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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Is it Finally Sergio's turn?, and the new and improved Tiger Woods

In a little over seven hours Sergio Garcia, the lovable youngster who is a chronic underachiever has the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only can he win his first major championship later today at Royal Liverpool, but he can do so in classic fashion by coming from behind to defeat the great Tiger Woods and thus exercising the demons of a whole generation of golfers who have faltered or flinched when the name Woods sits on top of a leaderboard going into the final round of a major championship.

Will Woods lose? He certainly looked very human on the putting surface today but personally this week I have probably been more impressed with Tiger Woods maturity and decision making than at any previous time in his career including his banner 2001 and 2001 seasons. Unlike his chief rivals Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh who have a bad habit of hitting loose drivers off the tee in search of distance, (and thus Singh and Mickelson have won the two majors where accuracy counts less and have not won the two opens where accuracy trumps length) Woods has a new strategy he is employing this week at the British Open. Keep the ball in play, even if that means taking an iron and leaving yourself with a long approach shot into the green. This is a style of play that shows great maturity on Woods part because through the years Tiger has depended on power and length, sometimes to the detriment of his masterful short game. Tiger's new approach probably has several roots, including his father's death, his failure at this year's US Open where his loose drives towards tight fairways resulted in a missed cut, and of course, his rival Phil Mickelson's idiotic decision to hit driver with a 2 shot lead on the 72nd hole of last month's US Open.

Tiger Woods has done this week only what a champion can. He has taken his biggest advantage in the mind of critics, his length and ceded it in order to craft a game that fits the course and championship he is playing to perfection. (Woods believe it or not is near the bottom in driving distance this week among the players on the leaderboard) Regardless of what happens later today, Tiger could be better than ever if he keeps his discipline and his new way of thinking.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.