Johnny Miller – weaknesses of great golfers – Brief Article

The last piece of the puzzle

Lee Trevino has a theory that the Good Lord held something back from every great player. They all lacked one skill or emotional quality that could have made them unbeatable. According to Lee, providence deprived Jack Nicklaus of a good sand wedge. Ben Crenshaw had it all except a driver he could keep in the fairway. As for Johnny Miller, Lee said I had a balky putter. He couldn’t be more right.

Trevino’s theory still holds water today. The best players all have a single pronounced weakness. If you believe in divine intervention, you have to think certain gifts would make the following players dominant.

Greg Norman: The great shot under pressure. The big block to the right hurt Greg at the ’84 U.S. Open. It got him again at the ’86 and ’97 Masters. At Doral in 1995 he pull-hooked it into the water on the last hole. Poor Greg can’t stand over a big, important shot without worrying about hitting the ball off the planet. Heaven knows how great Greg would have become had he been able to hit a few crucial shots stiff early in his career.

Phil Mickelson: Steel shafts in his irons. Phil has been with the same manufacturer since he turned pro, and he’s had a lot of success, so he obviously knows what he’s doing. But I wonder about his using graphite shafts in his irons. I think if he switched permanently to steel-the type of shafts he used when he was in college-he probably would be more consistent. He experimented with lightweight steel early in the year. I hope he sticks with it.

Jim Furyk: Killer instinct. You can’t knock that quirky swing, because it repeats and I love how beautifully Jim makes the club behave through impact. What Furyk needs can’t be taught, only learned: a knack for winning when it’s close down the stretch. Jim has a few too many second- and third-place finishes; I’d like to see him be a little meaner when it’s crunch time.

Fred Couples: Strong focus. He’s a beautiful guy and super-talented, but he’s always been a bit of a walking dial tone, a boat with a small rudder. Fred is motivated in a vague way, but he’s never quite learned how to focus hard on specific goals. If the Good Lord had given Fred the eye of the tiger, the ability to identify and organize his objectives, his outstanding record would be off the charts.

Annika Sorenstam: 15 more yards. If she had more power, no other LPGA player would touch her. That’s how good the rest of her game is. Se Ri Pak and Laura Davies produce a piercing, hissing ball flight with lots of spin; Annika’s ball looks like a lazy rainbow. She’s big on conditioning these days and that might help, but who knows?

Laura Davies: Courage to let it rip. She is cursed with a desire for control, and thus hits way too many long irons off the tee. That makes her just another golfer. With her kind of distance, she should just pound that driver for all it’s worth. She’d be wild at times, but she’d also win more tournaments.

Colin Montgomerie: Better public relations. The bad vibes he feels when he’s in America are the main reason he has yet to winover here. If he learned to take those sarcastic comments from the gallery in stride, people would love him and he’d thrive on their positive energy the way Arnold Palmer did.

Tiger Woods: Precise short-iron play. When it comes to the 8-iron through sand wedge, Tiger is below average for a tour player. He has a great swing with the longer clubs, but unfortunately he has the same action with the shorter clubs. Unless he modifies his short-iron swing, he won’t reach his full potential.

COPYRIGHT 1999 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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