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Ernie Els Wins And…Apologizes?

Tiger takes a knee! Wait…no, that’s not right…that’s football. Hmm…okay: Tiger slides into home plate and the dirt flies! No, wait…that’s baseball. Oh, yeah, that’s right…Tiger plays golf. What was I thinking?

 

Well…as everyone knows by now the picture that is all over the internet regarding the British Open is of Tiger Woods. However, it is not the usual picture of the fist pumping in the air; or the small bow and wave to the crowd…no, no. This time it is of a man who took a shot (which he has done many times before.) But this time, he was captured in the dirt trying his absolute best to get a small white golf ball out of a bunker.

 

IF he had made it, that picture would be the ‘talk of the town.’ In fact, artists would probably paint a picture of it and auction it off for charity to the highest bidder. Tiger has a way of making those miracle shots and has proven over the years that if any golfer can do it, it’s him. But because he failed, all journalists are pouncing on the man as if he was the only one playing in the British Open, and his image in the dirt has already been debated, picked apart and laughed at, as he sits back and waits for the next professional championship to come along.

 

Yes, Tiger tried his best to save his own skin on the sixth green when he bent on one knee deep within that bunker, but he also went on to bogey three in a row – which didn’t exactly help his cause. Breaks the hart, doesn’t it? As the headlines state, poor Tiger is still stuck with only fourteen major championships. With any other person on the planet, in any sport, having fourteen championships under your belt would be a truly awe-inspiring accomplishment. Yet now everyone is already talking about how Tiger NEEDS to win the PGA Championship next month or he’ll have to wait until next spring to try and attain that elusive fifteenth victory when the Masters once again comes along.

 

Some ‘professionals’ are saying that this Tiger (and I’m not sure what other one they’re speaking of except maybe the younger version) is now far too stubborn and/or arrogant to win, and that’s why he just can’t seem to pull off those miracles he once could. Some are also comparing him to the great Jack Nicklaus who was also once picked apart as moving away from the attitude of ‘golfing for fun’ to the older version who came in with a game plan and analyzed beyond belief, which caused him to lose championship after championship.

 

But Tiger’s shot (which is now a disaster but could very well have been a miracle), is NOT the only thing that happened at the British Open, even though it’s the one piece of data that seems to be beaten to death around the globe this morning. What this writer found the most odd was the fact that the winner of the whole darn thing seemed far more upset and apologetic than he seemed happy to have won. Why is that? Because his friend was actually in the lead and was basically about to win, when he crumbled and fell one shot behind.

 

It was Ernie Els who walked away the winner as Adam Scott, his friend, decided to play it safe in order to not make ANY mistakes that would cost him the Open, yet then hit a triple bogey.

 

Ernie Els was actually calm. Yet after making a bogey on the ninth and finding himself six shots behind Scott, he upped his game and worked even harder by scoring four birdies.

 

Els’ quote about the Open was: “Crazy, crazy, crazy.” And you can’t sum the action up better than that. This was one of those championships where, over the course of the weekend, fans were back and forth as to who really had it in the bag. But…seems no one did. Yes, Tiger was the fan favorite and they were still cheering for him to end his drought and finally beat Nicklaus’ record number of championships won.

 

But when you look back on it, it wasn’t Tiger that was the real shocker of the day – at last not to me. Adam Scott was the one I felt bad for – and so did Ernie Els. Scott did have it in the bag with only four holes left to play. The Claret Jug was going to have his name engraved on it and everyone there pretty much knew it – even Ernie Els. At the age of thirty-two, Scott was primed and ready to take home the very first major championship of his career. But, seeing as that sports is never a given, he probably should have been prepared for a finale that might not fit what he was hoping for.

 

A bogey appeared…three times in a row. And then, on the 18th, Scott had the shot of forcing a playoff with Els but he missed the putt and ended up on his knees in utter surprise. And Els – the winner – seemed upset about the turn of events. In fact, he said: “I feel for Adam. I really didn’t mind going to a playoff. He probably didn’t feel that. But I was, at best, hoping for a playoff on the putting green.”

 

I’m serious. Els seemed more like a man who wanted to turn back time so that his friend could have won. He apologized and told Scott that he was a great friend of his and that he would win many of the ‘silver’ awards before his career came to an end.

 

Of course, now the big news will be watching whether or not this collapse and loss makes Adam Scott into a ‘could have been a contender’ golfer, or a man who fights back ad decides to pretty much take ALL the trophies from here on out just to prove that this failure was a one time experience.

 

No matter how anyone looks at this game it is Adam Scott who deserves a second look. He is the one who has to live with a serious blow to the ego and pull himself up and away from the ‘bad day’ in order to fight the good fight the next time around.

 

As for Tiger? Come on, everybody – lighten up! The guy, yes, was the ‘best of the best’ and unbeatable. But it doesn’t mean that ANY golfer can keep that perfection up year after year after year. Tiger is going to have some bad days, too. It’s just absolutely natural. And until the 15th championship is in his pocket, I have a feeling that fourteen isn’t exactly a tough number for Tiger to live with.

 

This Moment in sports is brought to you by:   www.befirstinc.com

 

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