Ewen Murray is back... with his take on the Tiger Woods affair and Ian Poulter's resurgence.
Last Updated: 24/02/10 9:22am
My sabbatical is over and I'm delighted to be back with you all again on skysports.com.
To be honest, I have missed your interaction, opinions and thoughts on the goings-on in the golfing world and much has happened in the past few months. The demise of the number one golfer in the world, the dramatic rise to stardom the English players and the USPGA Tour returning to Sky Sports screens.
Everyone has pretty much had their say on the shocking life away from the course of Tiger Woods, but no one has searched into the reasons why one so talented, so revered and so admired in all walks of life should fall so far from grace.
My own opinion is the fact he had no childhood. His father, who I suspect saw only his own way in life, had him on the television at two years of age holing three-foot putts, then again at four hitting 50-yard drives before announcing that, "Tiger would have a bigger impact on the world than Gandhi". Hardly the ideal beginning in a young child's life. From there, it was Tiger and dad. No normal upbringing such as playing with pals and doing the usual things a youngster does in the period from child to youth and eventually into adulthood.
This is not the only case of this happening. My mind went to tennis players, Jennifer Capriati and Tracy Austin. The former experienced the same early years as Woods and turned to drugs; the latter simply couldn't cope with the expectation and had a breakdown. The late Michael Jackson never knew childhood having hit the pop charts at five, then hit the road with his older brothers and sisters performing all over the Globe.
Whereas Tiger deviated into his sleazy world, Jackson bought Neverland in an effort to have a childhood. Both he and Woods were by then at a mature adult age. In short, both of them were crying out to experience what they had missed and what most of us had enjoyed as a normal upbringing. My belief is, therein lies the foundation of Tiger's extraordinary behaviour, but what course of action does he now take?
I'm sure, like many of you I had mixed feelings during his 14-minute speech in front of a selected audience at the Tour's headquarters last week. He began with"many of you know me. You are my friends and have cheered and supported me". Well of course, that was correct as he - or his advisors - had chosen the guest list. So, what was the point of this?
His first course of action should be to part with his advisors, for just when they needed to be strong, they have been weak. There were moments when you wanted to put your arm around Tiger. Here was for many, our golfing hero baring his soul to one television camera, family and a few 'friends', for that read, acquaintances. Tiger has I suspect, no real friends.
That was not allowed during his military-style upbringing. This should have taken place in front of the Media so the step he took in Ponte Vedra was a much more significant one. It should also have taken place on non-tournament days, not during one of the game's most charismatic events.
As the announcement took 14 minutes, I don't think his rehabilitation would have been ruined or disrupted. The Accenture Company has spent millions of dollars promoting Woods professionally across the world and in the last 11 years has provided wonderful support to the game. Another two 'advisor mistakes'.
Tiger now has to take control of his own life both on and off the course. He has to make his own major decisions and speak his own words. Tiger's transgressions and infidelities happened just after his father, Earl died. Maybe part of Tiger passed away with him for he was his world. In future, he has to behave like professional golfers are expected to. His spitting, club throwing and swearing has to be put to bed and be replaced by the charisma the young Tiger Woods displayed which simply captivated us all when he arrived on the scene in 1996.
His private life should remain exactly that and I'm sure he has many bridges to build. He should be left alone to be given the chance to do that. Many have said the game will suffer from his extended break from golf. That of course is nonsense. The game has survived for centuries without him and it will continue to do so. I think the main question here is, how long can Tiger survive without golf?
What about Ian Poulter? The world number five 18 months ago, Nick Faldo selected Ian ahead of a few others as one of his wild cards for the European Ryder Cup side to face the Americans at Valhalla. Myself and 95 per cent of our poll thought he had not done enough to deserve a place. I still think, at the time, we were correct to voice that opinion. But what a transformation!
I spoke to Ian on the phone just after his inclusion was confirmed and he was annoyed at my comments. We talked for a good 20 minutes. It was a private conversation and ended with: "Go to Louisville and prove us all wrong." He did exactly that and has used that platform as a springboard to the lofty position he enjoys in the game today.
The Accenture final was all that is good about golf. Both Ian and Paul Casey played the game in the spirit we expect golf to be played. The golf was of the highest order as was the gentlemanly behavior displayed by the Englishmen who brilliantly flew the St.George flag in the Arizona Desert. We now have three Englishmen in the world's top six.
Ian's performance will have done much to ignite the interest of all aspiring young golfers. Having sold Mars bars and tee pegs in a pro shop whilst boasting a five handicap, here he is today with only Woods, Stricker, Mickleson and Westwood ahead of him in the list of the sport's top stars.
Two years ago, Ian infamously crowed that in a few years time that "it will be Tiger and me at the top of the world rankings". He came in for much ridicule from all quarters. It's not looking quite so silly now. I rather hope it happens, although with the next World Golf Championship and the year's first major coming up in the next two months, Ian may have got it wrong. It might be 'Me and Tiger!' It couldn't happen to a more decent and honest lad.
The USPGA Tour is back on our screens and we can once again enjoy these Saturday and Sunday evenings from the United States; the kids safely tucked up in bed, a glass of wine in hand and many of our home players vying for the prestigious titles Stateside.
I think we all missed the action over the last three years and one we are all looking forward to is the Players' Championship from Sawgrass in May. Before that, we will have the CA Championship next week from the Doral resort and with the excellence of our boys in Tucson fresh in our minds, wouldn't it be wonderful to see more splendid performances over the course they call the Blue Monster?
PS: Thanks for your comments about the golf promo which was filmed in the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Colin Montgomerie was a star. He had just flown in from Japan but got into the spirit of things right away despite being jet-lagged. My violin play is coming along, so no more comments please about my 'fiddling' as I wander through the airports! Thank you.
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