|Tiger Woods earned his 73rd PGA Tour victory, tying Jack Nicklaus, on Sunday at the Memorial. (Getty Images)|
Golf is probably the hardest sport in the world to play, and play well, so it makes total sense that everyone is a critic, and that's what we're going to do here at Monday Morning Swing Coach. Cover just the PGA Tour? Nope. We're going to try to expand this Monday feature to anything and everything that happened the past weekend.
It was easy to head into Sunday without much expectation about the potential of a Tiger Woods victory. For all the times Tiger has raised a trophy over his professional career, doing it a few shots back has never been his forte. Woods is the superstar that is great when leading and forgettable when trailing and every golf fan has come to know that for fact.
But the entire day at Memorial felt different (partial blame goes to Spencer Levin's pants). Tiger opened with four birdies over his first seven holes, including a three hole stretch of circles, and no leader was really making an enormous charge. When Rory Sabbatini stumbled on No. 16 and Woods hit the Shot Heard Round the Globe, the tournament seemed destined to be Tiger's 73rd career win.
And it should have been. It absolutely should have been. For a guy who has been as up and down as Tiger has the last few years, it seems comfortable to see him play as well as he is playing at the events hosted by the legends. Tiger broke through two months ago at Arnold Palmer's tournament, cruising to a victory that ended a nasty slump, but this event seemed in perfect harmony with something Nicklaus did late in his career.
"Vintage Tiger" might be something we throw around a lot when talking about the way Woods used to win golf tournaments, but the way the leaders seem to fade away when Tiger starts carding birdies showed that the man still has an intimidation factor that few golfers possess. No, it isn't always something that will scare golfers, but when the other professionals see that Tiger came to play, their games seem to dissolve as Tiger's goes up a notch (If you don't believe me, look at his playing partner, Rickie Fowler's, scorecard on Sunday).
Tiger's win was also a reminder of just how great the guy has been for so long. His win ties him with Nicklaus for career PGA Tour titles 10 years before Jack did it, and it happened on a week that Rory McIlroy, the heir apparent, missed a cut that ties him with Woods for as many missed cuts as both have in their entire career (Rory is 13 years younger than Tiger in case you were wondering).
The last thing Tiger's play on Sunday did is simply show us that nobody really knows what to expect from this crazy sport. Some weeks Tiger is going to go out with a golf swing that produces more f-bombs than birdies, and some weeks he is going to flag golf shots that propels him to the top of the leader board. This is 2012, and two wins ties you for the most on tour, but don't think that this win is somehow going to make him some elite golfer that beats the pants off his playing partners week in and week out. Woods will be the favorite heading into Olympic Club, as he should be, but that doesn't mean he's some shoe-in to win the U.S. Open. Tiger's golf swing is very much like everyone else's on the planet these days: Some weeks it makes the flight and some weeks it isn't anywhere to be found. Lucky for us, it decided to show up in Ohio, and we got to see some Tiger Woods we haven't seen in years.
Phil Mickelson and the cell phone issue
While Tiger Woods was doing this on Sunday at the Memorial, Phil Mickelson was somewhere hanging out with his family far from Muirfield Village. After a Thursday 79, Mickelson decided to do something he rarely does -- withdraw from a PGA Tour event -- the first time he has done such a thing since this event in 2007.
Some are speculating that Phil might have done this because of all the ruckus caused by cell phones taking pictures during his round, something that seemed to be bothering him throughout his opening round at the Memorial, and I have two points to make about this.
First, it isn't like the Memorial is the first event to let cell phones on the grounds. Phil is always the second biggest draw in golf when he heads to an event, and I'm sure this is something that happens everywhere that doesn't have guys walking around in green coats. You're a superstar and everyone else is dealing with this so just understand that it is part of the game and while it might be annoying to have cameras going off in your backswing, focus in and learn to deal with it.
Second, if you are a fan heading to a golf tournament, turn your phone's noises off. It isn't that hard, just figure out how to take a picture without the "capture" noise going off and then snap away all day. If you are going to be one of those people with your phones out at a golf tournament taking grainy photos of Phil, Tiger and Bubba, the least you could do is figure out how to do it without any noise.
It's a respect thing, and it should be your top priority as a fan not to interfere with a golfer while they're playing.
Stacy Lewis did her own Tiger impersonation
Remember back in the days when Tiger Woods would win golf tournaments by a John Daly drive? He'd be leading by so many shots heading into the final round that the only question was who was going to finish second, or how many stinger irons Tiger was going to hit?
It was a different type of fun back then, watching a golfer at the peak of his game carving out another incredible win. You didn't have to look too far for something like that on Sunday. Stacy Lewis, a 27-year-old American, went into the LPGA ShopRite Classic with a seven-shot lead on Sunday, telling reporters her goal on Sunday was to see how many shots she could win by.
Lewis ended up besting Katherine Hull by four shots, snagging her second LPGA win of the year and her third in the last 13 months. Lewis went into 2012 mentioning her goal was to be the top American golfer, and her win already wrapped that up with a major championship on the horizon.
This was supposed to be The Year of the Yani on the LPGA Tour, but Lewis has been incredibly solid and her win is a big one for American golf. If she could claim an additional major this week at the LPGA Championship, it would most certainly be the Year of the Lewis.
My thoughts for Lewis heading into this event? See how many shots you can win by. That idea seems to be working for you.