Tiger Woods and the 5 Biggest Head Cases in Golf
Golf is known as a gentleman’s game, but like any other sport, it has its fair share of knuckleheads.
Whether they’ve violated the rules of golf etiquette or the basic laws of human decency, all of the men on this list have had some major issues over the years, both on and off the course. They are all talented players, but their antics continue to frustrate their colleagues and fans.
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Sergio Garcia's career path has baffled golf analysts for years. He’s been “the next big thing” longer than any of us care to remember, but his many flashes of brilliance have been systematically dampened by just as many incomprehensible shortcomings. One would think that after riding this emotional roller coaster for so long, Garcia would have figured out how to handle the swings with class and grace.
Not so much.
On one unfortunate Sunday at Doral back in 2007, Garcia missed a par putt. Apparently, this underachievement caused him such inconsolable grief that he could no longer contain his bodily fluids. Garcia’s only recourse was to “let it go” into the 13th hole.
In Garcia’s mind, it was no big deal. He didn't see how it might impact any of the other players on the course.
Why would anyone mind retrieving a golf ball from a hole brimming with chewed sunflower seeds and backwashed Gatorade?
There's no question that Garcia has talent. He's been a regular in the "best player never to win a Major" conversation for years. If he ever wants to get off that dubious list, Garcia will have to get his head straightened out and focus on putting the ball in the cup.
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Ben Crane plays very slowly.
Ben Crane plays so slowly that back in 2005, Rory Sabbatini decided he simply couldn't stand to wait any longer. After Crane hit his approach shot to the 17th green at the Booz Allen Classic, Sabbatini chipped, putted and walked onto the 18th tee before Crane even marked his ball.
Now, I certainly don’t endorse such a brazen affront to golf etiquette, but I can't throw all of the blame for this incident on Sabbatini.
Crane seems to have come to grips with his issues, but that doesn’t change the fact that he still plays with the urgency of a tortoise on his way to a prostate exam.
There's no logical reason for Crane to drag his rounds out like this. It'd be one thing if his meticulous approach resulted in a few wins, but Crane has only topped the field at a PGA event once since 2005.
Crane has taken advantage of social media to make himself into a popular player on tour, but if he ever wants to treat his fanbase to a Major victory, he'll need to pick up the pace.
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Over the years, John Daly’s public image has travelled a remarkable journey. He began his career as a rule-breaking menace: drinking, gambling and ripping through packs of Marlboro Reds at a pace that would make Angel Cabrera blush. His lack of decorum ruffled the feathers of traditional golf fans, but his booming drives awed the general populace like no golfer had before.
After his victories in the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open, Daly had established himself as golf's bad-boy superstar. But his struggles with alcoholism and drug use continued to drag him down. Though Daly was winning, it wasn’t uncommon for him to be disqualified from a tournament due to his unruly behavior, nor was it a rare occurrence for him to quit if things weren’t going his way.
When the police were called to eject him from a Winston-Salem Hooters in October 2008, he had descended to nothing more than a disreputable slob.
Recently, Daly’s public image has come to rest in a much happier place. He’s cleaned up his act and rededicated himself to golf. To young golf fans, Daly is a lovable goofball with the silliest pants on tour.
Ultimately, Daly’s winding legacy may live on through the beverage named in his honor. While Daly himself no longer drinks alcohol, there remains a certain honor in having a drink named after oneself.
Here’s to you, Big John. (I’ll make yours an Arnold Palmer.)
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Steve Williams was just minding his own business. He stood by in anonymity for years as Tiger Woods’ loyal friend and caddy. He supported Woods through the good and the bad.
He supported Woods—until he was unceremoniously fired last month.
Suddenly thrust onto the front page, Williams took the opportunity to let the world know how he felt about Woods’ decision: "You could say I've wasted the last two years of my life.”
Williams was hurt, but he landed on his feet. In the wake of his firing, he quickly latched on with fellow Aussie Adam Scott. The pairing was an immediate success, with Scott tasting victory at Firestone, while Woods posted one of the worst finishes of his professional career.
After the tournament, Williams decided to share his opinions with the world again: "Honestly that's the best week of my life; I've caddied for 33 years, 145 wins now, and that's the best win I've ever had."
The best win I’ve ever had? Really?
I’m sure Steve Williams is an excellent caddy, but a caddy can only do so much. It seems that working with Mr. Woods has bloated Williams' ego a bit.
I know he wanted to rub a victory in the face of his former employer, but come on, Stevie, let’s give credit where it’s due. In this case, let’s recognize the man who actually hit a few golf shots, not the guy who carried his luggage.
A good caddy helps a golfer reach the spotlight; he doesn't try to steal it from him.
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Since the events of Thanksgiving 2009, Tiger Woods’ star has fallen like no athlete in American history. Almost instantaneously, Woods tumbled from an unimpeachable icon to a tattered shell of his former self. His family life was in shambles and his dirty laundry (and dirty text messages) was hung out for the whole world to see.
I’m not here to impose any kind of moral code on anyone, but Woods’ actions off the course revealed a hedonistic selfishness that made golf fans question why we could have supported him in the first place. We wondered if the fist-pumping virtuoso that we’d cheered through 14 major victories was ever really the man that we thought he was.
The last two years of Woods’ golf career have only served to further confuse our perceptions of his legacy.
Are his struggles the result of a body that simply can’t withstand the torque of his golf swing? Or has his quest to rebuild his family relationships somehow robbed him of the competitive fire that fueled his rise to the top? He continues to maintain that nothing is wrong, that he'll bounce back once he's healthy, but his results have done little inspire confidence in those remarks.
Who knows what's going on in Woods' head right now. The only incontrovertible fact that I know about Tiger Woods is that he may never be “Tiger Woods” again.
Honorable Mention: Rickie Fowler
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Rickie Fowler seems out of place on this list. He’s one of the rising stars on tour and by all accounts a very nice person. He’s even paired up with a few other young golfers to produce this gem, all in the name of charity.
That’s all well and good, but Fowler’s inclusion on this list has nothing to do with his personality. It’s his migraine-inducing personal style that’s landed him here.
Fowler attended Oklahoma State University, and it seems he’s quite proud of it.
I don’t take any issue with his school spirit, I just wish he’d choose to express it in some other fashion. Perhaps by wearing a cowboy hat, or an orange lapel pin. Either of those avenues would be much easier on my eyes.
Instead, Fowler chooses to show his OSU pride by suiting up in “Okie State Orange” on Sunday afternoons. I’ll admit, it takes a courageous man to pull off an outfit like that, but when the color of your pants conjures up images of a my highlighted chemistry textbook, something has gone very wrong.