Friday, May 13, 2011
The Problem With the WD
A few years back, when I was still a kid worrying about height and pimples and if my truck was going to spew out a dark smoke when I started it during the winter, I headed down to Alabama for an AJGA event at a Robert Trent Jones course. The tournament was a big deal, and thanks to a solid week in my first ever AJGA event, I was invited. So my dad and mom packed up the car and we drove to Mobile only to wait out rain delays after rain delays. Finally, the tournament started, and after a hopeful opening nine holes of 37, things fell apart and I finished with a 79. The second round wasn't much better, and there I stood at 159, looking up a leaderboard at names like Casey Wittenberg and Jonathan Moore.
The week had been long and muddy, and the delays had pushed it past the return date. After the second round, I discussed some stuff with my dad and decided to withdraw and head home, not to miss anymore days of them working and me schooling. I still don't like that fact that I did that. I hated having those two letters, WD, next to my name.
A few years later, at a Byron Nelson qualifier, I struggled over the opening 18 holes. The afternoon 18 had droves of players pulling out that didn't feel they had a chance, but I wouldn't do it. I learned my lesson. I was done looking at any combination of "WD."
The problem with golf is a bad start normally dooms you. A wise man once said, "you can never win a tournament on the first day, but you can sure lose one," and that's about as true a thing as any golfer has ever said. It's easy to give up hope, but it also raises questions.
On Thursday, when Tiger left TPC Sawgrass after just nine holes, you knew it was because of his knee, but it's easy to speculate otherwise. He was 6-over. Other players were going dirty low. He had basically shot himself out of the tournament in just nine holes, and when you play that poorly, your injuries sure do hurt a little more.
I'm not questioning Tiger's resolve. Of any athlete I can ever remember, Tiger has gutted out more tough starts, or cut lines, than anyone I can ever remember. He has withdrew just four times in his career, something impressive when you look at guys like John Daly, who sometimes withdraw because their steak was served just a little too rare. I was always in awe at how Tiger could go out and play with grit and determination when he had no chance at winning. For some, a top-20 is a big deal, but for Tiger, it's a week that leaves him shaking his head.
I just know that when you withdraw, questions fly around, even if that isn't fair. That's why I hate seeing it, and that's why I feel bad for Woods. He's hurting, and we could see it, but that doesn't stop the rumor mill from churning.