Tiger attended a Grand Opening event at Bluejack National Golf Club this past week outside of Houston. You're roving golf reporter was also present along with five or six hundred others, mainly prospective members. It was a chance to be in the presence of greatness, past greatness but greatness nonetheless. Mark O'Meara and David Feherty were also present. O'Meara is the club Ambassador - one of the principals is an old friend and past instructor for the 2-time Major winner. Feherty was brought in to make it a fun event. O'Meara and Tiger don't do fun so a good move on the club's part.
And who would've thought it would make Sports Center? It never crossed my mind until a pal of mine texted me these 2 pics...
It was all-in-all an excellent event, having been to a few in my day. The event got going with Tiger & Mark O'Meara, or "Mo" to Tiger, hitting balls on the practice range, mic'd up, with each telling stories and Feherty inserting his color. Let me rephrase that - O'Meara and Feherty told stories, Tiger spoke very few syllables, and when he did it was simply to confirm something that was said, like a "yeah, that was in 1999," or a brief explanation of his current driver situation. It dawned on me later on that Bluejack couldn't just have Tiger, alone, getting through this himself. No, that would have been a snoozer. It's on the long side but here's a pretty good sample.
It's weird watching Tiger close up, thinking about what he was compared to what he is now. Watching him hit balls, sensing his discomfort with you knowing many a detail about his life while he knows nothing about you - it's an odd feeling. Despite his epically bad decision making, I feel for him.
From the video you can see that Tiger's swing looks "fine", but what the hell do we know? He was weak on his wedges and improved as he moved up in clubs. When he and O'Meara began going for the bull's eye, Tiger dialed it in. The range dips, the bull's eye sits about 20 feet off the ground, at or slightly above eye level from the range. To give yourself a good chance of hitting it you need to hit a low screamer right at it. This was fun to watch. Tiger missed by what seemed like inches on almost each attempt. He did get one hit just below the circle on the pole, dead center, just a little low. In his day, he'd hit it 3 out every 4? Certainly 1 out of every 2.
He then moved to his woods/driver - he absolutely pummeled a few, well over 300 yards even with his 3-wood. But he had his share of snipe hooks too. If any Joe Schmo had put on the demo Tiger did, you'd think, "That guy has some serious potential."
When the group headed out to play a few holes, I went to the bar. It was hot out and I was wearing dress shoes not conducive for walking great distances. So I caught up to them on their 3rd hole. There was a gallery of about 100 or so following. They were all still mic'd up. Now, the custom is for the "designer", Tiger in this case, to talk about the...design. On each tee he should give a little spiel about what he was thinking when he designed the hole, even though we know he wasn't thinking anything because he didn't really do the design but an underling on his design team did (Beau Welling). There was none of that. O'Meara's caddie even tried to tee Tiger up to talk about the par-3, 12th hole (O'Meara's caddie is one of the principals I spoke of earlier), and Tiger didn't bite. He simply responded, "great hole." period.
I stood right next to Tiger as he addressed his ball about 40 yards from a green with a good lie in the pine straw. He skulled it over the green. I was totally embarrassed for him. It was the shot a 15+ handicapper makes. On his course play, O'Meara was no less than up 3 holes and probably 4-5 strokes after the 5 holes. Tiger's got a long way go to go. I hope he gets there but I don't see it happening.