In every sport, there is good, bad, and ugly. Over the last few weeks I've seen a little bit of each. Of course there is some Tiger and a bit of Love, but I won't even spare myself from the steely glare of the Numbers Game microscope.
This week in The Numbers Game I'll break down what I thought was good, bad, and ugly in all of golf, including my own game.
Tiger is the most obvious one. Good is simply not a strong enough adjective. Tiger has been nearly perfect in his 2006 campaign. With his last victory, Tiger has:
- Won his last four starts including two majors.
- Finished in the top three in 75% of the tournaments he's played this year.
- Tied Byron Nelson for fifth all time in wins (52).
- Gone over $63 million in career earnings.
- Moved his lead in the Offical World Golf Rankings to 13.31.
Two things that are impressive about his huge OWGR lead. First, it was only 6.03 on July 2. Second, his lead over second (Phil Mickelson) is larger than anyone else has in points. Heck, it's almost as much as the points values of the next three player combined!
So what's next for Tiger? He probably has in his sights Arnold Palmer's 62 career victories. If Tiger gets a couple more this year, I wouldn't put it past him to catch Palmer by the end of 2007. How good is that?
I've got to give some props to Tom Lehman as well. His captain's pick of Stewart Cink is looking pretty good at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a second-place finish. Last week I talked about those picks a little bit and liked them as well. Two players close to making the team - Davis Love III and Lucas Glover - both played really well but not better than Cink.
Cink was a Tiger victim in a playoff, but he put to rest any doubt about his selection by Tom Lehman. We'll find out if Tom is still in the "good" category later next month. There haven't been many people questioning his picks, so let's hope the pundits aren't second guessing them after the Ryder Cup is finished.
The last "good" is the Amateur Champion, Richie Ramsay. He's the first Scot to win the U.S. Amateur Championship since 1898… 108 years ago. I think Noah was still floating around in a boat back then.
Ramsay was never down in the afternoon after going 2-up in the first 18. What cinched it for Ramsay was his ballstriking in the afternoon. He only missed two fairways and one green. Seventeen greens is going to help your score even if you have an off-day putting. Ramsay didn't though and he held a 2-up advantage from the 25th hole on.
There might not have been much drama in the match, but you have to like those ball-striking numbers from Ramsay.
Speaking of the U.S. Amateur, could you imagine overcoming penalties in your quarter- and semi-final matches to win? Richie Ramsay did just that.
Ramsay just shrugged it off. Normally if you give opponents of this skill a free hole or two, it will be nearly impossible to overcome. I would consider it a bad practice. At that level of competition you rarely see infractions like that. If Richie wants to compete at a higher level, he won't be able to recover so easily.
Davis Love III started the last two tournaments on fire. At the PGA Championship, when his Ryder Cup candidacy was on the line, he faded off into the background finishing 34th. Last week at Firestone he had a chance to redeem himself. He was in the final pairing Saturday with Tiger and got it to -11 after a birdie on #10. Davis had taken advantage of a surprisingly bad start by Tiger to put some distance between himself and the rest of the field.
But once again, Davis couldn't hold on. He bogeyed three holes coming in and started the final round with a double. The fourth-place finish wasn't all that bad, but I'm starting to wonder if Davis will ever see the inside of a winner's circle again.
There really hasn't been too much ugly in the past few weeks of golf. I won't re-hash the debacle at the U.S. Open. That's old news (even though Phil Mickelson still hasn't recovered).
Sergio's putting is still ugly and will continue to cost him wins and any shot at a major. I'm still amazed that he was, at one time, one of the top putters on tour. He has fallen so far and you can see it just kills him that he can't find the stroke that he once had.
Sergio's problems don't hold a candle to mine though. A couple weeks ago we had our club championship and I finished four shots behind the eventual champion. What's ugly about that? I missed four putts inside three feet… that's what.
I've been trying a couple new things with the putter and had some mild success. The final round was anything but mild though. It felt like I had mild nausea when standing over the short putts. I didn't hit the ball all that well, but you get sick throwing shots away on the green.
You'd think I'd learn my lesson, but the next day I had three three-putts. What made this even more ugly was that I shot a 71. Take away those three putts and it drops to a 68. Frustrating might be a good word for it as well, but to the innocent bystander, ugly should do.