SI Vault
July 06, 1998
Golf What's Up with Tiger?
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July 06, 1998


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World Cup: Three-Goal Wins*

10 of 68 matches, 14.7%

NB:.20-Point Wins†

50 of 360 games, 13.9%

NFL: 25-PointWins†

8 of 55 games, 14.5%

Baseball: Six-Run Wins†

20 of 134 games, 14.9%


What's Up with Tiger?

Since doing the unimaginable in April 1997—winning the Masters at age 21 by 12 strokes—Tiger Woods hasn't done a whole lot. He has won just three times in this country and once abroad. Sure, that's a career for most golfers, but Woods is not most golfers. Most recently, Woods finished in a disappointing tie for 18th in the U.S. Open last month and tied for ninth on Sunday in the Western Open. Taking four putts on a single green, as he did at Olympic in the Open, has golf's young god looking mortal and Tiger-watchers groping to explain the so-called slump. The leading theories suggest Woods has been struggling because of 1) indifferent-to-bad putting; 2) inability to control distances on his short irons; 3) distractions caused by death threats; and/or 4) dismay over loss of youth, privacy, friends, etc.

Because Woods doesn't let strangers inside his head, only his confidants can judge the validity of these theories. But any outsider can see there's confusion in the Woods camp about putting. Butch Harmon, Woods's swing coach, advises him on putting, too. But Harmon was never a great putter, and his stroke is old-fashioned. Earl Woods, the kid's old man, wants Tiger to putt like a Tiger again, on feel, but it's not that easy when the greens get fast and the expectations monstrous.

As for distance control, Woods does tend to hit his seven-iron anywhere from 140 yards to, well, a lot farther than that, which is a problem Woods is trying to work on. If anything, he's working too hard. As for the death threats, nobody outside the Woods camp knows how serious they are, and publicly Woods dismisses them. Still, how well would you play if you knew someone out there was sick enough even to make such a threat?

Of all the theories, No. 4 may best account for Woods's woes. Sure, Tiger can fly his buddies in to tournaments, drink beer and play computer games into the night, but it's not the same as before, and that truth must be a shock. Getting there is almost always more fun than being there. Tom Lehman says the biggest challenge facing Woods is to be a reasonably happy person. Those who were there will recall that Woods looked almost happy while shooting 40 on the front nine in the first round of the '97 Masters. He was an underdog then. He hasn't looked exactly that way since.
Michael Bamberger

Notre Dame Football
Will You Still Need Me...?

On Dec. 2, 1996, shortly after he was named head football coach at Notre Dame, Bob Davie fired the Fighting Irish's longtime offensive line coach, Joe Moore. Davie has cited all sorts of reasons for the sacking. Moore, Davie claimed in a deposition, mistreated players, smoked during practice and drove a dirty car. Oh, and he was a lousy coach. Moore, who had been a Notre Dame assistant since 1988 (and, along with running back coach Earle Mosley, 47, was one of only two assistants canned by Davie), says Davie is obscuring the real reason he was fired: Davie felt Moore, at 64, was too old. Now Moore has filed a new-fashioned federal age-discrimination suit against the school. Moore was earning $90,000 a year. Asserting that he could have coached for another 10 years, he is seeking $1 million in lost salary and benefits.

The trial, which is set to begin July 9 in Lafayette, Ind., is likely to be embarrassing for both sides. Moore will try to prove that Davie, his former friend, is a liar. Davie will try to prove that Moore, who helped recruit Davie to South Bend as defensive coordinator in 1994, was unfit to be an assistant. Starring for the plaintiff will be Mike Rosenthal, a senior offensive lineman this fall, who has testified on videotape that he heard Davie say Moore was too old for the job.

Meanwhile, the lawyers working for Davie and Notre Dame will trot out all available dirt on Moore, a celebrated line coach who has sent dozens of players to the NFL. Unfortunately for the university, there may not be much dirt. Yes, Moore has an official reprimand in his personnel file for slapping a player in 1995. But that's pretty common in the coaching ranks, especially among the aggressive old guard.

A jury will examine the suit as a matter of law, but the larger truth is that it's about generational change. Davie, 43, is part of the new breed; Moore, who is decidedly old school, had hoped to coach at Notre Dame through 2006 and then retire. Instead, he's working as a consultant for the Baltimore Ravens. "In the beginning, I wanted to get even," Moore says. "Now all I want to do is get my point validated."

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