The British Open was dominated by the young guys, particularly Rory McIlroy, who always dominates tournaments when he has his game going.
The guy has three majors to his credit before he has reached the age of 25. Only the two greatest golfers in history, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, can say they have accomplished that mark. The young guns of the game have begun to flex their muscle and are rapidly becoming the new favorites in the big tournaments.
Names like Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods remain old fan favorites, but youth and vitality have now set the stage in the world of golf. Names like Mcllroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson are the new faces of golf. This generation of pro golfers are athletes in great shape. They train like all of the rest of the sports superstars in football, basketball and baseball. They weight train and eat properly in order to compete with their peers.
The days of John Daly eating six cheeseburgers and chasing it with a six pack of beer are over. Most people who do not play the game of golf don't realize the physical and mental challenge of the game. You have to be super tough mentally.
I shared with the guys on the course the other day that if I still coached football I would make the quarterbacks play with me twice a week during the summer so they could work on their mental toughness. Golf is a game of failure, not success. The way you handle your failures during the course of a round will determine your success. If you make a bad shot, you need to immediately put it out of your mind and only focus on the next shot, which is totally against human nature.
Even if you play by yourself, you are still challenged by your biggest competitor – yourself. The only other sport you can compare it to is baseball, which is also a game of failure. If you go 1 for 4, you are considered to have an average day in baseball. That equates to failing one out of four times, which could get you into a position of being considered for the sport's Hall of Fame.
Golf is the more difficult of the two because you have to hit another shot right away – even if you shanked one into the water or woods. At least in baseball you can return to the field or bench and contemplate your attack at the plate in the next two or three innings.
I guess that is why after I have battled all summer through golf and baseball, by the time football season arrives I am about ready to hit someone. It is amazing to watch professional golfers play at the highest level and have the ability to move on to the next shot at a drop of a hat.
Pro golfer Hale Irwin once stated, “I’m trying to never get mad at outside influences – the gallery, a bad bounce, the weather. I’m pointing the finger at myself. It has taken time for me to get to know my game and myself, but I am getting there. If some problem or anxiety is bothering me, I try to bring it out, dissect it logically and deal with it. That’s why I’m playing better. I’m more comfortable with myself. I’m more me.”
If you are playing sports like football or soccer, you just try to take it out on the other team or even on your own teammates. There can be no flopping or crying in golf. You are on an island all alone to make the shot.
The great Gary Player said it best after he won the 1974 Masters Championship: “I knew I was going to win on the first tee. It’s the best golf I’ve ever played in a major championship, all the way. When I work for something, I expect it to happen. No one works as hard at golf as I do. No athlete has ever traveled as much as I have. I say all this only to try to make everybody understand what it means to me to win. There’s no way to properly describe the gratification from working so hard, and then be rewarded for it.”
• Derek Jeter went out in style in his final All-Star Game. The media types who try to make something out of nothing make me sick. Adam Wainwright grooved two fastballs to the Yankee captain. Do you really realize how hard it is to hit a baseball that is thrown at 95 mph? The media gurus have no clue.
• USA Today has the top five teams in college football as the following: 1. Florida State; 2. Ohio State; 3. Alabama; 4. Oregon; No. 5. South Carolina. USA Today has Missouri at 43, Kansas State at 14 and Kansas at 112.
• My quote of the week comes from eight-time major golf champion and Kansas City native Tom Watson: “Sometimes you have to lose major championships before you can win them. It’s the price you pay for maturing. The more times you can put yourself in pressure situations – the more times you compete – the better off you are. It’s a learning experience that’s worth a fortune.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org