Monday, May 14, 2012

How slow can you go?






DMV slow.

And somehow I wound up pulling for him at The Players Championship.

That's not to say I wasn't happy to see smiling Matt Kuchar finally bag a big one. It was time for Kuchar to knock down a big title and his story -- wife, kids, parents all right there -- was perfectly sweet for Mother's Day.

And I really like the part where Kuchar said it took him all of five swipes for the swing change that altered his career to kick in. Five swings. Kevin Na has more waggles before a shot.

Sort of puts a dent in that "needing millions of reps" theory that's going around.

As for Na, watching him deal publicly with his demons -- every golfer has them -- was both awkward and humanizing. In a game that's strangling on slow play, among other things, Na officially became the face of slow play on the tour this weekend.

He was already the leader in the clubhouse on tour but at the TPC Stadium Course the viewing public got a full serving of Na's idiosyncrasies when he's over the ball. Watching Na fidget is like being unable to reach that spot on your back that really itches.

To his credit, Na has admitted his issues and talked about how he struggles with hitting a shot. If you play golf, you know the screaming that can go on inside your head before a swing. Na looks like he has a Metallica concert going on in his noggin.

Na said he's not intentionally slow and he spends part of each round apologizing for being so, uh, methodical. It's embarassing and to have his game break down Sunday when he pushed himself to play faster with the chance to win one of the biggest championships in the game was a reminder of what the game can do to even the best players.

Golf is best played in a rhythm, not fast but quicker rather than slower. Most slow golfers don't realize they're slow. But they're the ones who treat every shot like it's a tax audit. There's no reason a casual round of golf should take more than four hours to play. I repeat, no reason.

Na doesn't want sympathy. He wants to play at a reasonable pace and says he's trying. It didn't work Sunday when he was quicker than he was on Saturday.

What Na didn't deserve was getting heckled by the jerks who thought they were being funny by barking at him to hit it. I'm just guessing here but at least some of the hecklers are the same guys who yell "get in the hole" immediately after a shot is struck and wear those tacky trousers John Daly gets paid to wear. Have another beer.

The PGA Tour talks a good game about dealing with slow play but until it starts adding strokes to scores -- and doing it regularly -- it's not going to change.

Na says he's trying to change and he seems sincere. Good for him.

But don't expect it to happen in a hurry.


Anonymous said...

Give the guy a break! It's not like he was doing it to throw his opponents off. He obviously had some issues going on. There was no disrespect, he acknowledged it, etc. This should not be a story. These guys are playing for millions of dollars.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it, Na acts like each individual shot will make or break him, thus the paralysis. He ought to realize he's made it and with his talent he can hang around and have a wonderful career.

Otherwise he sets a good example of what not to do. And apologizing to playing partners out loud does not help at all. It just drags them in to the whole mess which is not where they want to be.

Anonymous said...

every athlete in the world gets hecklers, its a trade off for the vast sums of money you make...Heck go to any college baseball game in the SEC and opposing fans crush the NCAA players.