By Robert Bicknell

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January 7, 2007

Quit Smoking and Golf don't mix...

I was worried that I might not have anything to write about following the holidays, but fortunately, my own New Year’s resolutions provided the inspiration for this week’s column…

If you’re trying to quit smoking, don’t even THINK about playing golf…

On Wednesday, I went out to Chi Linh Star for the weekly game and, despite being armed with nicotine patches and a truckload of chewing gum, it proved to be a bad idea.

In fact, I cannot remember the last time I shot 92.

Chi Linh Star is a troublesome course for me because the design doesn’t really fit my game, so right off the bat I’m in trouble. Add aerated (cored) greens to the mix and season with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and you have a perfect recipe for sheer misery.

Yes. I am still smoke-free after a week, but I will admit that it is a battle. Every so often the little drooling, slobbering, nicotine gremlin will pop up and demand attention. Fortunately, I have a good imagination, so I picture myself bashing the gremlin in the head with a sand wedge and the urge passes.

Still, its gonna be a long slog.

Many pundits are commenting about Tiger Wood’s impending fatherhood and how it will affect his game. Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and the like are praying for Tiger’s wife to have twins.

A few writers claim that, due to Tiger’s immense wealth, the arrival of a new baby won’t affect him much at all and the baby will have an army of nannies, cooks and bodyguards, probably all outfitted with scotch guarded Nike uniforms in case of "accidents."

Its an even-money bet that Nike will supply the Tiger Cub with free Pampers, bearing the Nike logo, of course. The USGA will have to watch carefully and keep this in their records as a possible breach of Amateur Status should the child ever compete in amateur golf later in life.

Personally, I think the baby WILL have an effect on Tiger based on previous experience.

First, he won’t want to work much because its too much fun to be around the baby. Secondly, when the baby gets a little older, poppa Tiger will be running all over the place trying to catch him / her/ it. Thirdly, the constant "up, down, up, down, up, down" request of the child will result in unexpected upper body development in Tiger and he will pull hook every shot until he adjusts

There is no doubt that a baby at home results in more distractions, more demands on time, but the biggest one is worry. When my daughter was born, I began worrying about everything and this doesn’t ease up over time either. So I imagine Tiger will be out there on the course and, from time to time, an errant thought will pop into his head making him think about a power outlet that wasn’t closed off or a stereo wire hanging loose.

Should a child cry from a neighbouring area be heard on the golf course, you can bet Tiger’s ears will prick up. Nothing you can do about it either.

The impending birth won’t be easy to deal with either, especially as it is expected to be during the summer, when most of the majors are played. Will Tiger bail out on the British or US Opens?

Phil Mickelson played in the US Open at Pinehurst in 1999 wearing a beeper because his wife was due to deliver at any moment and he swore to fly home the moment it went off, even if he was leading the tournament. Which is the right thing to do when you think about it.

Golf tournaments come and go, but family is family.

Phil lost the tournament, despite playing very well, to an amazing performance by the late Payne Stewart, who put things back into perspective afterwards by reminding him, "You’re gonna be a father!"

So, I believe Tiger will be affected to some degree or another, but instead of hoping for Tiger to lose his concentration due to the rigors of fatherhood, Retief, Sergio, Ernie and Phil should concentrate on their own games.

Or pray for a well-timed baby’s cry…

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