Frank Beard
Thursday January 20th, 2005

The year is over and all the suspense was lost long ago as Vijay Singh left nothing for anyone else to win. The only question now is whether Tiger Woods can regain his form of several years ago, and if he can't, why not? I'll try to stir up some interest for the latter.

One of the most significant beliefs that great players like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino adhered to was that the game of golf was greater than they were as individuals. They knew that the game was always perfect, but that they could never attain this state. These marvelous players appreciated that the essence of the game is wispy, almost spectral in nature and that it could never be conquered. They accepted that they could overcome their peers, but golf would always be one step ahead of them. They played with respect and reverence, and somehow always knew that the game that they loved would maintain the upper hand. They were confident, even arrogant, with other players, but appropriately humble in the daily battle with the wonderful old game.

Woods began his pro career with a fresh naive attitude, but maybe, just maybe, he thought he had conquered the game. It became his personal mission to do as he pleased. He could add golf to his other interests and pick and choose which one he wanted to have fun with on any given day. Golf is not an easy game and must be put on the top of his priority list. Just because he has the potential to be the best ever doesn't mean that he and golf are equals. Tiger may have to take another look at the game with a more humble attitude and give it the respect it demands.

How does the Skins Game keep making it onto major network television? Does anyone care anymore? It's become so relaxed and laissez-faire that there's no tension and, hence, no excitement. I, for one, would rather watch the PGA Tour School qualifying tournament, in which the outcome at least really matters to someone. --John Fetkovich, Kokomo, Ind.

I sure don't care about the Skins Game. Let the players put up their own money and it would take on a very different light. Playing for sponsors' dough is relaxed, playing for your own changes everything. Television is about entertainment, not skill.

I think the setup of the golf course at this year's Skins Game was unfair to Annika Sorenstam and made it virtually impossible for her to contend on almost every hole. The wide fairways and short rough meant the men could whale on their drivers without a care in the world. If they missed the fairway, so what? Why not have everyone hit from the front tees on a couple of them so Annika could hit an 8- or 9-iron instead of a 7-wood or 3-iron? --Adrian Ewins, Saskatoon, Canada

Honestly, how much satisfaction would Annika , or you, get if she won a skin from a hole -- or course -- that was specifically set up for her? She's not there for the money, but to prove she can play competitively with the men.

As the season winds down, the announcers are breathlessly discussing who is in danger of missing the 125-cut line on the money list. I may be perverse, but when I look at who is missing the cut, and the same names come up repeatedly. I am puzzled that these guys keep showing up when they are not drawing checks. This may play into your point about the lack of rigor on the Tour. But my real question is why is the "card" considered important when the Mark Brookes, Tommy Tolles and Steve Strickers of the world can play 20-25 tournaments a year? If you care to, please explain why tournaments keep inviting these guys. --Drew Wulf, Denver, Colo.

Brookes won a major and has a 10-year exemption. The others, and many more, have conditional exemptions -- all-time money list spots, past champions spots, and any other way the Tour can reward mediocrity. It's sickening!

Vijay Singh won the player of the year award, and rightfully so. Who do you think should be No. 2? --Scott Prato. Buffalo, N.Y

Mickelson is easily No. 2 player of the year.

Craig Stadler won the Champions Tour player of the year again. He's been quite a force on the tour. How would you sum up Stadler's career? Has he been underrated throughout the years? --Darren Graham, Key West, Fla.

I hate to say this, but I think too many fans relate Craig's appearance to his golf game. It's a shame because he is a terrific player.

Do you like the Ryder Cup changes announced last week (giving additional points for winning and quadrupling the points awarded during the year the matches are played). --Jake McKinnley, Decater, Ill.

The new changes are a start, but until the points are awarded on a more current basis, there will be problems. Any points for the previous year are meaningless.

Don't you think more attention should be given to Q-school? I think the pressure is riveting. Plus, you have to like the do-or-die nature of the event. --Jason Brevins, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Like I said above, television, media coverage and fan attention are only interested in celebrity and entertainment value. Real white knucklers by players who aren't big names in golf doesn't sell.

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