A Tour win after battling ‘the yips’

No Mountain Too High




An amazing aspect of Tiger’s recent victory in Japan at the PGA Tour’s ZOZO Championship was that so much was made of the fact that it was his 82nd PGA Tour victory, which tied the 50-year-old win record held by golf legend, Slammin’ Sam Snead. Yes, it is quite an accomplishment and it is an impressive achievement that will most likely never be equaled again. Rory McIlroy even says that he will never reach the 82-win mark.

I swear the wheels on Tiger’s private jet barely had left the Shanghai tarmac before the 19th Hole discussions began. Social media and golf media arguments were flying around like witches’ brooms on Halloween. But why? I mean 82 wins is 82 wins, right?

Well, the main point of contention is related to the fact that the PGA Tour as we know it only came into existence in 1968 when the majority of professional tournament players decided they wanted their own “tournament” organization. So the PGA Tour was formed and it split away from the PGA of America (generally the club pros, teachers, etc.). Even to this day, many still think that the PGA and the PGA Tour are one and the same, but they aren’t. So, the absence of early records has cast a little shadow on Snead’s victory count. Who knows, maybe he won more than 82?

The record-keeping was just not as accurate in the early Snead days as it has been in the Tiger era.

During the rise and fall and rise again of Tiger Woods, what is amazing to me is that the “82” number was rarely discussed. On the other hand, Tiger readily admits that the number “18” has always been his driving force. The latter number is the gold standard in golf.

Yes, there are 18 holes in a round of golf, but the importance of “18” is that it represents the amount of major championships Jack Nicklaus has won, and therefore it is the record Tiger wants to break.

With his stunning win at last year’s Masters, Tiger now has 15 major trophies on his mantle. Unbelievably, in that amazing win total, there was a 10-year winless gap for medical and personal reasons. He won the 2008 U.S. Open Championship and then no more major wins until the 2019 Masters.

The Masters win broke the ice and now Tiger’s fans are playing that Tiger drum to a new beat. Tiger’s problems on and off the course had silenced even the most die-hard fans and all had to come to terms with the fact that the Nicklaus record was untouchable. Then, the 2019 Masters win happened, and the Tiger faithful say the game is back on to reach that magic number of 18.

But — and there’s always a “but” — Tiger will be 44 years old at the end of December and has had a combined total of more operations than I dare count. He needs three more major victories to tie the Nicklaus record and four to break it, and the clock is ticking. It seems like a big mountain to climb, but then again, we are talking about Tiger Woods.

Brendon Todd, a little-known name in professional golf, has just finished climbing to the top of his mountain. This Brendon Todd story is dedicated to anyone who is thinking of giving up because the mountain is just too high.

Todd is a member of the PGA Tour and was good enough to win the 2014 Byron Nelson Championship. Then, inexplicably, he lost his game. In the 2018-2019 season, he entered 41 PGA Tour events but missed the cut in 37 of them. He was struggling. Somehow this once talented golfer had managed to come down with the yips. If you’ve never had the yips, I can only hope you never get them. There’s no easy cure, just ask anyone who has had them. Playing golf with the yips would be like running in the New York Marathon carrying a bowling ball.

However, Brendon Todd was not a quitter. He worked hard and slowly began the healing process to control and eliminate the yips. Many golfers have walked away from the game, but Todd kept at it.

I always love a story with a happy ending and last Sunday at the inaugural Bermuda Championship, Todd reached the top of his mountain and took home the trophy. At one point he even had a realistic chance to shoot a 59 in the final round, but a 62 was good enough to do the job. Among the slew of perks that go to a PGA Tour winner, Todd now gets an almost three-year exemption on the Tour, gets to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui, a tournament only for winners, has money in the bank, and is once again brimming with confidence.

Winning on Tour is not easy but winning on Tour after a prolonged battle with the yips is simply amazing.

bobvoiceofgolf@gmail.com