Saturday, August 8, 2009

Don't be a Tin Cup

If you haven't seen the movie Tin Cup yet (and if you like golf movies you should see it), then be aware I'll be discussing the climactic scene forthwith so let this function as the official --SPOILER ALERT--

Ok, now that that's out of the way, I want to talk about Tin Cup which was on the Golf Channel the other night ("movies that make the cut") so I had to watch. If you recall (assuming you've seen it), the movie features Kevin Costner nicknamed "Tin Cup" as the washed up pro of a run down driving range, and Rene Russo as the love interest, not to mention Don Johnson as the PGA tour player and Cheech Marin as Costner's side kick and caddie.

Let me get to the point, "Tin Cup" blew it. Sure he got the girl in the end, sure maybe he'll go down in history as the only person to try to hit the same shot like 6 times and eventually hole out with a score of 12 on the last hole of the US Open. But let's face it, he had a chance to win and he let himself get in the way.

The climatic scene has Costner, who qualified (on a whim pretty much), at the US Open on the 18th hole tied for the lead with Peter Jacobson. He hits his drive in the fairway and has like 250+ to the hole for his second shot, with water in front of the green. He's been in the same situation for each of the 3 preceding days of the tournament, and each day he's hit it into the water from about that position.

So what does he do? He goes for it, he goes for the green. Now that I can live with actually. I mean its stupid, but I can live with it. Even "Molly" (Rene Russo) told him to go for it. He needs birdie to win the US open, but he wants eagle or a chance at it. So he hits the shot, ball makes it to the green but then rolls back and falls into the water.

Ok, good try, he made a bad choice, but he can still win the US Open for gods sake. How? By just dropping a ball right near the green (since the ball landed on the green and rolled back, he'll be able to drop right near the water on the side closest to the green), and either chipping it in for the win, or chipping it and 1 putting to tie, which would force a playoff (18 hole playoff). Worst case he probably finishes second in the US Open.

But he doesn't take that option, instead he elects to hit the same shot over and over because he's convinced its a shot he can make. He finally hits the shot perfectly (I think on his 6th try) and it goes in the hole from 250 yards.

Look, sometimes you have to go for it, because that's just the way you do things. Phil Mickleson made similar mistakes in the 2006 Open where he blew a 1 shot lead by using driver off the tee (which was giving him trouble all week) and then trying to hit the miracle shot to the green around trees after his tee shot went way way left. He lost the US Open, but at least tied for second.

If your nature is to take a chance, well by all means, who am I to stop you. But if it doesn't work out, and you want to try try again, do it in the next tournament or in a practice round. The point is, we can all do amazing things, we just don't always do them when we want to or need to. Hitting it perfectly after 6 tries doesn't prove much. Practice so that you can hit it right that first time.