Tribute to THE KING

Outside of Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler is my favourite golfer.
I just think he’s one of the coolest players on tour.
Of course I’ve never met him, or Tiger for that matter,  but I just think he oozes cool and the thousands of kids that dress up like him week in week out are testament to that.

gwsl26-arnold-palmer-life-1960s-arnold-palmer-clothing

I wasn’t around to watch Arnold Palmer play, but with the stories I’ve read and watched about him, it seems like he was that cool guy back in the days.

Palmer, who died last September aged 87, is widely credited with transforming golf during his glittering playing career, broadening the sport’s appeal while building a worldwide legion of devoted fans known as “Arnie’s Army.”

The seven-time major-winner owned Bay Hill from 1974 until his death and his pull made the Arnold Palmer Invitational one of the most celebrated stops on Tour.

And this week players and fans will get a chance to honour The King.

E Diego2

Today Fowler will wear a commemorative pair of PUMA Golf IGNITE Hi-Tops featuring iconic images of the legendary Palmer.

PUMA_ArnoldPalmer2

The custom PUMA Golf Hi-Tops were designed and created by Dominic Chambrone, also known as The Shoe Surgeon, as commissioned by PUMA Golf.
Only two pairs of the shoes exist – one Rickie will wear, and the other, personally autographed by Rickie, will be auctioned off for charity. All proceeds from the auction will go to support Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation.

PUMA_ArnoldPalmerHiTops1

The pair featured in the auction will come in a custom wood engraved box with Arnie’s signature and dates of life.

ArnoldPalmer3

Hopefully these stylish Hi-Tops will raise a lot of money by Sunday.

 

 

 

Outliers

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly writes about the “10,000-Hour Rule”. Gladwell states that one of the key aspects to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. His point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest into greatness.

img_20170217_154353_075

I found myself thinking about this when I spotted a kid at the Zwartkops Raceway who couldn’t have been a little over a meter tall.
I was in awe as I observed him in  his little race suit with helmet in hand, while interacting with boys who looked a little older than him.
While waiting for their practice session around the track to begin, I noticed a gentleman manning the young man’s go-kart and automatically assumed it was his dad.

 “How old is your boy?” I asked.
With a great sense of pride beaming through his smile he told me that Thapelo was five years old.
Amazed by this revelation, I could hardly take my eyes off the kid as his dad helped him put his helmet on and jump into his kart.

 One could tell that he was a lot younger than his counterparts as his pedals had been modified to allow his tiny legs to reach them.

But it was not until I saw him zip around the kart track that I was completely blown away.
The boy is absolutely fearless, taking the corners like an experienced racing driver.
While chatting to his dad, he mentioned that he was worried he might have just introduced his son to the sport too early.
My immediate reaction was, “OH NO! I think you’ve done well by letting him start so early.”
In my head Thapelo was an outlier who’s clear talent just needs to be nurtured.

lewis-hamilton-kar_1054030c

He reminded me of Lewis Hamilton’s colorful life journey to becoming a Formula 1 champion.
His father bought him his first go-kart at the age of six, but it was only two years later in 1993 that he began karting.

dreamstime_m_46806635

Look, I’m not saying Thapelo will turnout like Lewis, a lot of factors will ultimately determine whether he does or not.
But getting such an early start certainly won’t hurt his chances.

As a sport loving father of a four-year-old daughter, I often find myself battling with the temptation of pushing my little one too hard, too early.
It’s no secret that I have a passion for golf and almost by default my daughter has also taken a liking to the sport.

ko

Lydia Ko is the youngest player, male or female, to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. She was just 17 years 9 months and 8 days old when she achieved this feat.
She was only five when she first picked up a club, just a year older than what my daughter is.
Now I’m not saying Oarabile is going to surpass Ko as the youngest women to win a major championship, or the youngest person ever to win an LPGA Tour event.

There is certainly no harm in doing the best I can as her dad to try and help her get there.

BUT… I’ll only do that if a few years down the line she still harbours the same ambitions.

 

I Live(d) in Hope

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

I too had a dream.
What was that dream you ask?
To see Tiger Woods win again.
But following his missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, that dream was subsequently deferred.

Tiger Woods at the Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab on January 31, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

 

After seeing this video on Tiger’s Twitter feed and hearing him talking about being in Dubai to win and not just to add numbers, for a moment, my blind loyalty got the better of me.

To be honest, heading into the Dubai Desert Classic my sincere wish was to see Tiger at least make the cut, that wasn’t too much to ask of a 14-time major winner right?

Heck, even Mathew Fitzpatrick was looking forward to playing with Tiger both Thursday and Friday.

capture

But it wasn’t to be…
After a disappointing 77 in the first round, Tiger withdrew from the tournament, sighting a lower back spasm that started late Thursday after dinner.

omega

As a hardened Tiger “Stan” I’ve had to finally come to terms with the fact that the guy who made me fall in love with golf will possibly never be the same again.

So as my hope of The GOAT being great again fades into the deep rough, it’s the wonderful memories of what he has done over the past two decades that I will have to be content with.

I Live in Hope

I swear I’m beginning to feel like someone who’s got a lot invested in the successful return of the greatest golfer of all time (yes this is my opinion of Tiger Woods).
But I honestly don’t.
Yet time and time again, when Tiger gets ready to tee it up in a tournament, I’m there rooting for him to win.
But perhaps I should lower my expectations a little bit.

tgr1
(PGA Tour)

Last week he signed for the fifth-worst performance of his 21-year career, following rounds of 76 and 72 and subsequently missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.
So what am I hoping for this time around?
I just hope he’ll make it to the weekend. Yeah, that’s right, I’ll be extremely happy if El Tigre makes the cut. Right now he needs to get a few competitive rounds under his belt, and then we can perhaps start seeing flashes of the Tiger we saw back in 2013.

tgr
(PGA Tour)

He might be standing in the shadows of the young brigade currently atop the world rankings. But even at his current 663rd position,  a fit and healthy Tiger is still good for the game of golf.  For example, when it was announced that he would be jamming in his first European Tour event in three years, ticket sales for the Dubai Desert Classic shot up by a whopping 50 per cent.

tgr3
(European Tour)

 

And it’s not only the spectators who are happy to see him playing again after a 17-month layoff. Earlier this month at the BMW SA Open, I asked world number two Rory McIlroy about his thoughts on Tiger’s return to the game.

ben-karpinski
(Ben Karpinski)

 

Tiger admitted to “being rusty” and “making dumb mistakes” at Torrey Pines.
So as he lines up against some European Tour heavyweights at the Emirates Golf Club this week, one hopes that he will not repeat those very same mistakes.

Because I’ve got a lot riding on him doing well. Okay maybe I don’t, but I’ve certainly invested a lot emotionally.