By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. It’s a brand new year and in this column, we take a look at two golfers. One, a former number one player in the world looking to make a comeback and another looking to comeback while still being the number one player.
Tiger Woods plays Santa, round of golf with president-elect
Tiger Woods is slowly coming back into the public spotlight. He returned to golf as he played in an unofficial PGA Tour event in early December. On Dec. 30, he celebrated his 41st birthday, still hoping to break the record of 18 major golf tournament victories held by Jack Nicklaus. Woods has work to do. Only one player has won three majors after the age of 41. Woods has 14 tour victories and would need four more to break the record.
Not only is Woods fighting against history, he will be coming back against a much younger, talented field of golfers. Also, there is the back injury that has kept him out for over 460 days. Can Woods return to his past glory? He has the work habits, but will his body allow him to do what he did as a younger golfer? Once thought as a shoe-in to break the record, many golf analysts believe that his career is over. I would not count out Woods. He plans on returning to golf in the spring of 2017. Could he be back at this year’s Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.?
For the holidays, Woods posted a picture on social media of himself dressed in a Santa hat, with an Oakland Raiders black hat, sunglasses, and no shirt. He called himself “Mac Daddy Santa,” and that it was an “Xmas tradition that my kids love.” It is a curious picture to post for followers, but if the kids find it amusing…
In addition, Woods was seen playing a round of golf with President-elect Donald Trump in Florida the Friday before Christmas. The two played with Donald Trump, Jr. at a Trump golf course in West Palm Beach. No word on whether Woods allowed the next president to win or if they even kept score. To show that he has no political allegiances, it should be noted that Woods has played with President Barack Obama.
No. 1 women’s golfer makes changes after slump
From a former champion, to a current champ — Ladies Professional Golf Association’s number one player in the world, Lydia Ko, is experiencing a slump.
Ko, a New Zealand-born South Korean, is just 19 years old and the youngest golfer to ever achieve a number one professional golf ranking at the age of 17.
She won the silver medal at the Rio Summer Olympics and won four LPGA Tour events in 2016.
Despite her success, Ko decided to change her caddie of two years in October and coaches this past December. Ko’s caddie, Jason Hamilton, stated that Ko “wanted a different set of eyes out there.” The caddie walks the course with the golfer and assists with use of golf clubs and helps with reading greens when putting, among other duties. Ko declined to directly talk about the change.
The coaches inferred that Ko’s parents influenced her decision.
Ko said that while she consulted her parents, she made the final decision. Her father has helped her on the course and perhaps serving as a coach.
Since winning the silver medal in August, Ko has experienced some trouble on the golf course.
She hasn’t posted a top 10 finish in the last five tournaments and finished out of the top 40 three times. In the last two major events, she placed 40th and 43rd. The finishes are unbecoming of the world’s number one player. Golf Digest believes she put everything into winning gold at the Summer Olympics and she has not been the same after. Inbee Park of South Korea earned the gold medal in Rio — beating Ko by five strokes.
For Ko, being young and successful at such an early age has its advantages and its drawbacks. Ko has expressed being close to her parents, which is a very good thing. There is the concern that family influences are overbearing on a young athlete and they don’t listen to their coaches. But coaches, and in this case caddy, want the athlete to succeed because it means that they will be successful as well. And therein lies the great problem with a young, successful, and rich athlete.
There is the pressure to succeed from both family and coaches. Ko experienced a slump after the Olympics and believed that the problem was her coaches and caddy. Then again, it could have just been a slump that she needed to work through.
We shall see how she progresses in 2017.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.