Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Woods’

For those of you who believed in fairytales

I promised myself at the very beginning of this thing with Lance Armstrong that when Phil Liggett goes I go.

This is for a few reasons. First of all is the obvious one: Phil Liggett seems like just about the best bloke in history and should probably be listened to whenever he speaks he speaks about cycling, particularly when he speaks of the soul of the sport. Second of all the guy’s been watching Lance, and all the others, for years, and had a special kind of respect for him. He was reluctant to admit Lance did it, probably because he didn’t want to believe he had done it. I felt the same way.

The relationship between a commentator and an athlete is a funny one, and in the case of the Liggett-Armstrong relationship, a long one. There’s always an element of man-crush about it, but Liggett is a legend of the sport despite never having competed. He’s well thought of by those who listen.

He is referred to as ‘The voice of cycling.’ If this man is the voice, then surely he speaks from the heart of the sport. I wouldn’t say Phil speaks from the head. Phil is too pure to speak from the head. The head of the metaphorical cycling man is too corrupt.  The brains of the sport are in too deep to speak as Phil did.

So when Liggett said that he’s off the Lance-Wagon, I bailed too.

Let me reiterate, though, that I am reluctant to jump. Not because I don’t think he’s guilty. Not because what he did wasn’t wrong. The fact is it was so very wrong, and Lance knew it. I just wish he hadn’t.

In his speech after he won the 2005 Tour de France he criticised people who criticised him, saying they didn’t believe in miracles and were poorer for it.

The fact is that Lance Armstrong would have been the best thing to ever happen to cycling if he was clean. The fact that he cheated doesn’t vindicate anyone, particularly journalists with 20-20 hindsight. In some ways it only makes us poorer for having no one to believe in.

He was the man who won seven tours in a row, clean. He beat the cheats in their own backyard. He rose to the top and stayed there for longer than anyone else in the history of the sport. He dominated what I consider to be the hardest sporting event on the planet. He was the greatest this gruelling sport had ever seen, and there was daylight to second place. It was a real life miracle.

Or a fairytale.

It turns out that it was too much to ask for someone to beat the cheats without cheating himself. In no way am I justifying what he did by saying that he was only doing what everyone else did. I am simply saying that he was the man who we all thought could. I think sadness is just as appropriate a response as outrage.

The USADA report paints Lance as a bully; a ruthless individualist who will do anything to attain personal profit and glory. He manipulated and bullied the media into not reporting or retracting stories accusing him of doping. He bullied those who spoke out against him, and bullied his teammates into cooperating with the team doping policy.

He was the leader of the most sophisticated doping scheme in cycling history. He’s to blame for it all.

I didn’t know any of this was true before the USADA report. Then again, I didn’t realise Tiger Woods was a rampant sex maniac before his fall from grace in 2009. I think that, like Tiger, this image will be adjusted over time.

Like the reports of Tiger’s infidelity, I think the depiction of Lance as a bully who only wants what is good for himself will slowly recede in severity as his account is released and time runs its anger-cooling course.

People will begin to remember his charity work, which undoubtedly is a great thing that he has done for humanity, not just cycling, and many would argue is his greatest achievement (it certainly is now). Whether it was founded and nurtured under false pretences, and whether the means justify the end is certainly another point to debate, and may lead to another media storm. Another storm that will eventually rain itself out.

It may even come to pass, like it did with the Tiger, that people will actually start wishing him well again, and applaud him for his success in other ventures.

People will start to forgive him eventually.

The obvious question that really burns in all this is why has Lance refused to say anything? He could be writing his admission book, which will no doubt sell a load of copies and add fuel to the accusations of him being a money-hungry narcissist. He may be preparing some sort of statement that will not implicate him in anything legal, but admits his guilt. Who knows?

There have been some journalists (journalists I wasn’t even aware were cycling journalists, until now conveniently) who have said that his time has passed. It is too late to respond now, they say.

Why is that? Where is the arbitrary line that you drew that denotes the precise point when it was too late for an accused man to stand up and respond to these very serious allegations about the very fabric of his being; his life’s work? Or is it just because he didn’t fit in with your paper’s news values that his time has passed?

Take all the time you need Lance, but please direct your words toward the Phil Liggetts more than anyone else; those to whom you promised a miracle, and delivered this.

I’m a bitter golfer

My friend shot a hole in one not too long ago. I wasn’t there. If I had happened to be there I might have strangled him with jealousy.

As self-fancying a golfer as the next, I was shattered when my ‘friend’ posted a picture of himself on the guilty green on my social media instrument of choice. There he was, squatting self-satisfiedly next to the flag, ball nestled comfortably between stick and cup, concrete(ish) evidence that he had guided the little white cherry from club to crevice in one blow. He looked rather pleased with himself, smirking at me through the lense of the camera.

I looked at the photo again. My ‘pal’s’duplicitous, piercing blue eyes are staring holes through my skin and bones and body gunk right to my very soul, where little hands with tinier fingers on the end of his x-ray vision begin tugging it, cajoling it to break into several pieces.

“You won’t be needing this,” say my unnamed ‘friend’s’ vision hands as they pinch and prod my soul into thousands of tiny pieces.


He was club in hand in the photo. Guilty green. Guilty club. The offenders were stacking up, like that RICO case in The Dark Knight.

“Guess what happened?” said the post on my communication device. In case you wanted to know I have many friends on this device, many who I’m sure hate it when I post that I’ve completed another pointless, dull, hopelessly written, horribly misguided blog post.

“I don’t need to guess,” thought I as I stared at the devil-child-man, who will be referred to as Diablo for the rest of the post, who had managed to crush my most recent dream in that one click of his macbook pro trackpad. I couldn’t help but think, too, that the computer that posted that photograph was better than mine, and if it wasn’t better then it was at least smaller; such is the woe. Why, through all this, did Diablo also have to have a better/smaller computer than me?

