February 27, 2018

Was able to watch quite a bit of this past weekend’s Honda Classic in between family obligations and stuff and was struck by how quickly Golf Channel has reverted back to its prior incarnation of the “Tiger Channel” where you could go anywhere without seeing Tiger or hearing Tiger’s name dropped into every feasible conversation possible. I mean, to some extent I get it: Tiger’s latest comeback attempt is newsworthy both to golf enthusiasts and most especially the casual observer who tunes in only to see how Tiger is doing, but his quality of play is nowhere near how it is being hyped by those who ought to be able to keep things in perspective.

For example, at the end of Saturday’s round Tiger is, like, eight strokes back with a dozen players in front of him. Yet, there’s Jim “Hello, friends” Nantz asking Nick Faldo if Tiger has a chance to win on Sunday. To Faldo’s credit, he didn’t jump up and down and say, “Absolutely!”, instead he chose the path of least resistance by going through all the unlikely scenarios that would have to happen, stopping just short of saying, “Well, if the entire field collapses in a heap of rubble and monkeys start flying out of their collective butts…”, which is really all he could do. I mean, no one likes to say someone of Tiger’s abilities and past achievements stands as much of chance of that kind of comeback as a snowball’s chance in July, but there’s nothing wrong with a little dose of reality – the audience tuning in ought to be able to handle it. Then on Sunday, there’s commentator Mark Rolfing, with Tiger something like five back at the turn, teasing the audience with the question of whether we’d see Tiger’s first comeback win. I mean, come on – there were like three or four golfers at the top and they all were barely out of the gate! Why not just say that it’s simply good to just see Tiger on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday (which at that time he was)?

Look, I watched the entire round while filling out senior housing applications for my dad. Did Tiger play well? Sure. Did he stick some nice approach shots from 150 yards in? Absolutely. But so was everyone else out there, and when they did it, it wasn’t as if the heavens opened up on their particular golf mastery. And the opposite held true as well: Tiger missed a few putts in the 6-8 foot range out there, but he wasn’t the only one. I guess all I’m trying to say is that, while its good to see Tiger Woods out there right now, you’re seeing a very ordinary golfer by PGA Tour standards. He’s still trying to figure out things and get his weekend endurance back, so his comeback is still a work in progress, but he’s never going to be that much better than the field like he was in his glory days. Not only is Tiger older, but the equipment has changed and the golfers are younger, stronger, and have a fearless and total disregard for par. Tiger is going to be respected out there, for sure. But feared? I don’t think so.

As I’ve said before, I could see Tiger winning the occasional tournament again – perhaps even a major were he to catch lightning in a bottle over some four-day span, but the days of him dominating an event are over. And I just wish that the national media would be honest with the viewing public about how both the game – and Tiger himself – has changed since the era of his domination, something we’re not likely to see happen to the same extent ever again. It would all be so much more enjoyable if instead the media would cover Tiger’s comeback without all the unnecessary hysteria and hyperbole.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 07:11 | Comments Off on Tiger Tales
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