The Players round one: If only Rory's game was as big as his mouth
Rory Sabbatini has a rather pugilistic appearance, though I’d better watch what I say in case it earns me a “Glasgow kiss”. He certainly doesn’t pull his verbal punches, sending the golfing world into a lather over Thursday’s “where are you” jibe at Tiger Woods.
Why is everyone so upset? Isn’t it all part of the healthy cut and thrust of competitive sport? I forgot, we’re all meant to bow down at the Tiger shrine. How silly of me.
The only thing that upsets me is Sabbatini’s record of failing to put his money where his mouth is. Look what happened last week when he told Tiger to bring it on. A glance at Sabbatini’s stats will tell you what an unconvincing affair his opening 67 was. A hot putter clearly got him out of trouble.
Hopefully his words will spur Tiger to get a grip of his putter and climb back toward the top of the leaderboard. You look at Woods’s birdie-free first round 75 and wonder how he can say “I hit the ball pretty good today". Distance-wise maybe, but for the more vital remainder, forget it. The stats are quite clear - the top three on the leaderboard average 90th place or worse for both accuracy and distance off the tee. For greens in regulation it’s 25th and putts per GIR 16th.
Clearly the high winds disagreed with Tiger, although it was his putter that really let him down. Looks like it’s going to be less windy Friday, so although Tiger goes out in the slightly tougher afternoon conditions he has an excellent chance to stuff Rory’s words back down his throat again. At a price of about 10 that’s a tasty prospect.
This is certainly the day for stragglers to catch the leaders, although it could also be the day for Phil Mickelson to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck and show just how much he’s back on track. An interesting stat is that the last three times he’s led after round one he’s gone on to win.
The big surprise of course is the sudden appearance of Chris DiMarco, who hasn’t been an item since running Tiger close at Hoylake last year. Now we learn he’s been carrying a shoulder injury all this while. Thanks for telling us Chris.
Jim Furyk too was putting in a very tasty round until he fell horribly foul of the dreaded 17th hole. Not only is it a challenge off the tee, but it’s not much easier from the drop zone. It must have been the wind that helped 50 balls into the drink - only nine balls short of the total for all four rounds last year.
It might be gimmicky as Tiger says, but it’s hellishly popular with the fans and is likely to have a serious influence on the outcome of this tournament. Furyk certainly won’t be the last to suffer.
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Jeez, let Sabbatini babble all he wants,
the crowds love it and so does Tiger.
He just gets grittier when challenged like that.
Beisdes, it gives the commentators something more
to talk about than their usual boring montage of
hackneyed cliches and usually nonsensical chatter.
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