless of whatever you feel about Sabatini and his Tiger comments, that this little item carries some weight. Most of the other pros believed he was sucking out and, apparently, going to Maui for the holidays. Faldo was particularly incensed. That seems pretty disrespectful to an 16 man invite tourney. I could see one doing that for virtually every other tourney, but this one is a bit different. And not just because last place is worth $170,000. If he wants to regain a little legitimacy - he should give the money to a charity... A charity that Tiger doesn't like. Or use it to hire a Swedish nanny/looper and do the complete opposite of bridge building.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:27 PM on December 17

As soon as Sabbatini can routinely beat Tiger and give him the old what-for on the course, he should probably let his game...er..speak for itself. And I wonder where the little button is on the trophy that says "Try Me" and when you push it it plays "Hold that Tiger".

posted by THX-1138 at 08:29 PM on December 17

Mainly because if someone else wins . . . it'd be like sleeping with the cheerleader only to have her call out someone else's name, over and over and over. posted by yerfatma at 10:59 AM CST on December 17 Who cares....you still got to nail the cheerleader and there are ear plugs.

posted by commander cody at 10:44 PM on December 17

"Looks like Sabbatini's peers weren't real proud of his withdrawing from the tournament. Maybe until he can consistently compete with Woods he should keep his mouth shut. posted by whitedog65 at 8:16 AM CST on December 17" I agree. Woods did not mention Sabbatini apparently. Sabbatini seemed to have gotten panned by a number of the other golfers that were obviously out of the running for a win, but stuck it out for themselves and their fans. Until Woods win the grand slam (I do not think that will happen), many golfers will take a major from him each year, some years four golfers will take a major from him.

posted by Cave_Man at 10:47 PM on December 17

"Mainly because if someone else wins . . . it'd be like sleeping with the cheerleader only to have her call out someone else's name, over and over and over. posted by yerfatma at 10:59 AM CST on December 17" I'll take that, hell, I can't have everything.

posted by Cave_Man at 10:55 PM on December 17

This discussion made me go and look at the world rankings for the first time in a long time. As a rule, all rankings systems tend to be flawed, but even so... looks like Tiger could take next year off and still finish it as the best golfer in the world: 1 Tiger Woods, USA 19.62 2 Phil Mickelson, USA 8.72 3 Jim Furyk, USA 6.55 4 Ernie Els, Zaf 6.51 5 Steve Stricker, USA 6.45 6 Justin Rose, Eng 6.00 7 Adam Scott, Aus 5.81 8 Padraig Harrington, Irl 5.57 9 K.J. Choi, Kor 5.15 10 Vijay Singh, Fji 5.08 And of the other nine, who's threatening? Mickelson believed in himself for about 18 months, but ever since he didn't win the '06 US Open, he appears to have drifted back to hitting it as hard as he can and permanently smiling about how much money he has. Furyk is too old to suddenly become the next great force in golf (likewise Els, Stricker, Singh and Harrington). Rose and Scott are both young (although they've been around forever), but neither strikes me as having the fire required. Which leaves... KJ! In the rest of the top 50, the only guy I see who is young enough and screams potential like no one for a while is Andres Romero - and I'm basing that on seeing him nearly win the Open this year and then winning the following week, which is hardly a comprehensive study of his career.

posted by JJ at 04:30 AM on December 18

Who cares....you still got to nail the cheerleader and there are ear plugs. Just beautiful, cc, still lol. Something like the sentiment that the worst one I ever had was pretty damn good.

posted by Howard_T at 06:16 PM on December 18

Tiger is scary. He will have the best season ever next year. He has finally been able to replace the loss of his father and hugging him after matches with a new baby to hug after matches. It is great for him and will be great for golf for years to come.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 12:18 PM on December 20

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