Don’t count me among those sad to see Tiger Woods sitting out this year’s US Open (June 13-19, Bethesda, MD). I’m not a member of the ‘Golf Is Boring Without Tiger Fan Club.’
Not because I dislike the guy. I could do without the displays of anger but otherwise, he seems normal enough. As for his personal life: suffice to say, there are plenty of certain scumbags in this life without going-gossip and looking for reasons to hate on the rest.
About the only people who’re gonna’ miss the detached Mr. Woods are his corporate connections, ESPN interns, Signature Tiger Woods club-holders and those fans who can’t get enough of domination. And I don’t mean the sado-masochist kind.
Whether it was Jordan’s Bulls (beating the likes of Sonics & Blazers) and Mike Tyson’s string of stiffs (pre-Buster); or certified reigns like King Richard Petty, Lakers Showtime and Billie Jean King, some fans will always equate supremacy with excellence.
Not this fan. In my world, competition, rivalry & variety are the spice of sport. This year that would mean the Mavericks & Heat, Canucks & Bruins and any NASCAR weekend.
Before Woods there was Nicklaus, winning his record 18 majors from 1962 (USO) to 1986 (Masters). But as dominant as Jack could be, fans were still treated to a cavalcade of competition that included the likes of Palmer, Player, Miller, Trevino and Watson.
Since Tiger first burned bright in ‘97 (Masters), only Phil Mickelson has provided top rivalry with any regularity on the PGA Tour. When The Machine began to sputter in 2009, parity quickly stepped in. Given the iron-grip he’s had on the leader-board for nearly fifteen years, parity / variety is a welcome change.
Rather than test the knee / tendon at a course he finished 19th in ‘97 (CCC / USO), better aiming for the British in Kent (July). A third place at Royal St Georges in 2003 gives hope of getting back in the hunt for the only thing (professionally speaking) Woods seems to care about today: besting the Golden Bear’s career mark of winning 18 PGA majors.
We know he doesn’t need the loot (“Woods earned $75 million over the past 12 months,” Forbes.com / 6-1 / KB), even with a huge divorce settlement.
And he doesn’t need anymore PGA hardware (And collegians don’t own the trophies they earn (OSU)? The stench of greed grows with every layer peeled off the onion that is the convoluted world of college athletics. I know…players get a free education. There are more unemployed degree-holders today in the USA than the number of dimples on all the golf balls Tiger Woods has ever wacked).
Like many stars today who get fixated on pursuing records (Barry Sanders & Mr. 3000 the rare exceptions), Woods will not be content until crowned Mr. Majors. It’s Cal Ripken refusing a needed day off to top Lou Gehrig or ring-rich, HOF bound Emmitt Smith hanging-on to pass Walter Payton.
Woods may never reach the number 18. He won’t get to 15 if he doesn‘t get healthy, get centered and stop obsessing on the majors. This single-minded pursuit may’ve already become Sisyphean-like in it’s frustration (Greek with boulder) and we’re seeing its effect.
Golf is gonna do just fine without Tiger Woods on top. Today’s new crop of stars have no fear of the Tiger charge. If he wants back in the swing he needs to love himself a little less and start loving the game a lot more. If Stan Ross could do it, so can Mr. Woods.
Keys to Sport: This article is dedicated to the memory of the late Bernie Mac.
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.