By Robert Bicknell

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September 9, 2007

Gannon / Swing For Life recap…

Well, that certainly was a hectic 10 days, but very enjoyable nonetheless. For me, the best thing about these yearly jaunts to the south is that its like a huge "family reunion" where I get to see many old friends. The smiles, jokes and good feelings help to recharge my batteries in a way that’s hard to explain.

I gotta send out a big thank you to Mr Long, Blaire Cornthwaite and the staff at Vietnam Golf & Country Club for making me feel completely at home during my visit.

Some big thank you’s also go to Jeff Puchalski and staff at Ocean Dunes / Novotel in Phan Thiet and Nguyen Thanh Hoang and his staff at Norfolk Hotel in HCM City.

They all helped to make this trip highly enjoyable and their efforts were very appreciated by yours truly.

The Gannon Vietnam Open Championship raised US$11,000 for Orbis International, which is a great charity. Le Van Kiem, owner of Long Thanh Golf Course helped the effort when he successfully bid $7,000 for an autographed Tiger Woods visor in the charity auction.

Swing For Life, as usual, was highly successful and raised over $70,000 which will help to construct and equip a medical facility for poor and needy patients.

As I mentioned to Duong Thanh at the awards party, when my time on this planet is over and G-d asks me "What good did you do?" I’ll say "Swing For Life helped thousands of people and I was a part of it."

That alone should balance the books quite a bit and keep me from requiring asbestos underwear.

There were a lot of humorous moments at the awards party, such as when Angelo Pillay informed me that, in Senegalese, "Yukka" means "Devil."

Heck, I could’ve told him that.

I was fortunate this year to avoid them at this year’s Gannon event, but found many other hazards to aggravate myself with. However, I did see many other players "dancing with yucca" as they tried to hit their shots without getting stuck by the thorns.

No trip to the south would be complete without letting some of my former students have an opportunity to lighten my wallet a bit and, being national champions and team members, they didn’t disappoint me. However, what I was surprised about was the creative ways in which they went about it.

They played well but if that wasn’t enough, Nguyen Van Thong suckered me into playing a wrong ball, which cost me a penalty and later, topped himself in the creativity department by calling into the clubhouse for a new Taylor Made R7 driver for me to try. It was a great club and decided to keep it.

A few holes later, He nailed me for having 15 clubs in my bag which is my own fault for insisting that he master the Rules of Golf when he worked for me…

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

Now onto other news, Phil Mickelson went head to head with Tiger Woods and, amazingly, Tiger blinked.

If Phil can use this victory to get over his fear of big cats on the prowl, he just might be able to live up to his own high expectations in the future.

Rory Sabbatini opened his mouth a while back and claimed that while he respected his talent and achievements, he "wasn’t afraid of Tiger." If you remember correctly, Tiger destroyed him and the rest of the field the next day.

But this time, Tiger blinked.

Ok, there might have been a few reasons for it, such as he was thinking about his new child (I do this a lot so I can understand it), he might’ve had the flu, he might’ve been in a generous mood, he might’ve been hung over…

Or it just might be that on that particular day, Phil Mickelson was better than Tiger Woods.

Either way, THAT is the thought that Phil must keep close to his heart. He beat him head to head once and that means he can do it again. He should gain confidence from this single win and use it for the future.

If he can do that, the golf world will be able to really enjoy some tremendous golf in the coming future along the same lines as the infamous Nicklaus / Watson duels.

We can only hope…

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