Yes! Tiger Woods is hurting his playing partners. When I saw the pairings originally I immediately wondered what Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen did to tick off somebody at the USGA that bad. You have the 19th ranked player and 83rd ranked player paired with a guy on his way out of the top 200.
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Pairings can make a huge difference, even to the average golfer playing in a local event. When you get paired with better players and you are looking at good shots all day you tend to elevate your own game.
The reverse is also true. When you are paired with someone spraying it all over the course and chopping it around it has a negative impact. No matter how good your concentration is, you can’t block it out completely.
When the U. S. Open was held at Atlanta Athletic Club I was living in Atlanta and a qualifier was going to be held at East Lake Golf Club which was one of my favorite courses. I was feeling pretty good about my chances since I had just missed it the previous year on a course I didn’t particularly care for.
Back in those days we didn’t have the USGA GHIN System online so a local PGA Professional had to sign the application saying your handicap was a certain number in order to qualify. This meant a lot of people slipped through that shouldn’t have.
To make a long story short, the two guys I got paired with ended up no-carding and I missed my chance.
Not only did Tiger start hacking it early, but the group eventually got put on the clock for slow play waiting for Tiger to hack it around. The unfair part of that is they don’t put one player on the clock. It’s the entire group. This can have a devastating effect on your game because it screws with your rhythm.
“You’ve got no friends out here”. – Ben Hogan
I think that one reason it affected Ricky is he is such a nice guy he lets himself sympathize with Tiger. A
U. S. Open
course takes all your concentration and he needs to be mentally tough enough to block out everything around him. Hopefully “the process” will suddenly click for Tiger and he will improve today. No matter how tough Ricky can be being put on the clock will take its toll.
For the rest of us, the solution is difficult. Most people like to be nice on the course and good etiquette says you should help you playing companions look for their ball, etc. In competition you can’t be nice. I eventually learned that when I played with my members I would have to give them a choice on the first tee. If they wanted to have a nice social round that would be fine but I would probably shoot in the mid to upper 70’s. If they wanted to see me to break 70 then I couldn’t watch them swing, watch where their ball went, or tell jokes and give swing tips. I had to focus only on MY game – not mine and theirs. You can’t have it both ways.
Sam Snead refused to watch Ben Hogan swing when they were paired together because he said it upset his rhythm. The next time you play in a local event don’t be nice. Some people may be able to turn concentration on and off like a light switch – Lee Trevino could – but most of us need to be like most great players and be totally focused all the time.
Just remember the next time you tee it up in competition – do you want to have fun or do you want to win?