It's impossible, as a both a golf fan and someone working in the golf industry to write a blog without talking about Tiger's latest comeback at his own Hero World Challenge event last week. I'm also in agreement with the majority of commentators - something felt different this time. Not only did TW seem more relaxed and open, but his all-round game looked solid and without any obvious signs of pain or discomfort. From the footage I watched, I was particularly impressed with how he drove the ball, not just the distance, but the fact that he hit a lot of fairways, which has been an issue for a number of years.
From a golf business stand point, the buzz created by a TW comeback is remarkable, and underlines just how much he still moves the needle in terms of viewership of golf. This stat from the Golf Channel sums it up for me:
All this being said, we shouldn't get carried away. Albany is a relatively easy track (by Tour standards) and the event is an end of season hit-and-giggle. The real test will come in full field events on tougher courses next year and we need to see how he performs in some of those early season events before making bolder predictions. However, this is Tiger, and its hard not to get too excited when he does things like this...
Sometimes tech products are so smart yet so simple they blow my mind. This virtual fencing system for livestock from Norwegian company http://nofence.no/en/ is one such product I stumbled across via TechCrunch....
Lawyers v Machines
At the end of October, UK based legal tech start-up http://www.case-crunch.com staged a challenge to see whether lawyers or Case Crunch's Alpha "machine" could more accurately predict the outcome of legal disputes. The disputes were actual PPI mis-selling cases previously judged by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Alpha comfortably beat the human lawyers, by predicting around 86% of cases correctly, against 62% for lawyers. Although I had registered to take part, I ended up not having time to participate (which probably helped the lawyers' results!) but I am not sure I would have backed myself against the machine in an unfamiliar area of law, where Alpha had access to all database info and I would have been competing with limited background knowledge. However, this is perhaps the point of it all - if you give an intelligent machine access to information it will, in many situations, be able to interpret that information more quickly and accurately than an human.
It remains to be seen what wider application Case Crunch's technology will have, but I salute them for conducting the challenge and developing a very cool piece of technology.
Jamie McDonald is a business and legal advisor operating in the sports, media, technology and entertainment industries. He specialises in advising athletes, sports events, media organisations and tech companies on both commercial and legal issues. Prior to founding his consultancy sportsandlegal.com he was in-house counsel for IMG Golf in London for 7.5 years.