Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teeing Off: Is it better to be hunter or hunted on Sunday?

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing jay.busbee@yahoo.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today, in light of K.J. Choi's rundown of David Toms on Sunday, we consider whether 'tis better to hunt or be hunted.

Busbee: Sunday afternoon was a perfect test of one of the classic questions of golf: On the Sunday back nine, is it better to be the leader or the pursuer? As we saw, David Toms' hold on the lead grew shakier by the hole, finally coming apart on hole 16. K.J. Choi, on the other hand, was like one of the Walking Dead (minus the decay and insanity, of course), relentlessly marching forward to overtake Toms. But, just as often, it goes the other way, with the guy holding the lead able to steady himself and bring home the trophy. So, your take, sir: Would you rather be the hunter or the hunted?

Bacon: For me, I'd rather be coming after the guy that was holding the lead. For some reason, holding onto leads does funky stuff to golfers. You make weird decisions you wouldn't normally make, or you do the opposite of that, and start playing ridiculously safe to a fault, and let the other person come back and catch you. I think these days, you have more success if you're chasing the guy, because it seems hardly anyone can keep a lead in these big events anymore.

Busbee: It's a test of backbone, isn't it? Even the greatest hold-the-lead golfer of all time, Tiger Woods, finally surrendered to a pursuer when he lost the 2009 PGA Championship. The pressure's all on the guy with the lead; he can't afford to make a single mistake or there'll be someone right there waiting to charge through. You think losing that lead is what wormed its way into Toms' head and eventually led to that short, decisive miss on the playoff hole?

Bacon: For some reason, as Toms' putt slipped by you could almost feel that miss coming. They kept showing his hopeful 13-year-old son doing the golfer bounce when the birdie putt missed. Toms just looked nervous. He had been gutting it out all day. It just takes a special type of person to sleep on leads, and unfortunately for this generation, not a lot are like Tiger. We've seen the cool, calm and collected Dustin Johnson blow leads just the same as we've seen nervous-types like Nick Watney tank in the clutch.

Busbee: Yeah, that whole scene had so much impending doom surrounding it that you could hear the minor-key soundtrack starting to swell in the background. Still, it'll never hurt as much as this:

Sometimes this game is evil.

Bacon: Ouch! You're making me watch that the day before my Open qualifying?!?! You're a cruel, cruel man, Busbee.

Busbee: Sorry, should've put a NSFUSOQ tag on it.

And now your turn: hunter or hunted?

Teri Hatcher Lauren Bush Natalie Zea Brody Dalle Taryn Manning

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