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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

It's Easy to Be the Single Greatest Golfer in World

April 15, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

I imagine if we met on the first tee, Tiger Woods would want to know what my handicap is. I would think it's the same as Phil Mickelson's.

We're both married.

I'm not complaining, of course, because I don't think I'd be satisfied simply kissing a trophy every Sunday, although I wouldn't be surprised if that's what I get tonight.

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THE THING IS, I'm hearing more and more talk about how Tiger is the greatest golfer to ever live. The other night on Bob Costas' HBO show, there was talk of placing Tiger in the top three on the all-time list of greatest athletes.

The guy is awesome, all right, but has he really been tested?

Right now he plays without a care in the world, and when he wins a tournament, he hugs his father and kisses his mother. Let's see him play the 18th hole with both his mother and his fiancee waiting for him, knowing that if he makes a putt to win, he's going to have decide whom he kisses first.

"When you are out there playing, you couldn't care less what else is going on," Tiger said on a CBS special about the PGA Tour on Saturday.

Let's see what frame of mind he's in, however, when he goes to his closet on the final day of the Masters only to discover his better half didn't pick up his red shirts at the cleaners. Let's see him take that extra week off to prepare for the Masters with an upstairs bathroom to paint.

A single guy doesn't think twice about leaving the trophies from his major wins on the coffee table. I know some people--very close to me-- who would consider that clutter. They might even make a federal case out of it.

I'll bet Tiger Woods has no idea what it's like to putt after having a discussion with his wife about the frustration she feels while trying to match everything in sight with her new purple-plaid comforter. By the way, don't use the matching towels--they are for the guests. I wonder if the guests realize those towels have been hanging there for years.

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JACK NICKLAUS WON 18 major tournaments while he was married. I believe this makes him the most balanced greatest competitor to have ever lived.

From what I understand, Tiger no longer has a steady girlfriend. I guess he can hit a bucket of balls any time he wants.

In my house, one bucket of balls equals one chick flick.

Now please, don't get me wrong. Wives are great. I highly recommend one, although there's no question they can be a distraction.

I mean, if my wife is telling me, "You're always playing golf when you could be spending time with me," and I'm hardly ever playing golf--you can imagine the problem Tiger's wife is going to have.

Despite all the limitations, I still think there is tremendous evidence out there indicating you can do all right if you have a wife. I'm sure she has her own opinions on the matter, but she doesn't have a column.

Now Mickelson is married and he makes a good living. Of course, he has also never won a major tournament and his second child is on the way, which means he has no chance of competing with a focused Tiger.

Instead of hitting golf balls, Mickelson should be setting Tiger up.

A few weeks ago Mickelson finished at Bay Hill and stood at the 18th hole with his daughter in his arms while waiting for Tiger. If Woods parred the hole, Mickelson would have had to take on Tiger in a playoff--his arms probably still shaking from standing there with such a load in his arms.

Another golfer might have made his way to the driving range to remain loose and ready for the greatest golfer in the world, but he obviously had baby-sitting commitments.

Tiger had no concerns, of course, and despite almost going out of bounds on his first shot, he pulled off a miracle, birdied the hole and sent the Mickelson family home in time to catch "The Wonderful World of Disney."

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IT'S OBVIOUS I would rather be married than be a great columnist.

But I tried to make the point to the grocery store bagger the other day that Tiger has done his best work as a single man and as long as he remains single there will be no end to his greatness. He didn't get it. He thought I was criticizing the way he filled the plastic bags.

I took another tack. I explained that I'm as big a fan of Tiger's as anyone, pointing out to the grocery store bagger more than once that this is a young man making millions playing golf and when he gets married he won't have to hit his father-in-law up for a loan.

The grocery store bagger was so impressed by my pep talk he wanted to buy golf clubs--if I didn't mind giving him an advance toward payday.

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I WENT TO San Diego on Saturday to catch the Dodgers' act, and while I know I've called Manager Jim Tracy a Knuckle Head, I believe he has elected to open each game with an out because it's Lent, and after Easter services, leadoff men Tom Goodwin and Marquis Grissom will get the OK to get on base.

As you know, Dodger Boy traded for both of these leadoff outs, and the pair will earn more than $8 million this year. So far they've combined to hit something like .160, and while I was going to suggest they never swing again and maybe draw a walk--through 11 games and into the sixth inning Saturday, neither one of the Dodger leadoff men has yet to accept a walk.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Daniel:

"I didn't read your column last week, but I disagreed with everything you said."

I hear the same thing from my family all the time. By the way, I have another daughter you might be interested in . . .

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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