Tom Patri: Even the very best get nervous around Tiger

First, let me remind you folks I’m doing a signing for my book, “The Six Spoke Approach to Golf,” at Borders in Naples on Feb. 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Hope to meet you all there.

Does this Tiger guy amaze you as much as he amazes me? I watched Nicklaus as a kid, and was always astonished how he, simply said, always seemed to get it down. However, that being said, Tiger seems to take this thing to a very, very different level of drama. He hits shots and holes putts at key moments, and intimidates his opponents much like Jack did, and maybe even to a greater degree.

Two weeks ago in San Diego, he was 57th, then 22nd, then third, then in a playoff, then he wins as Jose Maria Olazabal, a former Masters champion and a great putter of the ball, can’t touch the hole from three feet.

This week, he catches Ernie at the wire in Dubai. Then in a playoff on a reachable par-5 on a day where Ernie has not dropped a shot all day, the Big Easy snaps it off the tee, and then ponds it, as Tiger waltzes into the clubhouse with a ho-hum par.

P.S., word on the street is, the total purse at Dubai was $2.4 million (total purse), Tiger wins, and gets paid $3 million to show plus all expenses.

The PGA Tour has to answer a big question to its corporate sponsors: How do we keep our players here? If you were sponsoring the Phoenix event, what would your thoughts have been?

How about these two kids, John Holmes and Bubba Watson hitting the ball 350-plus like it is a stroll in the park? I never in my lifetime thought in my wildest dream we would see a Tiger, or two kids like these, and there are tons more coming! We are about to see shots hit this year that will peel your skin off. Buckle up folks, it is gonna get crazy. I think we could in the next 2-4 years see every major scoring record fall. The USGA will never stop it either. These guys are simply getting that good.

The tournaments continue to lengthen golf courses. I have never believed that was the “only” answer, or even the first move. Width of fairways, length of rough, particularly around the putting surfaces, and of course the firmness and speed of putting surfaces are in my mind a better way to go.

All that being said, those guys are that good and getting better and better. Enjoy the season; it’s going to be a blast!

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Tom Patri’s teaching academy has moved to Lely Resort, with an indoor studio now open at The Health Club of Naples on Immokalee Road. Patri is one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America. He can be reached at tpatri@mindspring.com. To set up a lesson, contact Brandi Hanson at 597-0787 or e-mail brandih@thehealthclubofnaples.com, or go to www.tompatri.com.

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