Tiger Woods came into the WGC this week and of course I was fooled in to thinking, Finally! Again we were disappointed and eventually something has to give.
The sporting world wants Tiger to be great again for many reasons. Some are real fans who just want to see Tiger win. Some people (PGA, ESPN, etc) need Tiger to be great again because of the massive attraction and financial gain he provides. Some people just fell in love with the greatness. Woods has had chances and it’s early in the process but how long will people hold on? How long will people tune in to a Sunday where Tiger shoots par and is left in the dust by a group with a third of the crowd?
My true question, “Is golf better with an average Tiger or without Tiger?” If you consider that Woods greatness now seems folk lore. During his first round victory, against the Spanish player with the long name, the announcers discussed the disappointment that Woods was forced to hit an 8 footer to seal the win on 18. His opponent had stated earlier in the week that Tiger was beatable, and the announcers talked about the Tiger of old. They stated he would have come out and buried this guy in 12 or 13 holes. They spoke about the advantage Tiger Woods had just walking to a tee box. His greatness was intimidating enough to give him a 1 or 2 stroke advantage before a club was even swung.
The legend has now become greater than the golfer and it’s becoming sad. People always discuss the amazing year of 2000 but as recently as 2006 he won 8 times on the PGA Tour, including 2 Majors. He has not had a victory on the Tour since 2009 and has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open with a busted knee. Winning percentages in golf are more like batting averages in baseball where failure can still be great! Through 2009 Tiger had an astonishingly high winning percentage of 28%. So nearly 3 out of every 10 events he entered he won. 2nd on that list is Hogan at just over 20%. Tiger didn’t just have a legendary few years; his career path was something out of Greek mythology.
20 years from now when I talk about Tiger Woods I will talk about the intimidation and the fist pumps. I will talk about the putt at Valhalla, the runaway at Pebble, but at some point a punk kid will talk about his fall. I will probably defend him as I do Michael Jordan when some one doesn’t get it! Yet, watching the descent has been painful, as the definition of greatness plunges into the ordinary. Tiger will win again and its possible he wins a Major again. Maybe this is what it felt like from 1980 to 1986. Jack Nicklaus won 2 majors in 1980 and didn’t win one for 6 years until his final Major victory at the Masters. In that time frame he only won twice on the tour but finished 2nd an amazing 21 times! Are we there with Tiger already? Has his greatness dwindled to the point we will only see moments instead of weekends?
I asked the question if golf is better with an average Tiger or no Tiger at all and it’s hard for me to imagine ordinary is good for golf or Woods.
Category: Pro Sports