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Tiger answers critics with one timeless chip

April 12, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

Who says he's washed up at age 29?

It was only fitting he won the Masters on Sunday.

If he didn't, his improbable chip-in from the 16th fringe would have dominated the highlight reel more than anything.

Whether you like him or not, Tiger Woods is back, and where else but the Masters can you get such drama in golf?

Sure, he's won gazillions of dollars playing golf and made a bazillion through endorsements.

Woods broke a four-year hiatus from winning majors with his birdie putt on the first playoff hole that rewarded him with his fourth Masters title, equaling that of the legendary Arnold Palmer.

It was television golf at its best for the second straight year from Augusta, going back to 2004 when Phil Mickelson used the 18th green as the stage for his first major victory.

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Year after year, we see the highlights, such as Larry Mize chipping in to beat Greg Norman in 1987, Jack Nicklaus and his eagle putt to win his sixth Masters in 1986 and others that have made the Masters so glorious.

Woods' shot - which ended when his ball finally dropped into the cup after a final, breathtaking hope for a last rotation as it hung on the lip - will go down in golf history as one of the greatest. Not just the Masters - all of golf.

The shot seemed to make the last two holes anticlimactic and Woods may have been caught in the moment with two bogeys that helped realize a playoff, bringing about his winning putt that had some similarities to Mickelson's last year.

Chris DiMarco gained credibility simply for not backing down to Tiger when he was in the process of losing his lead.

Maybe the pros needed some drama to make up for all the rain-delayed problems they've had to cope with.

Sunday truly was a masterful day.

Part of the game


Last week, I covered the Williamsport-Smithsburg baseball game and Aerik Taylor pitched a wonderful two-hitter in Williamsport's victory.

He was overpowering with his deliveries and did not allow a hit until the fifth, and final, inning in a 10-run-rule game.

Part of my game report included Taylor sending two pitches to the backstop and then hitting Smithsburg pitcher Zach Lloyd with a pitch. At the time, as was reported, he was the only baserunner for Smithsburg.

That is something worthy of reporting.

What's done is done. The game went into the books and nothing was made about that pitch.

But when the game report was published, some 12 hours after the game ended, suddenly Taylor's inside pitch was the subject of much controversy.

Many officials have contacted Williamsport coach Rod Steiner to weigh in on the incident which didn't cause the least bit of a stir when it happened.

Steiner has been inundated with inquiries about Taylor's plunking of Lloyd. I'm sure he's been queried to the point of 'was it intentional?'

It started because of comments by Taylor, who tried to send a message to Lloyd for allegedly stealing the catcher's signs.

The game of baseball has an unwritten code when it comes to stealing signs. Even in this time with all the recent steroid accusations, the game of baseball itself is considered a "game of honor," from the nearest sandlot and on every level across the nation.

Hey folks, when it comes down to it, it was all part of the game. There was no intention to hurt anyone, just an intention to let everyone know that there is a right way and a wrong way to play the game. It's a message which would be applauded by die-hard baseball types.

Many coaches can be the best teachers and a positive influence on kids. Steiner is one of those coaches who demands sportsmanship, but sometimes when kids get between the lines ... well, you never know what might happen.

Steiner didn't instruct Taylor to throw at Lloyd. I would suggest Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes didn't think so either, or he would have probably protested. Taylor has the reputation of being a clean player, who plays hard and by the rules. He honors the game's code of ethics.

If I were another opposing coach who might still have to face Taylor this season, I wouldn't be worrying whether he's going to throw at one of my batters.

Let it slide, let the kids play and let Steiner continue to run his successful baseball program, which I am sure doesn't include unsportmanlike situations.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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