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Honors: Stuart Scott

Michael Jordan started it. I was a casual golfer who played about once a year until 1997, when Michael asked me to play in his celebrity tournament. What could I say?The guy and I go back. We're both North Carolina alums and we were friendly before I ever interviewed him for ESPN's SportsCenter. I mean, I knew Mike when he had hair. So in '97 I bought some old clubs for $50 and started practicing. I got decent. These days I'm an eighteen-handicapper. I might shoot 100 today, but I'll have my moments. At Shadow Creek in Las Vegas I almost aced Tom Fazio's signature hole, the seventeenth—left my mark a foot from the hole and cashed in the birdie.

"I like playing pro-ams. One time I hit a good shot and David Duval, who's funnier than people think, yells, "Boo-yah!' Duval can do my lines, from "Boo-yah' to "He must be buttah because he is on a roll.' I had another brush with greatness at last year's Tiger Jam, where I lived every golfer's dream—or nightmare. I'm setting up over a drive when I look back and see the host. Tiger. Watching me. He's waiting to hit next. Somehow I crush the ball 260 yards, a big drive for me, and look back at him like, Howzat, dog?And he laughs.

""Did you hear?' Tiger says. "They're building a new K-Mart.'"

"They are?"

""Yeah. Between your ball and the place where mine is going to land.'"

"Tiger and Michael are similar. They are both incredibly talented, but they'll outwork you, too, and they live to beat you. Not just to win—they want to subdue you, man against man. For them it's 'I will beat you, because I am better prepared and my will is stronger.' It's a man thing.

"I was with Tiger the day he shot his famous Hacky Sack ad for Nike. He was fooling around between takes and he said, 'Bet I can chip a ball off the metal railing over there and make it bounce into that trash can.' Which was impossible. So of course he did it. A little later he was shooting the commercial, bouncing the ball off his sand wedge, and he kept missing the baseball swing at the end. He'd flip the ball up, swing and miss. So the photographer needles him: 'Aren't you supposed to be the best golfer in the world?' Now Tiger gets that look in his eye: 'Give me the ball.' Bop bop bop for exactly thirty seconds and then wham, he hits it on a line about 150 yards.

"I can only dream of getting to that level. At thirty-seven I can still occasionally dunk a basketball, and I held my own as a wide receiver at the Jets' training camp, but golf is harder. It's less instinctive and you never get the tension release of running into somebody. Even with tips from Tiger ('Hit your chips like putts—don't break your wrists,' he told me), I haven't improved in two years. But I still love the game. I call it crack: Golf is crack for men, the only thing that a guy will get up gladly at six in the morning to do.

"You know how you get up at night to use the bathroom?I put that time to use. I've got a women's seven-iron in my bedroom, just short enough for me to take a full swing without cracking a hole in the ceiling. My wife, Kimberley, is used to hearing whooshes in the middle of the night.

"I play at Wampanoag Country Club, a Donald Ross course in West Hartford, Connecticut, down the road from the ESPN studios, and at a course in Avon called Blue Fox Run Golf Club. If you play there and you find a ball marked with the letters T and S, that's mine. Those are the initials of my daughters, Taelor and Sydni. I've hit plenty of balls in the rough—too many for Jordan. I keep asking him when we're going to play golf and he says, 'When you're a ten. Get your handicap down to ten and we'll play.'"

"When you're a ten, you're a player. So that's my goal. When I get down to a ten, I'll know I'm on a roll."  — Author

Scott's Shot
Analysis by Claude Harmon III

For a guy who doesn't play that much golf, Scott has pretty good action. His setup (1) is athletic with good ball position and a sound grip. Going back (2) the club gets a little inside of the plane, which could cause him to come over the top or to have trouble getting square at impact. At the top (3) he is a little beyond parallel, which can also cause control issues. His weight shift (4) coming down is strong and athletic, which leads to a good impact position (5) and follow-through (6). A lesson to take from this swing is that you can get away with some error (in this case being inside on the take-away) if your fundamentals—stance, grip, ball position—are good enough.


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