the immediate future of tiger woods

as i was driving back from the movies last night (super-great tohoscope print of yojimbo at the stanford, thanks very much) i heard someone on national public radio (NPR), talking about tiger woods.

with certain notable exceptions, i don't watch TV, which, by default, means i also do not watch sports.

but i know about tiger woods.

i became aware of him from my favorite sports writer when tiger played golf at stanford.  the fact that he was local is what put him on my radar by nothing more than pure happenstance.  it was very clear to me then, as it was to anyone with at least half a mind who paid attention, that tiger was the next anointed child of golf.  it was obvious he was good, the big question was "how good?"

as he was finishing his first major event (i don't remember what it was), i was playing poker at the local poker room ... as with any casino worth its weight in reflective chrome, they had sports spewing endlessly and silently in the background, i watched intently between hands.  nearly everyone in the cardroom was ignoring his play, but i was rapt.  i figured the first big question about just what his career could be might be answered then and there.  as i am with most things in life, i was a tiger optimist; but i've been wrong before and i was certainly willing to take a free lesson while playing cards.

woods was tied for the lead and playing a sudden-death shoot-out.  the first hole was probably something like a par three (but could have been a two-shot par four) ... the direct line to the pin was over a daunting water hazard.  a safer approach was to play for the exposed end of the green and work your best with the shortest club in your bag ... but this almost certainly would mean a two-putt -- no golfer, no matter how great, will routinely sink 120 foot putts.

woods's challenger teed up (i don't remember whom -- some white guy) and in one gritty motion hit his ball into the water hazard.

the door was now open.

the obvious and easy play here is to shoot for the end of the green.  two-putt.  win.  shake a few hands.  hold a giant check.  talk about how much you love your parents.

but that's not what woods did.

he lined up straight at the hole, in a frame a mind that looked almost absent minded (but would become his trademark of concentration).  one smooth shot, straight over the water, a hop and a roll backward and his  ball comes to rest less that a foot away.

right there, right then, i knew i'd seen the future of golf.  people had doubted and challenged him.  "he's a good amateur, that's all."  "he's never truly been tried."  "being the best kid at your college means nothing."

i actually said, "man," under my breath, catching an queried glance from the dealer.

the cardroom continued to churn in dull, apathetic clicking, but i knew that in less than a year there wouldn't be anyone here who wouldn't know who "tiger woods" was.

okay, back to the present.

tiger's been away from golf for a few months now due to sexual improprieties (for lack of a better term) with women outside his marriage.  it's provided a feeding frenzy for the press-at-large, turning the entire industry yellower by the day.

last night, mr. NPR said that tiger's return to the masters was, from a golfing purist's point of view, a non-event.  "the question isn't whether he will win, it's whether he'll make the cut."



i come from a line of people that have trouble picking winners, but we can always spot a loser.  i can tell you with absolute certainty, mr. woods may be a lot of things -- most of which i don't care anything about -- but he is no loser.

no one in modern golf has ever endured the pressure that he's continually under all the time anyway.  anyone with a modicum of chemistry background can tell you that turning the burners up make make the pot boil faster, but it won't increase the temperature of the boil.  he'll play just fine the only real question in my mind is how much he's been able to practice since his reclusion/media explosion.

unlike nearly everyone else who plays cards, neither by trade, nor by hobby, am i a sports bettor.  but i'm always willing to make money when the opportunity presents itself. and for this, dear reader, i offer you a chance ... i'll give anyone reading this 'blog 2-to-1 for up to US$1000 that woods makes the cut at this coming masters.  if you don't like that you can give me 3-to-1 and i'll bet you he finishes in the top 10 of the event.

remember, you heard it here first.

oh yes, and my free advice to you?  don't take your sports tips from NPR.


lack of future vision by the present

in the most recent wii "everybody votes" poll, the question was:

will electronic books/newspapers ever replace printed books/newspapers?

44% of the people responding said "no" (and ND held the distinction of being the only state that had a majority saying nay).

this is not only wrong, but obviously wrong.  however people feel about books, magazines and newspapers today is based mostly on their previous experience with the medium.  you don't have to be a futurologist to know which will be cheaper (and ever-more-important, environmentally friendly) to produce. 

the question wasn't "when," it was "if." 

i wonder how the people of north dakota would have felt about papyrus back in the days of wax tablets.


quote of the moment

"Anybody who still believes that oil futures prices are a reflection of
the true state of the physical market is living in a time warp."
-- David Hufton of oil brokers PVM


in the past, the past was called ...

whenever we talk about the past today, probably the most common term
people use is "classic."
so here's a question for you ... in the classic times, how did they
refer to the past?
i was listening to a 50's re-broadcast of a duke ellington concert where
he was going to play some of his older 30's music.
"and now, ladies and gentlemen, a selection from our vintage catalog."


quote of the moment

"the desire to achieve a healthy old age is laudable indeed, and will be
even more so in the future."
-- jane brody, the new york times
(who apparently DIDN'T USE AN EDITOR for this piece in their health