Watching Tiger Woods rip shots out of Bethpage Black's knee-deep fescue rough illustrated to me how much more dynamic his game has become, and these saves were a reminder of his physical advantage over other players. At the 1995 U.S. Open, at Shinnecock Hills, Woods was a frail, 145-pound teenager who walked off the course midway through the second round after badly twisting his left wrist while chopping a ball out of the fescue. Now Woods is a 185-pound specimen with "shoulders that are four-feet wide," as Johnny Miller said. That strength, coupled with unmatched skill, made Woods one of the handful of pros even to attempt full shots from Bethpage's cabbage, and the only guy to consistently pull them off.
After hooking his drive into the fescue at 16 on Sunday, Woods was 160 yards out with a nasty lie. He took dead aim at the flagstick with a nine-iron (left), landing his ball just short of the green in a bunker, a safe spot that took double bogey out of play. The shot wasn't flashy enough to make SportsCenter, but it was as impressive a swing as Woods made all week.
People who say Woods dominates because he doesn't have top-shelf competition are in denial. If you could transport him to the bygone eras of Jones-Hagen-Sarazen, Hogan-Snead-Nelson and Nicklaus-Palmer-Player-Watson, Woods would likely reduce those icons to also-ran status, just as he has the Duvals and Mickelsons and Garc�as of his day. Woods is that awesome.
FATHER KNOWS BEST
Johnny Miller has always taken heat for putting his family above his playing career, but I have long respected him for having his priorities straight. In 1991 I spent a day with Johnny and his four sons on the golf course, and I'll never forget how he doted on the boys, and the affection they returned. The wisdom behind Dad's devotion was confirmed for me on Sunday—Father's Day—when I heard the pride in Johnny's voice on NBC as he called his son Andy's ace at Bethpage's 3rd hole.