Golf's Rory Mcllroy - Refreshing BUT he's no Tiger (or Jack)

Tiger Woods hasn’t done many things right since returning to the comfort of the greens following his scandal although he did make a wise decision by dropping out of golf’s 111th US Open. If he had played, he would have surely been in the pack that got demolished by Rory Mcllroy.

With Tiger being injured and his future uncertain, golf needed to get some sizzle back and it appears that Mcllroy will help in that regard. He annihilated the field at the US Open earlier this month, played at Congressional Country Club in Maryland, with a dominating performance of -16 under par.

His stellar performance came on the heels of one of golf’s biggest chokes – Rory’s Masters implosion in April. After three and a half rounds of great golf, who will ever forget that day at Augusta, beginning at the 10th hole, when Rory hit a horrible drive that essentially sealed his defeat? He had a triple bogey and his Masters opportunity evaporated.

What’s refreshing about Rory is that he gained strength from that crushing loss and came out cool as a cucumber (and remained that way) for 4 rounds at the US Open. I was impressed as I never thought he would come back so strong. From humiliation at the Masters to slaughtering the entire field at the US Open says much about his demeanor despite his tender age of 22.

Keep in mind that Tiger never had a collapse remotely close to Rory’s in his entire career. What he did do was run away from the field at the 1997 Masters when he was younger (age 21) than Rory is now.

Will Rory be the next Tiger? I don’t think so. It’s understandable that golf fans and the media want some new pizzaz as TV ratings and tournament attendance suffer tremendously when Tiger isn’t playing. The pressure on this kid to try and fill that gap isn’t something I would wish on anyone.

Tiger’s 14 Majors at age 35 sets the bar too high. Does he have a chance to win multiple majors? Certainly. His performance in the last four Majors speaks for itself and shows that he is ready for prime time. Rory finished T3 in the 2010 British Open and PGA Championship. The Masters was a disaster but he came back strong to win the US Open.

Is he capable of being the next golf superstar? Absolutely. Some of his peers rave about his game in ways that sound similar to the old Tiger.

Here’s what Graeme McDowell (last year’s US Open Champion) said about Rory:
(It’s important to note that Graeme is one of Rory’s best friend’s and he hails from the same country, Ireland)

He's the best player I've ever seen,” McDowell said.

“I didn't have a chance to play with Tiger when he was in his real pomp, and this guy is the best I've ever seen, simple as that.

“He's great for golf. He's a breath of fresh air for the game and perhaps we're ready for golf's next superstar.

“And maybe Rory is it.”

I never thought I would see another young person dominate a Major like Tiger did in 1997 although Rory has only won 1 Major Championship. In addition, he pails in comparison to Tiger’s results after his first 100 tournaments. The facts:

This was McIlroy’s 100th tournament as a professional on the US and European tours. He has three wins. After 100 tournaments, Woods had 28 wins and almost twice as many top-10n finishes.

Not everyone is as thrilled about the crown being thrust upon Rory. Several golfers wrote interesting comments to me, with most being irritated at the media for the Tiger comparison after one big win. One comment is below:

Comment from "country club" golfer:
I readily admit that my thoughts on Rory McIlroy's win are "uncharitable", but i cannot help but think of Gerry Cooney as I watch the adoration and hope that is happening now. Rory seems like a great kid and a good golfer, but all of this excitement and comparison to Tiger seems to be fueled by the desire of the media (and all of my golfing buddies at my club) to find the anti-Tiger. Maybe 10 or 12 years of sustained excellence might warrant comparisons, but right now Rory is on a list that includes Louie Ouisthaven, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Lucas Glover, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Stewart Cink, Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, Zach Johnson and Geoff Ogilvey.

Rory seems to be level-headed and appears to have a good team around him – two key elements for success in the precarious and tempting world of professional sports.

One thing is certain – Tiger’s quest to be the best isn’t any easier with Rory in the field. His presence should inspire Tiger to gain a better focus. If not, Tiger’s goal of winning 5 more majors may remain elusive.

Why Rory has a chance to be one of the greats in summed up by three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington. Despite Harrington being another Irishman, his comments are sensible and on point unlike the aforementioned Irishman:

“I think Rory has set himself apart now,” he said.

