A Masterful Lesson

I watched a hell of a lot of golf this weekend. I do that one weekend in April every year. It’s a tradition like no other. If I played the same amount as I watched, I would have halved my handicap.

While watching, I marveled at my complete and utter dislike for Tiger Woods. Why do I want anyone but him to win? On Friday, why did I silently cheer when his half wedge at 13 hit the pin on a bounce and caromed back into Rae’s Creek? The Saturday morning penalty was icing on the top. Why do I root so intensely against him? Why does he bring out the worst in me?

My anti-Tiger mania is especially odd since I grew up in Cypress, California a small-medium sized suburban city six miles from Disneyland. It’s most famous for being El Tigre’s hometown. In my teens, I anonymously worked and played the same courses he did so famously in his well documented youth. And he’s a brother in a lily white sport desperately in need of diversity. And his talent is undeniable. And the way he grinds on every shot is admirable. But that’s the kindest thing you’ll ever see me write about him.

Was it the serial womanizing? No. My deep-seated antipathy precedes that downward spiral. Is it the Michael Jordan-like mix of constant commercialism and over the top materialism. In small part. Is it my nostalgia for Nicklaus and my childhood. In small part.

The much larger part came to me while watching Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera on the second playoff hole. Cabrera hit a very solid approach on the par 4 about 18 feet below the hole. Scott’s mid-iron ended up about 12-14 feet to the side of the hole. Clutch as it gets. Cabrera walked as he watched Scott’s shot in the air. When it landed, he turned and gave Scott a thumbs up sign. Class personified. Scott shot him one right back.

An epiphany exactly one week after Easter. “That’s it!” I realized. Humanity in the midst of the most intense competition imaginable. We’ll never, ever, ever see Tiger do anything like that. His intensity routinely crosses from the admirable to something that makes me root against him. We will never see Tiger applaud an opponent especially in a moment like that. Or reciprocate as Scott did. Never ever. Maybe it’s his dad’s fault, but Tiger learned to focus so intently on winning that everyone and everything else be damned.

I wish the golf press would make a pact and do us all a big favor and just stop interviewing him. He always looks so pained and he never says anything the least bit authentic. He always gives the answers he thinks will end the interview the fastest. The following dialogue bubble should be superimposed on the screen whenever he’s being interviewed, “How much longer until this god foresaken interview with this god d*mned idiot is over?!”

My position on Tiger will soften when a groundskeeper, a golf journalist, a waiter, a caddy, a Tour player, or anyone not on his payroll says something genuinely nice about him. Something that reveals his humanity.

I’m not holding my breath.

8 thoughts on “A Masterful Lesson

  1. I hardly watch any golf on television and I play the game only slightly more often, though lately here I am getting in a full 18 holes about 2-3 times a month. I agree with you that it’s Tiger’s cold mannerisms that make him less appealing but for me it’s always been the crass commercialism for him or any overpaid jock. When people like Michelson whine about having to pay higher taxes after making $4.5 million a year playing the game he loves and makes another $45 million in endorsements, I want to puke.

    I’m always glad to a see a boy or girl make good from their humble beginnings but when they forget where they came from and allow their wealth to define them then I have no admiration for them at all.

    When athletes, who never put in a full year working,even when training, make more in a year than a teacher or other public service worker will in their entire life, I’m angrily reminded of how our social priorities are so miserably skewered.

    • No you didn’t! Larry, you know you can’t say anything negative about Lefty. Hey, that’s an ironic nickname isn’t it?! You should expect a knock on the door from some PGA suits.

  2. Ron,

    After reading today’s post a salient question raced into my feeble mind – Are the one who called in reporting Tiger’s illegal drop on No. 15 on Friday, and if so, how did you get the phone number?

    Keep up the great work!

  3. It shows how much sporting excellence is idealized in our society. Most of us know about his character flaws, but people want to see Tiger because they want to see the guy break records, play crazy good. People are thrilled by spectacular achievements. I bet you will prefer to watch Tiger, to root against him, then see him disappear. He a compelling figure. P.S. Love Cabrera’s approach on the 18th, pure clutch.

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