Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tiger Woods

Circa year 2000, Tiger Woods was dominating world golf in an unprecedented manner. He was hitting the ball further than anyone else, and by a significant margin. It was routine for Tiger to drive the ball 300 yards. In recent years, everyone else seems to have caught up. In fact, Tiger is no longer the longest driver of the ball. There seem to be two likely explanations for this:

(i) Tiger gained an advantage in club and ball technology before everyone else, and they've all now caught up.

(ii) Tiger had a pure natural ability advantage over everyone else, which the other golfers have now been able to negate by means of club and ball technology.

What is the truth here? If the latter is the case, then why hasn't Tiger been able to use technology to drive the ball further still? Gaining an advantage through technology is, of course, the very essence of Formula 1, but the golf world seems to be uncomfortable with this idea.

3 comments:

Susan B. said...

Andrew K. is the guy who can answer this question; I finally figured out from a few of his comments that he is a caddie on an Irish golf course.

Tonight I'm on the Sports desk of the paper and of course our big story is the Master's. As you know, Tiger did *not* win. But, man, can he drive. When he tees off, the club moves so fast it's a blur. But he doesn't need to hit it any farther than he already does -- he can make it to the green on any course -- so I think that's a non-issue.

Well, it *is* an issue, but probably more for someone like Michelle Wie, who'd like to play with the boys. Personally, I find watching the Master's nerve-wracking: Great chip shots go rolling off the green (at Augusta, the greens are like polished hardwood floors), perfect putts miss by a hair and sail on to the rough; fine drives get grabbed by the wind and thrown into the pines.

And the guy who finally won is the one who got the lucky breaks: I, for one, have never heard of Zach.

Gordon McCabe said...

Judging from the post-round interview with Zach, it seems the other players were unwittingly playing against God as well, so they didn't really stand a chance.

It was a rivetting final round to The Masters. When The Masters is closely-fought, it provides more drama than any other sporting contest I can think of. It becomes a tapestry of intertwining narratives. Amongst the major plot strands last night we had Justin Rose, struggling at first, falling back, then slowly recovering, mounting a final charge, before throwing it all away again.

The various sub-plots all revolve, however, around Tiger, who IS the main plot. Tiger is actually more thrilling when he's struggling slightly, as he has been this week. Seeing him retrieve pars from impossible situations, time and again, snapping clubs in the process, and then mounting a final push for victory, is gripping stuff.

Andrew said...

Was a caddie, Susan. I dodn't really follow golf but I think Tiger still probably can hit it longer than most/all, but for one thing he doesn't necessarily use his driver for teeing off, as hitting it as far as he can, for reasons too long to examine, isn't necessarily to his advantage...Oh hell, as the longer you hit it, the less likely it is to be on the fairway, and also being closer mightn't make the shot to the green any easier. I did watch some of the MAsters and the most astonishing moment was Tiger stopping his swing almost on the point of impact cos I think it was a bird flew behind him. That level of control is almost beyond comprehension of you have a bit of relevant knowledge here. I don't really think his outhitting people came from greater technology- he really has the most powerful and athletic swing. I saw him loosening up before playing on the course I caddied, and he's genuinely a superman when it comes to the body.