It’s fairly evident what Woody Austin tried to do yesterday.
Since the game of golf is about as mental as a panicked Ed Grimley, Austin — who finished second in this past weekend’s PGA Championship to Tiger Woods — is just trying to break free from the shackles that nobody can beat Woods down the stretch, I must say. Just hear out Austin’s logic: “It just happens that he scored better. You can’t throw away that many opportunities when you are trying to win a big golf tournament. He took advantage; I didn’t. Does that mean he played better than me or he’s better than me? I don’t agree with that.”
Reminds me of Bart Simpson: “I could do that, I just don’t want to.”
We’ll give Austin this: compared to each golfer’s typical finish, Austin wiped the floor with Woods, because this is Woods’ 13th major championship and Austin’s first top ten finish in a major. So in his own mind, Austin played better than Woods. I can see his argument, it’s just ridiculously off-base. Because PGA tournaments, especially major championships, just don’t use handicap.
But you have to admire what Austin is trying to do. He knows he could have beaten Woods if one of his rounds had turned out a wee bit better. If we negate Austin’s and Woods’ Friday scores (where Woods had a 63 and Austin scored a 70), Austin actually beat Woods head-to-head. And Austin’s final round on Sunday — the day where champions are sculpted and broken — was two strokes better than Woods’. Some kind of statistical base does help shake off the psyche that the guy next to you will always win. Because golfers are like little kids; tell them something enough times and they start to believe it. “Tiger Woods never loses on Sunday.” “Sergio Garcia always finds a way to lose.” “John Daly wants to put a sawbuck on red 23.”
Austin is not in the same stratosphere as Woods, and I don’t think he’s looking to become his rival. As a 43-year-old professional with three career wins, Austin hasn’t even played in a Masters or British Open championship in 10 years. (He’s no slouch either — his second place finish yesterday vaulted him to 34th in the Official World Golf Ranking.) But Austin’s one-man mind game is a valuable lesson for the whoever competes against Woods in next year’s Masters. During any given round, Woods is beatable — even on Sundays. Don’t let anyone behind the “QUIET PLEASE” sign say otherwise.
Austin’s next challenge is competing in the Presidents Cup (his runner-up finish also sent him high enough in the rankings to qualify for the team) and will be golfing alongside Woods in an effort to bring the trophy — whatever it’s called — back to the United States. So, all that stuff Austin said about how Woods is beatable? I hope the international team wasn’t listening to that.Powered by Sidelines