Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Best Around

Originally posted to on January 30, 2007

I think that my good friend, Joe Esposito, said it best in the classic film The Karate Kid, “You’re the best around…nothing’s ever going to keep you down!”

He may not have been writing the song about them but the sentiments ring true when you watch Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. These two athletes are going to be the players that I tell my kids about. If they ever come up to me and ask me who was the most dominate player of their sport during my lifetime I will have to say Federer and Woods.

Federer is 25 years old and has captured 10 grand slam titles (3 at the Australian Open, 3 U.S. Open titles, and 4 wins at Wimbledon). Pete Sampras, the best player of my childhood, captured 14 grand slams – including seven at Wimbledon. Federer is, without a doubt in my mind, going to shatter this record. He hasn’t won at the French Open but there is no reason to believe that he won’t. He is so much better than everyone else that steps on the court with him that it is ridiculous. I mean, Federer didn’t lose a single set in the Aussie Open. Not a single one. Plus, he dominated the only match that people thought might be half way decent when he destroyed Andy Roddick (6-4, 6-0, 6-2).

Woods dominates his sport the same way. This past weekend, Tiger entered the final round of the Buick Invitational two shots off the lead. My buddy O.C. and I were flipping between college hoops and Tiger’s attempt to win his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when we saw the leader board. When they mentioned who the third round leader was, Australian Andrew Buckle, we actually laughed out loud. This kid didn’t stand a chance. And then when Tiger closed to within a stroke at the turn we were betting on how much Tiger would win by.

That’s what is different about these guys. When they walk out onto the court and course, people don’t say to themselves, “You know? They could win today.” People say things like, “You know? I don’t think anyone else stands a chance today.”

I’m actually going out there and calling this right now so that we can all look back and know that I am the prognosticator of prognosticators. Woods will win TWO majors this year (I’m picking The Masters and the U.S. Open). I don’t think Tiger will win the PGA Championship this year. And he won’t win the British Open – mainly because he won’t be playing in it (his wife is due to give birth to their first child that week and with Tiger having his priorities so ridiculously IN order I can’t pick him to win there).

I am actually going to pick Federer to do the unheard of and sweep the Grand Slam of tennis. He’s already virtually unbeatable at Wimbledon and I think that he breaks through in the French this year. He’ll win the U.S. Open but that could be a good test because there are a lot of good hard court players out there. The only trouble he will run into is if he plays Rafael Nadal in the French. Nadal is a great clay player and has beaten Federer there already. But he’s just too good.

I feel pretty good hitching my wagon to these guys. They ARE the best around.

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