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Carnoustie: The duel that didn't happen

The anticipated duel between thoroughbreds Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at last week's British Open left us wondering if there ever will be a golf major event that lives up to the hype.

It might be more interesting to see their jockey's duel. Perhaps a great debate over what Hank Haney, Wood's jockey the past three years, sees in swing excellence that differs from what previous jockey, Butch Harmon saw and now sees in his newest ride, Mickelson.

Amp up the stress levels and even the world's greatest have monumental meltdowns. Witness Andres Romero's mistakes at the 17th leading to double bogey and Padraig Harrington's burn-to-burn double bogey on the 72nd hole. And what about Sergio Garcia. If he shoots par, he wins. Par 71 for his final round or par 4 on the 72nd hole, he wins.

Which leads me to pose this question: "Is hitting a golf ball about perfection?" or "Is hitting a golf ball about skill development?"

Skill development capitalizes on eye-hand coordination relying on the fine motor skills to ensure that the performance is all that it can be. "Dinks" or miss hits don't cause overwhelming trauma.

Aiming for perfection on the other hand; be it perfect plane or perfect balance leaves the performer bewildered or in a fog and the post round wrap up concludes with: "We've got more work to do to get it right." Yes. But isn't that what practice is for - getting it right?

How can a performer at Carnegie Hall play a complicated piece by Beethoven using ten fingers and eighty-eight keys and make no glaring mistakes? Like the old hippie's answer to the question: "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice man, practice!" But does the musician practice perfection or does the musician work on skill development?

I think we would all be better golfers if we trusted our eye-hand coordination and worked on skill development and not perfection.

Ed Sehl teaches golf at the Waterford Golf Club in Rock Hill and is a former pro at the Tega Cay Golf Club.

For more information see www.edsehlgolf.com