Diablo had to know when he clicked ‘post’ just how large a chunk of me would die inside when I saw this photo. Just how sadistic is this prick? How sadistic is the demon lord? How long’s a piece of string?


He knew that golf is our new thing. Sure, he beat me the last time we played by quite a margin, but it’s not like I haven’t beaten him my fair share of times. But to make a hole in one? That’s a once in a lifetime thing. I’m convinced, after seeing this photo, that I will never make one. My ‘friend,’ Diablo, being the blessed one of the two of us, will be the one to make two in his life. All of us are given one, and he will steal mine from me. I’m sure of it.

He’s still on my timeline, taunting me. If you care to look at my online book of faces, you will see him still boring holes in my soul. He is like Sauron, except he has two eyes and a physical form and no ring (yet). So in that way he bears little resemblance to Sauron.

Such is the magnanimity of the situation, I have taken to spending my working days staring at the photo. Start at 9. End at 5. Half an hour for lunch, make the time back if you decide to take longer. It’s my work. My obsession. The bastard hit a hole in one. Maybe if I stare at it long enough the hole in one will be retracted by time itself as reward for my hard work. We all know it was supposed to be mine.

My own. My precious.

I will continue to spend my days trying to conjure voodoo magic and seriously injure/maim the person who made the shot, but I would like to leave one sentiment that’s not bitterness or hatred. While I’m really really jealous of my friend, it’s a pretty amazing thing to happen to a weekend hacker like us. People who don’t play or like golf will never understand.

Well done mate. I’m jealous and I hate you, but well done. Now I’m going to work on my doll…

The Open is upon us, and I’m in Britain

Tomorrow shall be the advent of the advent of my first Open Championship (that’s what they call the British Open [the golf one] over here). Fittingly the weather has really turned it on for the players. The bunkers are full of water, something which, as a man who frequents Gordon golf club, I can sympathise with. The only difference between myself and the pros this weekend will be that they will get paid, where I play two bucks a hole to play. The rough has been so solidly watered by the continuous precipitation that the Tiger himself, the man who can tame any course, has labelled the Lytham long stuff “unplayable.”

So it might be, and I am looking forward to watching each and every drive, in particular the ones that skew off into the thicket like grass that have been left to flourish in the drizzle for the last month. I will watch these in anticipation, just to see the look on face of the first golfer to crack. Just give up. Walk off the course. Do a John Daly, pick up his clubs and never come back (don’t bother searching for the ball, you can’t play it out of flowering blackberry bushes) because he just can’t handle trying to hack his ball out of that infernal, juicy, rain soaked birds nest the Lytham people call rough one more time. When the golfer breaks. If it happens, I will write a blog describing, in super slow motion, (if that is possible in writing) the moment where the man breaks and succumbs to the weather, wind, course and that little white ball that really shouldn’t be so hard to hit straight. It will be so beautiful to see, and will make me feel so much better about my own game.

That will be joyous, but until that time comes I will just have to satisfy myself by talking about who I think is going to tackle the conditions best. They think it’s going to be tough, and I predict, really un-profoundly, that the man who hits the most fairways from the tee is going to do best in these conditions. That man is going to give himself the best chance to hit some greens in regulation, and therefore have a chance on those lumpy, humpy greens.

I’ve been watching a bit of golf in the past year, and this course looks to suit those who don’t miss fairways. It is also littered with bunkers, 206 of them in total, making good bunker play an essential quality in tackling this course.

I’m offering the Big Easy, Ernie Els, as one who I think will be there or there abouts when it comes to Sunday. Some of his clutch bunker play on the USPGA so far this year has been exceptional (like his work in the Zurich Classic in New Orleans earlier this year), and he might be called upon to make a few of those shots around the deep pot bunkers that litter this course. Otherwise, his swing looks as attractive as ever, and he is hitting the ball cleanly and straight. If he can land his approaches near the pin and get that belly putter knocking in birds I fancy him as a potential winner.

The man who beat Els at the Zurich was Jason Dufner, and he has been in my eyes one of the most consistent performers on tour this year. He and Hunter Mahan will lead the American charge, and if Jim Furyk can replicate some of the form he showed at the US Open then he will be around there as well. I like Jim’s game on this course because I think he can hit a good majority of the fairways which will be so crucial on a course that will heavily punish those who miss from the tea. I don’t think the Tiger will be up there this time, but I hope to goodness he is. Doesn’t he make golf exciting? The big muscly man, I believe, will make the cut but will have to manufacture too many shots from the rough to give himself a good enough chance at the title. I really do hope that he is up there though.

As for the Aussie contingent, I’m really unsure. I think Adam Scott is our best chance, and if he can tame the broomstick he may give himself a chance, but I don’t really see him winning here.

My smokie is my boy, ma boy, Tim Clark. This is a guy who battles around the course playing irons and hybrids, never driving a par four green, hardly ever hitting a par five in two. I love watching him play because he really breaks the mould of a professional golfer. He will lay up at every opportunity, and I hope he can show some of his genius short game. He will have to if he wants to win.

And who could forget the unluckiest golfer in the world, Lee Westwood. I thought Lee had a really good shot at the US Open last month, but when he hit his ball into a tree and it didn’t come down, it really stopped any momentum he could have had. Playing your third from the tee instead of your second from 200 from the hole tends to have that effect. Anyway, let’s all say a prayer for Lee, because I’d love to see him win.

So ma boy’s on the course, as is the defending champ Darren Clarke, so I’ll see ya’ll on the other side.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair