Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Woods and the Net Crasher Squeeze Out Some Big Wins

You heard it here first folks. ESPN’s golf experts shied away from Tiger maybe because of his knee surgery, maybe because he was too obvious of a choice, who really knows. But ESPN.com’s predications were as such:

Bob Harig (ESPN.com contributor) – Phil Mickelson

Jason Sobel (ESPN.com golf writer) – Phil Mickelson

John Antonini (Golf World senior editor) - Phil Mickelson

Ron Sirak (Golf World executive editor) - Anthony Kim

Meanwhile, on the humble pages of The View Through Your Earpiece, yours truly was making the correct prediction. Not only did I pick Tiger Woods but I correctly suggested he would card a -1 this weekend at Torrey Pines. As a matter of fact, I was so confident with this pick it is the first text on our blog to be written in red.

Still, why Woods won really went beyond what I wrote (and anyone else for that matter). Yes, Woods has been dominant at Torrey Pines in years past, but this clearly was not the Torrey Pines that we had seen in years past. Increased yardage, five inch rough, short par 5s and long par 4s. With one of the strongest fields in golf, no one came close to the double digit red numbers that we had seen previous Buick Invitational events. Similarly, Woods’ knee didn’t really hold up, as predicted. But he persevered despite it. Just as he played through the pain he played through during the Masters, Woods grinded out a win that even he didn’t think he pull out.

Here are a couple parting thoughts on what was a great weekend in San Diego

- A prime-time nail biter involving Tiger Woods. The PGA could not have asked for a better set-up. With over 13 million viewers, it blew out the other networks and rivaled ABC’s coverage of the NBA finals, which immediately followed.

- Golf is not boaring! What’s wrong with you people??? Phil falls apart, Tiger claws back in the 4th round, Rocco claws back in the 18th hole playoff, and 5 rounds of golf and Tiger and Rocco still had the same score. So many storylines, so much excitement. Do me a favor and watch the British Open next month.

- The US Open Long Baller Theory continues to apply but just barely. Rocco Mediate (62nd in driving distance) would have turned the theory on its head. But Woods was second in the field in driving distance and a pretty pathetic 56th in fairways hit. Woods was stilling hitting greens in regulation (T-14th in the field) and putted well. This includes some pretty remarkable shots including two eagle putts in the fourth round, his approach on the 19th hole of the tie-breaker, his chip-in on 17 in the fourth round, and his shot out of the sand on the 15th during the playoff.

- Drive for Show and Putt for Dough. Woods and Mediate were tied for 11th in the field in putting. This is a pretty good ranking to have, as the top putters in the field are usually lower in the field because it takes them an extra shot to put it on the green. The first, second, and fourth ranked putters did not break the top 30.

- It will be hard for anyone to not cheer for Rocco Mediate in the future. The guy was all smiles throughout what was no doubt the most pressure he faced in his career. Although, as Johnny Miller interestingly pointed out, this might have been a psychological ploy to get Tiger off his game. I doubt it, but hats off to Rocco if he figured that one out.

- Phil Mickelson’s role as golf’s #2 should be seriously questioned after this week. The whole driver/no driver switch should not be viewed as a good adjustment but as a major lack of preparation on Phil’s part.

- It was nice to see Ernie Els put up a good number. I sure would love to see him win the British Open.

- Will Tiger be back to 100% for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 17? Will it matter?

- Bethpage Black in 2009. Can't wait! Nothing mixes better than New York fans and golf.

I could write a bunch of platitudes nows about how this was the greatest Open ever and how great of a sport golf is, but I'll leave that to the great writing of Gene Wojciechowski and Pat Forde.

Wojciechowski: Golf comes up aces: Tiger, Rocco save world of sports

Forde: A Torrey Story: Woods' win was greatest U.S. Open ever

That just about wraps it up. The weekend surpassed my already lofty expectations. Golf takes a little bit of a break over the next month, but you can bet your ass there will be a winning predication for the British in July.

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