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Hey, Earl, marriage won'tdamage Tiger's golf game

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By HUBERT MIZELL

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


Earl Woods, from a California crib, beautifully sculpted son Tiger into history's most dynamic golf talent. But, taking a swing at marriage counseling, Daddy shanked out of bounds.

"I don't see Tiger marrying before 30," predicted the elder Woods. "He still has a lot to accomplish in the game.

"Let's face it, a wife can sometimes be a deterrent to a good game of golf. The level he's at, finite little problems like that would destroy him."

Ugh, the Earl of Matrimony.

Pop him in the sexist nose, Barbara Nicklaus. Maria Floyd is my nominee to give Earl a hard kick in his shins. Vivienne Player might make a trip from South Africa to sock him in the gut. Too bad Valerie Hogan isn't able to whack Tiger's pop with one of Ben's old 2-irons.

What if, were the 25-year-old phenom to wed, Tiger became even better as a golfer? What if he had a couple of cubs, grandcubs for Earl and Tita, adding spice and depth to the young gent's incredible life, resulting in the Grand Slammer being even happier and more focused?

Let go, Earl.

Golf history says marriage is often an asset. Strong, positive, supportive spouses have been vital, from an early age, in the solid careers of Davis Love, Tom Lehman, Jim Colbert, Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Paul Azinger, Payne Stewart, Vijay Singh, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller and so many other accomplished golf pros.

Tiger should, and will, make his own decisions, personal and professional. Butch Harmon is there to keep the Woods golf swing in powerful tune. Mark McCormack's minions adroitly manage and market an ever-escalating Tiger financial department. Mom and Dad can still help, but Earl, with his portfolio, should avoid dabbling in "I do" talk.

HOOKS: It stinks that Trent Dilfer, the QB who got fired after winning a Super Bowl, was not among Baltimore Ravens taking bows at the White House. ... At this stage, my journalist eyes seldom weep at observing athletic conquests, but tears were abundant as Ray Bourque, after two NHL decades, finally put a hug on his Stanley Cup fantasy. ... Bob Stoops, after two seasons as Oklahoma Sooners coach, with a 2000 national championship, could become college football's highest earner at $2.4-million. He learned well from old boss Steve Spurrier at Florida, incumbent NCAA dollar king at $2-mil per season.

HERE'S WHATEVER: Last week's missing person subject, Frenchy Fuqua, an old Pittsburgh Steelers running back whose flashy '70s dress once included glass high-heeled shoes with goldfish swimming inside, has been found wearing work boots in Michigan.

Detroit News copy editor Joe Adams says Frenchy operates in the newspaper's Oak Park district circulation facility. Few jocks got rich 30 years ago, so here's one more for Fuqua, a 50ish fellow working hard to make an honest living.

READER'S SHOUT: After John McKay's death, Clay Sessions of Palm Harbor offered a eulogy. "I have followed the Bucs for 26 years, since 1975 when Tampa Bay's franchise was being formed; enduring lots of pain along with too few joyous experiences prior to their rise to true NFL prominence in recent seasons," said the retired accountant.

"So long ago, I liked the hiring of McKay but I also agree with your assessment, Hubert, that he never quit being a college coach at heart.

"We now know for sure that (owner) Hugh Culverhouse shortchanged John, his staff and players as well as us fans, choosing to dedicate his miserable life to mounting a personal fortune. McKay did okay, but the deck was stacked against him, and against us.

"It concerned me when McKay's son, Rich, began to rise in the Bucs' front office. I automatically considered John's kid as more of the Culverhouse mafia. I was so wrong. Rich is solid, he's brilliant and has guts.

"John leaves a diverse NFL legacy, along with his collegiate heroics at Southern California, which is my alma mater. But he gave us Bucs fans nothing bigger than the young McKay who now orchestrates with (coach) Tony Dungy."

Wonderfully stated, Clay.

JABS: One of Yogi Berra's more enduring nutsy quotes is "It ain't over till it's over." So, the grand old Yankees catcher, with his 10 rings from World Series championship seasons, has requested, "On my tombstone, I'm asking them to put It's Over." ... What if Larry Rothschild had been fired in the off-season, instead of April? Remember how Lou Piniella, the Tampa guy, expressed interest in managing the Rays if his pal Larry happened to be jettisoned? Wow, how close did Lou come to missing the fabulous season his Seattle Mariners are achieving?

Whatever happened to George Rogers?

-- Contact Hubert Mizell at mmizell02@earthlink.net or P.O. Box 726, Nellysford, VA 22958.

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