July 19 - Tiger and Baltusrol
Now that Tiger Woods has shown the world that he again is the ultimate golfer on
the planet, it is time to realize that no one will defeat him at the PGA
Championship at the famed Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey next
The club is just about 25 minutes from the Holland Tunnel and if you have the
time, find tickets to watch history. The last pro to win three majors in one
calendar year was Woods in 2000, when he brought home the trophies from the
U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship. That year he joined the
legendary Ben Hogan in 1953 as the only golfers in history to win three majors in
one year. So when Tiger wins the PGA next month he will add another first to his
resume - that being the first player to win three legs of the Grand Slam in one calendar year twice.
When Woods completes the deal he will also be half way home to winning the so-called “Tiger Slam”,
which he did back in 2001 by winning the Masters. The “Tiger Slam” you may recall encompassed the
final three majors of 2000 and the 2001 Masters.
You might be asking yourself why am I so confident in picking Tiger Woods to win the PGA? Recently I
spent two days at Baltusrol Golf Club working on “The 18 Holes of the PGA Championship” for WLNY-TV
55. I turned the video we shot into a hole-by-hole preview that began airing Monday night July 18 with
Hole #1. In each piece, I take the viewer to the tee boxes, fairways, rough and greens and water hazards
that will challenge Tiger. And in each story the Head Pro of Baltusrol, Doug Steffen, will play the key shot
that the pros will face on each hole. Doug is a terrific golfer who understands how to play his home
track. Watching him place golf balls on each hole where they need to be in order to make birdies or
pars, plus talking to him about the course over two days, proved to me the only golfer in the world with a
chance to win is Tiger Woods.
Woods re-established himself as the dominant player of his time. His work with swing coach Hank
Haney, who actually gave me a lesson four years ago and turned a golfer who was shanking the ball
into someone who fired a sizzling 77 that very same day at Mansion Ridge in Monroe, New York, is
actually paying off. It is hard to criticize someone for wanting to become a better player. Outside of Vijay
Singh, who owns a summer home on the practice ranges of each tour stop, Woods works just harder
than anyone. Remember the naysayers who questioned Tiger’s decision to get married? They are
quiet right now.
Also quiet is the talk of the Big Five. Tiger has thrashed Ernie Els, who seems to
have lost his game, Phil Mickelson, who could not get out of his own way at the
British Open, Retief Goosen, who did not have enough for a run at the British, and
Singh, who also seemed to run out of steam at St. Andrews.
Sure, Baltusrol favors the long hitters and the Big Five are all long hitters. But that
does not mean they have the mental game to compete with Tiger. When Woods
jumps out to an early lead during the first round of the PGA next month, look out,
because no one is going to catch him. Remember, he is 10 for 10 in winning a
major when entering the final day with the lead. Don’t expect him to have a hiccup
in the Garden State. Tiger knows history and he enjoys making history and I enjoy
watching history unfold. That is another reason why Tiger Woods will find a way to best the field again
and win his third major of the season at the PGA next month as history will repeat itself.