When Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods made his Professional debut on the PGA Tour, there was anticipation like no one before him. His “Hello World” comment has gone down in the archives as preceding the Greatest Golf Career the world has seen.
In his first tournament, Woods made a hole-in-one at the 1996 Milwaukee Open on the Par 3 14th with a six iron.
This is not a normal thing to happen in your first Professional Tournament.
Looking at those announcing themselves on the world stage today, it is safe to say that Players that do it with the biggest bang, are often the ones still capturing our attention.
Golf is a sport that provides opportunities to the lesser known players, as all compete on a level playing field.
As in life, your first impression is one that sticks. So let’s see who stuck…
Rors’ final round sixty-two at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, is a round of golf that is tattooed into my consciousness. It was an exhibition in flushed ball striking, that dropped jaws on every hole to make him the youngest PGA Tour Winner since Tiger Woods.
What was most remarkable about this tournament, was that the best shot he hit in the tournament ‘wasn’t the 5-iron up the steep hill on the 15th that settled 3 feet away for eagle. Nor was it the 7-iron out of the bunker on the 16th hole that was so good he didn’t even bother to watch it land 5 feet from the cup. The shot wasn’t even on Sunday.’
It was on Friday afternoon, whilst sitting two shots above the cut line, when he hit a four iron from two hundred and six yards, to a tucked pin, over water to make eagle.
He then shot sixty-six, sixty-two, to win by four over Phil.
Hello world indeed!
Nineteen year old Jordan Spieth turned Professional mid-way through his sophomore year at the University of Texas.
Six months after playing his first tournament on the PGA Tour, the young Texan notched his first win at the John Deere Classic after a three-man playoff. Spieth became the fourth youngest PGA Tour Winner, and went on to win rookie of the year.
I remember watching this, not taking a huge interest in the plethora of unfamiliar Americans populating the leaderboard, until Jordan holed his bunker shot on eighteen to make the playoff.
He definitely hit it too hard, with the water beckoning, but the pin got in the way.
Typically I am not one to consider fate or divine intervention in these cases, however there must have been a force at work here. Jordan spoke about ‘willing your ball’ to do things, and ‘believing that something will happen, because that increases the chances of it happening’.
Zach Johnson makes bogey on eighteen, David Hearn misses a simple putt in the playoff, Jordan wins the tournament.
When he holed another one this year at The Traveler’s – much better celebration this time around – we weren’t surprised at all.
That was how he announced himself.
Now, with the ‘Go Get That!’ at Birkdale, the benchmark he created for himself, is now what we come to expect.
Whilst this is more of a forecast, than the above two, I really got the feels watching Li buck his head in Dubai last week.
In his final round, he had the expected nervy wobble on the 10th. Going from bunker to bunker, chunking his greenside approach and then missing the putt.
However when you have four time Major-winner Rory McIlroy in your group, and completely out gun him on the back nine to win by one, that is a way to announce yourself.
Li made four birdies in his last six holes, including as clutch a putt as you can get on the final hole, to secure a significant European Tour scalp.
The Chinese has Tiger’s Agent managing him, is beginning to look and sound the part – New Era cap with Mercedes logo a nice get up – to go along with his stella golf.
The metaphor of Li bellowing a ‘Come on!!’ with Rory in the background, will be used many times in the coming years.
Look out world, China is coming.
Golf is a sport that enables players to grab the initiative by the scruff of the neck. If someone is fearless enough to believe it to happen, then it simply does.
Rory at Quail, Jordan at Deere Run and Li in Dubai all encompass this.
Not once did they doubt they were not going to win.
That is the difference between the ‘Greats’ and the ‘Goods’.
The next time someone storms to victory, and genuinely wows you. Make a note, it is usually a preview of what is to come.