“There might be people capable of winning a major, but there's not too many people capable of dominating and running away from the field in a major.”

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. Rory must stay grounded, focused and not let these silly Tiger Comparisons get the best of him. He should also know that it would be almost miraculous to do what Tiger did since 1997.

Let’s not forget about the longevity and excellence of Jack Nicholas, who won the most Majors (18), the last one at age 46. That record appears to be a struggle even for Tiger to reach now although I think he will surpass Jack before his career is over.

A couple of final points to ponder:

A) David Duval was #1 in the world in 1999 before Tiger began his assault on the record books. He won the 2001 British Open and was never the same after that huge win. His career Major Championship total = 1.

B) Todd Hamilton won the 2004 British Open and is now ranked 199th in the world. He is an afterthought in golf. His career Major Championship total = 1.

I believe we will see much better results from Rory in the years to come but he’s no Tiger (or Jack).

We need to allow him to be Rory.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede at the golf range with friends in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Your Father - Embrace What You Have

There’s a moment of perfect bliss for everyone.

It could be a magical golf shot, a heartfelt moment with a best friend, precious time with a child, the euphoria from a great run, a moment of surprise, one’s wedding day, reading a touching book, winning an award or a kiss.

As a writer, I feel good about most articles I create yet there are always those that resonate incredibly with me while others impact the readers in ways I could have never imagined. The article I read this past week gave me that blissful feeling. I’ve never read a more profound article about a father.

The writer, Charles Blow (NY Times columnist) says this about his father:

He could relate to my brothers’ tactile approaches to the world but not to my cerebral one. He understood the very real sensation of touching things — the weight of a good wrench, the tension of a guitar string, the soft hairs on the nape of a harlot’s neck — more than the ephemeral magic of literature and learning.

So, not understanding me, he simply ignored me — not just emotionally, but physically as well. Never once did he hug me, never once a pat on the back or a hand on the shoulder or a tousling of the hair. I was forced to experience him as a distant form in a heavy fog, forced to nurse a longing that he was neither equipped nor inclined to satisfy.

My best memories of him were from his episodic attempts at engagement.

Even though his father had serious issues, "he wasn’t a mean man" writes the author. He goes on to say:

ALTHOUGH he had never told me that he loved me, I would cling to that day as the greatest evidence of that fact.

He had never intended me any wrong. He just didn’t know how to love me right. He wasn’t a mean man. I had never once seen him angry. He had never been physically abusive in any way. His crime and his cruelty was the withholding of affection — not out of malice but out of indifference.

One would have understood if he completely disengaged from his father as so many young and older people do who have the misfortune of a bad parent. Instead of becoming bitter growing up or distancing himself, the writer embraced the rare experiences he did have with his father.

Unlike the writer, my father was a good man although he wasn’t capable of giving me everything I desired (i.e. sports, modern wisdom for a teenager, etc) and that was okay. I got those things elsewhere. What he did give me was an abundance of love and support which I am grateful for. Even though we had our share of father/son struggles in my teenage years, our bond became much stronger as I grew into a wiser man.

Like the writer, I wholeheartedly embraced the times my father was capable of giving me. I was fortunate to have the best of both worlds as my first basketball coach (and mentor today) gave me high doses of the aforementioned elements that my father couldn’t provide.

Whether you father is seldom there, indifferent, good (but not great) or non-caring, you should gain strength and/or insight from the beautiful words in this article.

The writer eloquently describes the NEED we have for a father’s love:

It just goes to show that no matter how estranged the father, no matter how deep the damage, no matter how shattered the bond, there is still time, still space, still a need for even the smallest bit of evidence of a father’s love.

Charles Blow, this was your perfect story.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day (USA) and Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede enjoying the moment on the lovely coast of southern Sweden

A Magnificent Quote from the 30th President of the United States

Yes, the 30th President has a cool name (Calvin Coolidge) although he is also known for some profound and important quotes.

After reading the quote below, my hope is that you will begin to grab the life that you want or start living the dreams that have been deferred. At the very least, it should inspire you.  It continues to inspire me.

Maybe you already have persistence as a top characteristic although from my experience, far too many don't and live life for others thus neglecting their needs or don't feed their soul with their passions. A little persistence for what you want out of our short time on earth will go a long way in curing a misguided life.

