Monday, January 30, 2012

What's the easier way to lose, Tiger's way or Stanley's way?

   What's the toughet way to lose, slow bleeding like Tiger Woods and his scatter-shot driver Sunday in Abu Dhabi or Kyle Stanley's head-shaking collapse at Torrey Pines?

   There's no good answer.

   For Woods, getting beat by Robert Rock had to make the long flight back to the States even longer, no matter how cushy Air Tiger might be. Woods was right there, ready to win a full-field event for the first time in more than two years and suddenly he couldn't find a fairway with OnStar. He hit two fairways on Sunday and six greens -- an equation for frustration.

   If you're keeping track at home, that's three times in the last five that Woods hasn't won after holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

   What does that mean?

   It means he still has to prove he can win again. The Chevron World  Challenge is one thing. Beating Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and, yes, Robert Rock is something else. Overall, the takeaway should be positive for Tiger. He plays to win and he failed there but he showed a game that continues to look better. It let him down on Sunday but for three days, it had him where he needed to be.

   Now we wait until next week at Pebble Beach to see what's next.

   As for Stanley, his collapse was colossal. That's the cruel nature of golf -- one awful hole can ruin an otherwise great day or, in his case, a great week. It was one of those awkward moments where no one is quite sure what to say or how to react.

   Taking six from 77 yards away never entered anyone's mind. It might happen to regular golfers but it seemed inconceivable it could happen to a player as in control of his game as Stanley had been.

   Is it a career-killer?

   Probably not but it's going to stay with him every time he's in contention until he conquers the winning thing. Plenty of great players struggled to close the deal early in their careers. Tom Watson could give a lecture on the subject.

   Stanley, meanwhile, is just speechless.