Innumerable sport talk hosts and plenty of their media brethren have definitely gone over-the-top in their almost orgasmic excitement regarding the return of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour and competitive golf. These unabashed sycophants and worshippers at the altar of Woods have become absolutely giddy, breathless and unable to contain themselves at having Tiger back on the course after an absence of approximately three months due to back surgery.
With the way that some who either have a microphone, face time on t.v. or a byline are telling it, we are witnessing something akin to the Second Coming. Heck, a papal visit generates less commotion. To these purveyors of hyperbole, the goings-on in the Middle East amount to a back page story compared to having Woods swinging it again. Their sacred hero is back and because of that, all is right with their world. To them, Tiger’s reappearance is more newsworthy than just about any other worldwide event. God creating the heavens and earth was most impressive. But to his legion of lemming-like followers, Tiger’s return rates right up there with anything the Almighty accomplished. It seems as if we’re being asked to put the world on hold because having Tiger back is earth-shattering stuff, right? Well, not to me it isn’t.
Though the mass media would have you believe I’m the only one in America who feels this way, I didn’t miss Woods a lick. Not one iota, not even a smidgen. I absolutely loved and relished being able to follow golf without being constantly bombarded or saturated with Tiger talk. The honest truth is that even when he isn’t or shouldn’t be the story, the media will nonetheless go out of its way to make Woods the focal point. Forget about journalistic integrity or giving other players their just props or due. The networks and the cable outlets, in particular, seem to view Woods as the continual epicenter of the golfing universe and as such, everything must revolve around him. Anything or anyone else therefore becomes almost inconsequential.
But I resist and pushback from such lazy thinking. Usually, I find those embracing such a viewpoint to be myopic, ignorant of reality, chauvinistic and nothing more than shameless honks for Woods. Their idolatry of Woods has arguably crossed over into obsession where reason and balance has run amuck. It’s gotten to the point where anyone who challenges the premise that golf is nothing without Woods is accused of heresy and sacrilege. Mustn’t dare suggest that Tiger isn’t the be all or end all.
But here’s a bulletin to those who genuflect to Woods. The sport doesn’t cease to exist just because Tiger isn’t on the scene. If the game of golf can survive the departure of such giants as Hagen, Jones, Nelson, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player and Watson, it can withstand the disappearance of Woods, be it of a temporary nature or when it becomes more permanent. Those that are convinced that golf, with its’ vast international fingerprint will shrivel up and die once Woods exists stage left, are just plain delusional. Woods is undeniably a supremely gifted practioneer of the game, but he isn’t its lifeblood.
I can’t sit here and maintain a shred of credibility if I claim that Woods isn’t a great player and a phenomenal talent. Though it pains me to do so, not being an big admirer of either Woods the person or the man, I must grudgingly place him second in the pantheon of golfing greats behind only Jack Nicklaus. My reasons for rating the “Golden Bear” superior are both numerous and valid but that argument will have to wait for another time.
But just because Woods is historic that doesn’t mean you continue to treat him as if he’s some kind of deity or bigger than the game itself. He’s not the alpha and omega of the sport, though I’ve heard even some that should know better make this ludicrous claim.
Another bogus argument countless talking heads try to peddle is that golf is irrelevant, immaterial and meaningless without Woods’ presence. Excuse me while I gag. Rarely have I heard such nonsense or to be more precise, crap. Those that actually believe that golf can’t be captivating, compelling or entertaining sans Woods aren’t golf fans, they’re simply Tiger Woods fans. And there’s a huge difference and distinction between the two.
One only need look around to come to the realization that golf has plenty of other personalities aside from Woods, who give the game plenty of juice and gravitas. Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson is a creative genius with an intriguing mindset. Young Jordan Spieth has been a revelation with his consistency and high-caliber play. When isn’t the unpredictable but often brilliant Phil Mickelson worth a look? Rory McIlroy’s talent is prodigious and he’s shown a recent resurgence that might foretell something special could be in the offing. The fact that popular Adam Scott has ascended to be the world’s number one is a testament to his masterful skill and ever-growing composure and maturity. German Martin Kaymer has the look of a potential superstar after having won the both the Players and the U.S. Open in most impressive fashion.
Moreover, you don’t appreciate the game if you can’t find something to like about gifted and accomplished players like Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Zach and Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. And where are you going to find a more fascinating figure than the ponytailed and cigar-chomping Miguel Angel Jimenez, a remarkable 50-year-old who could easily double as the most interesting man in the world? And I’m just skimming the surface. There are plenty more players deserving of mention here but time constraints won’t allow. But you get the drift. The upshot of it is Tiger is far from being everything. The landscape isn’t exactly barren without him.
But now that he’s back, the overhype and over-emphasis of Woods will once again be unleashed. Whether deserved or not, most of the press attention will be focused squarely on him. The manner in which the Golf Channel handled its coverage of a rusty and non-competitive Woods in his first event back only underscored that point. Most everyone in the media seems hellbent on making sure that Tiger is always front and center, regardless of the justification to put him there. He will always be the go-to story and their favored subject, no matter what.
As for yours truly, I’ll adopt a much broader perspective and look to others to provide my viewing pleasure when it comes to golf. Take Woods out of the equation and it’s still a great game to me. Not having him around didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it in the least. Though there are countless misguided souls who would disagree, Tiger Woods isn’t bigger than the game he plays. Golf is so much more than just him. Too bad so many people won’t open their eyes to see that fact. They’re too blinded by the Woods mania to know what they’re missing.
Source: pgatour.com – Players/Tiger Woods/Bubba Watson/Jordan Spieth/Phil Mickelson/Rory Mcllroy/Adam Scott/Martin Kaymer/Jim Furyk/Matt Kuchar/Zach Johnson/Dustin Johnson/Sergio Garcia/Jason Day/Rickie Fowler/Miguel Angel Jimenez.