Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Atiba Prater. …
TIGER SLIDE CONTINUES: I know just how Tiger Woods feels. No one feels like doing anything when you can’t get your glutes to fire. Mine haven’t fired yet this morning and typing this column is pure torture.
You know Tiger is hurting if he isn’t playing Pebble Beach this week. That’s his backyard. That’s his track. But his career is on the outs these days. He may play one tournament (most likely Bay Hill) before the Masters, but that’s no guarantee.
It begs the question if Woods will ever win another tournament, much less a major. He needs four majors to tie Jack Nicklaus’ record, five to pass him.
His game is in shambles. In his last tournament, before he quit after 11 holes, he chipped like someone in the third flight at a Muny tournament. He used to kill everyone around the greens. Remember the miracle chip on the par-3 No. 16 at the Masters?
Woods now has the physique of a body-builder, not a golfer. You certainly have to be in shape, but many think Tiger is over-training in the gym – to the point where it is to his detriment.
When Woods was the best golfer on the planet, he would show up at a tournament and the rest of the golfers would run for the hills. They knew they had no chance to win if Tiger was on his game.
Now, the young guns on Tour don’t fear him. They know he’s not the Tiger of old, just an aging Tiger.
He possesses fierce determination; so don’t count him out just yet. But he has a long way to go to re-claim his game. And Father Time is gaining on him.
SPECIAL GOLFERS PASS: Over the past two weeks, the golf world lost two notable pro golfers. Billy Casper passed away at 83 and Charlie Sifford, who broke the color barrier in professional golf, passed at age 92 in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Sifford was the first black to play on the PGA Tour.
Casper won 51 PGA Tour titles, which is seventh on the all-time list. He played in the era of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
Not only was he a strong family man (married 63 years, with 11 children, 37 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren) Casper is credited by former Marine Lt. Clebe McClary as saving his life.
Casper was in Japan playing golf at the same time McClary was on his deathbed in a Japanese hospital. McClary lost his left arm and eye in a firefight in Vietnam.
There were an estimated 600 soldiers in the hospital, but when Casper visited, it was McClary that caught his eye. Casper gave him encouragement to live, telling him God had a plan in his life. He endured 41 surgeries over the two years he was hospitalized, but he leaned on the strength Casper’s message gave him. For the past four decades, McClary was a powerful motivational speaker.
They didn’t see each other for 46 years, but were reunited last April at a Masters practice round. McClary was invited to Utah by Casper’s wife to attend his funeral service this weekend.
“I don’t think I would be here now if it wasn’t for him. … I want to be there for him. He was there for me when I needed him,’’ said McClary, who lives in Pawley’s Island, S.C.
SIFFORD A TRAILBLAZER: He died Feb. 3 near Cleveland. His services were Friday in Charlotte. Golf wasn’t integrated, especially in the South. So, many of them learned the game as caddies.
Sifford, recognized for his hats and an ever-present cigar in his mouth when he played, started professionally in the United Golf Association. He won six Negro National Open titles before the WWII veteran was allowed to compete on the PGA Tour. He was 38.
“Charlie and a lot of those guys came through at the wrong time. Things wasn’t opened up like they are now,’’ his longtime caddie and cousin, Caesar Wallace, told The Sporting News.
He was a big influence on Tiger Woods. Tiger tweeted last Wednesday. “Terrible loss for golf and me personally. My grandfather is gone and we all lost a brave, decent and honorable man. I’ll miss u Charlie.’’
Before the 2013 U.S. Open, Woods was asked about Sifford and the other African-American pioneers that opened the door for his career.
“I know my dad probably wouldn’t have picked up the game if it wasn’t for what Charlie did. … I’ve always called him my grandpa, the grandpa I never really had,’’ Woods said.
“We owe a lot to him and all the pioneers that have paved the way for us to be here.’’
FISHER BALL: St. Louis columnist Bernie Miklasz did some digging on former Titans Coach Jeff Fisher’s offensive rankings. Dating back to Jerry Rhome in 1995-96 in Houston, Les Steckel in 1997-99, Mike Heimerdinger in 2000-04, Norm Chow in 2005-07, ‘Dinger II from 2008-10 and Brian Schottenheimer in 2012-14, the results are dismal when it comes to scoring points, which I believe is a most important statistic.
The Titans 2003 team was No. 5 in points scored. Steckel’s 1999 team (Super Bowl) was seventh and Rhome’s 1996 team was No. 10.
That makes three top 10 teams in 19 seasons. They reached or topped the league average in points scored in only three of the last nine seasons. His teams have not fielded an offense that met the league average or better than 12th in points since 2003.
Now Fisher has promoted Frank Cignetti to offensive coordinator for the Rams after Schottenheimer left.
While here, Fisher had several nicknames, none of them flattering. Coach 8-8, Coach Field Goal, Coach Three-and-Out.
Maybe the Rams can add some more.
TRICKLE DOWN CHEATING: Now a parent whose son played for Evergreen Park Little League had accused that league of doing the same thing the Jackie Robinson West league did.
That parent’s mother said her family lived on Chicago’s South Side in 2011, outside of the Evergreen Park’s district. Someone in that league filled out the paperwork and put down another address.
The Jackie Robinson West won the Little League World Series U.S. Championship but had it stripped because of using players that didn’t live in that district.
We’re talking about parents of children ages 10-13, knowingly cheating to win games. Of course if you attend many games of kids in that age group, it is the parents that want to verbally (and sometimes physically) abuse the umpires.
Look at the cheating in Major League baseball and the NFL. It’s no wonder adults will do anything to win at the Little League level.
OOPS, BIG OOPS: Featured on the Philadelphia Eagles annual calendar for the month of February is wide receiver Riley Cooper. The same Riley Cooper that was under fire for using the N-word on several occasions. So how on earth did Riley match up with February, which is Black History Month?
The Eagles quickly washed their hands of it. It’s all done outside. We don’t pick the players and the months. They ran away from it like their hair was on fire.
TITANS DRAFT: GM Ruston Webster is on the clock with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NFL draft. If he doesn’t want QB Marcus Mariota, or perhaps Jameis Winston, then he better find a team that does and drop down in the draft in exchange for multiple picks.
They won’t get the sweetheart deal the Rams got in 2012 because Mariota or Winston is rated as high as Andrew Luck (No. 1) and Robert Griffin III were in 2012.
The Rams dropped down to No. 6 in the 2012 draft and also obtained Washington’s first round picks in the 2013 and 2014 picks. They also got the ‘Skins second round pick in the same years.
With two more months before the draft, now some draftniks are saying Tampa Bay is leaning toward Winston at No. 1.
Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.