Go after whatever you may desire with dogged persistence and determination. If there is a better way to live, I haven't seen it!

People often say to me, "I have no time to exercise or do the things I like" yet they find time to be on Facebook or watch TV - time that could be spent living your passion. I'm as busy as any person with a challenging job, spouse and two kids yet I find the time on a daily basis to do the things I'm passionate about - most importantly, my writing. Because of my determination in this area, I am a better father, son, husband and friend. I can't imagine a life without my "Me Time".

Remember, if you don't take care of yourself FIRST, how can you possibly be the most effective in looking after, uplifting or inspiring the loved ones in your life?

As President Coolidge said: "The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Happy Gswede Sunday!
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

~Calvin Coolidge in 1932

Swedish Strawberry - If there is a better Strawberry in the world, I would like to taste it!

Inspiration from NOT Being Called on Stage

The early days of January 2009 were wonderful yet challenging. We were the proud parents of a month old baby girl and my wife was in the beginning of her maternity leave. The tough moment for both of us was my upcoming work conference which typically takes place in mid January. I had to be away for four days, leaving my wife to handle the responsibility for a newborn and our then almost 2 year old son.

The conference took place in Lisbon, Portugal (I know, not a bad place to be) and I wasn’t in a particularly festive mood as I missed my sales target for 2008. I could have taken comfort in my efforts that year because I was on parental leave for the first three months of 2008 – our key selling season.

I didn’t. Nothing is comforting to me about not hitting target.

I did take comfort in stabilizing important “building blocks” for future growth in my territory, yet all that lingered in my mind was the missed target.

Throughout our meetings, I couldn’t help but notice that one particular salesperson knew the product extremely well and had insightful and frequent comments at each session. What was most impressive was that he was young and a NEW salesman at the company! I was inspired.

At the annual awards dinner on a lovely Lisbon evening, I wasn’t surprised when he won one of the top awards for 2008, achieving 22% over his goal. The applause as he accepted the prize on stage was both heartfelt and well deserved. Again, I was inspired.

His moment in the sun was profound for me as I don’t recall ever being so inspired by the success of someone I didn’t know. His joy along with his wide smile as he walked on stage was infectious! That positivity exploded inside of me and I began to set my sights on 2009.

Soon thereafter, I said to myself, “George, I am going to be on that stage next year”.

The hard work, displine and focus began to payoff dividends almost immediately and by the summer of 2009; I knew my year was going to be strong. There was dogged focus on key elements to make my sales target and I was laser-like in going after other elements of my goals.

In addition to my commitment to success, I was fortunate in that there were few customer aspects that didn’t go my way or end on a positive note. 2009 was a fantastic year for me! I was well north of 40% over goal.

What made my success in 2009 that much sweeter was achieving it in only 8 months of work as I was on parental leave from late August 2009 to early February 2010.

The 2010 January conference was in Monte, Carlo, France – a place of great beauty. Since I was on parental leave, I could only attend for the day of the gala awards dinner. I was in the country for less than 24 hours yet happy to be there because I wanted to be with my colleagues to celebrate our team success! It was a joyous occasion as every member made their sales target.

During the evening, I knew I had a chance to win a top award with my high percentage over goal. It was a great year for many teams throughout Europe/Midde East/Africa so I expected any award to be won by a close margin. To my surprise, I won “Rep of the Year” – the annual award given to the top salesperson and the biggest honor of the evening. The euphoria inside my body was surreal. It was a sparkling moment and one of the brightest in my business career.

After the awards ended and the dancing had begun, one of the first people to congratulate me was the aforementioned salesperson. We shared a nice moment.

Sometimes in life, one must go through a little pain to get to a bigger pleasure. 2008 was painful as I have rarely missed a sales target in my long and diverse sales career. 2009 was one of the top pleasures of my life – a year I gain strength from.

I don’t know if I would have reached the heights of success in 2009 if it weren’t for the inspiration in Portugal from the young salesperson and for “not being called on stage”.

Inspiration is a beautiful thing.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

My mom in southern Sweden on a recent visit - A lifetime of inspiration for Gswede!