By Rob Kotaska
From 1999-2002 Tiger was golf. He won 27 tournaments in that four-year period, including a remarkable 7 majors. He was unstoppable until a dip in 2003-04. That was followed by another nice run from 2005 to 2008, where he won 25 overall, six of those being majors. Breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for most major wins seemed to be a question of how and when, not if. You could not access ESPN.com without seeing a headline about his latest accomplishment, or the anticipation of his entry into a tournament. Using popular 21st century Internet lexicon, “he was fried gold”.
Until Thanksgiving 2009 the song remained the same, “Tiger Woods is golf”. Even as he battled injuries he loomed at each tournament, the rest of the field wondering if and when he might pounce in classic Tiger fashion. Then came the bizarre crash outside his home. The fallout from revelations that he was a serial cheater, his injuries overcame him as his spirit seemed irreparably dinged. The divorce, the humiliation…it clearly took his mojo away.
What once was improbable, if not impossible is now the norm. Tiger Woods is struggling on a regular basis. Yet ESPN.com still feels the need to place his struggles on the front page as if they could somehow pass for news. All the while the leaders of each tournament get kicked to the second headline. It happened again today as Woods shot a 76 74 during the first round of the Player’s Championship.
It is a shame on both counts. Here’s guessing that the public’s obsession with following the fall of the greats is part of the reason. It could be that Woods reported ungracious attitude when he was on top is coming back to bite him. That arrogance always kept him at a distance from me.
I was never a fan of Tiger’s, he didn’t need me. I like the underdog, and find myself hoping the man can find redemption. Here’s hoping that when he does that ESPN will cover that event with the same doggedness they did his prime and fall from grace. If it gets them the hits I am sure they will. Too bad it won’t be for more journalistic reasons: that a comeback would be a great twist to a story that seems to get sadder by the day.