Tiger Woods Raises Ratings - and Questions
Tiger Woods has missed most of the season due to his injured left knee. In the past decade, he’s fractured the tibia, torn the ligaments, and had it operated on several times – turning it into the kind of hamburger more commonly seen on NFL running backs.
But he returned this week to
play in his first PGA tour event in months. This is big news in
the golf world – because without Tiger Woods, there’s barely any
golf news at all. Watching golf on TV without Tiger Woods is like…watching
golf on TV.
Woods returns ranked 28th
in the world – his lowest mark since he was just getting started 14
years ago. So what? The TV ratings will skyrocket.
People love him, people hate
him – but few are indifferent. His first decade was arguably
the greatest any golfer ever had in the history of the game. After
winning his 14th major tournament in 2008, the question wasn’t
if he would pass Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major titles, but when.
But a funny thing happened.
Well, maybe not that funny – especially if you’re his ex-wife.
Since Tiger’s sex scandal, he has not won a tournament.
Bacon Theory #342 maintains:
You can fool the fans most of the time, and the press some of the time,
but you can never fool the guys in the locker room. They know
exactly who you are – and they don’t like Tiger Woods.
Actually, they don’t even
know him. Woods flies in on his private jet, plays his round,
then flies out, without talking to anyone. In the clubhouse, every
golfer wants their rivals to sign golf balls and flags for their tournaments
back home, but Tiger almost never does. He is simply not a good
But they don’t dare say anything,
because they need the ratings boost he gives the game, which boosts
their prize money and their sponsors.
But I think everyone is still
missing the central question. It’s not his affairs. He’s
a professional golfer, not a priest. The scandal cost him plenty
of popularity and money, but not a single tournament.
It’s not even his left knee.
Yes, it might prevent him from beating Nicklaus – but I doubt it.
This is a man who won his last major on one good leg.
No, it’s Canadian doctor
Anthony Galea, who was arrested in 2009 for allegedly giving performance-enhancing
drugs to athletes. Fine, that’s his problem – but it might
become Tiger’s problem, too. Tiger admits he met with the shady
doctor at least four times that same year. Woods has always claimed
it was for a special blood thinning technique, not performance enhancing
drugs, which would make calling this particular doctor one of the dumbest
decisions Tiger has ever made -- and he isn’t dumb. But we have
little choice but to take him at his word, because Woods has never tested
But in golf, there is
no drug testing. It is the only major sport where you are not
only encouraged to call penalties on yourself, but expected
to. And they do – every week. But run afoul of that honor
code, and golf will not forget. Hall of Famer Gary Player is still
haunted by the accusation that he moved a leaf by his ball in a 1983
exhibition. It was never proven. It doesn’t matter.
That’s why, if anybody ever
proves Tiger has taken a performance enhancing drug, he will find both
his competitors and his sport uniquely unforgiving. He has no
safety net. Who would stick his neck out for this man? His
fellow pros? The tour officials? Or his incredibly loyal
caddy of 12 years, Stevie Williams, whom he just fired last month?
The seeds of Tiger’s tragic
fall might already have been sown. And if it comes to pass, he
will lose everything he loves most. No, not his ex-wife, his kids,
or even his millions. But his 14 major tournaments.
Copyright© 2011, Michigan Radio
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