I remember watching Tiger Woods win his second US Amateur Championship somewhere around a dozen years ago. I must admit, in the early days of le Tigre, I was not a fan. I was a Freddy Couples man. I loved the idea that you could win a major championship while looking like you poured milk over a bowl of muscle relaxers and called it cereal.
But no, of course not, that was too good to be true. Tiger Woods had to come charging in with his “fitness” and “energy”. I feared we were going to lose the hangover’s only known comfort, lazy Sunday afternoon golf.
“Shhh…. quiet please. Els stands over his 6 foot putt for par…… …. he backs off.”
But Tiger’s fire didn’t damage golf, it made it exciting. I can still get lulled to sleep by Bob Costas giving me a verbal massage while they pan around the pretty flowers at Augusta, but when it comes down to the big finish, I would no longer dare being caught in a doze. There’s usually a Tiger afoot.
It’s tough to believe in most athletes nowadays, with steroids, scandals and other disappointments. And it’s easy to be a negative Nancy and predict these failures, because true greatness is rare; thus, betting against it is easy. For years there was always a group of people who thought Tiger was a flash-in-the-pan.
Those people no longer exist. From negative sports commentators (Skip Gayliss) to the most positive (Bob Costas), everybody is in Tigers corner. Eventually, I think you realize you’re watching something so rare and special that you want to be a part of it. I jumped on Tigers bandwagon (which is a semi-truck with a Ferrari engine) years ago, and have been loving every minute since.
He’s classy, intelligent, and crazy competitive. And his wife is dumb hot, but um, I suppose that’s irrelevant. I say we enjoy the next 5-10 years of Tiger’s peak, because he makes golf that much better. He’s forced everyone else to be better, and I can no longer imagine my Sunday’s without him.
Rock on Eldrick. Congrats on breeding an heir.
Afterthought: I’ve scoured the net and cannot find one suitable compilation of Tiger highlights that I feel accurately represents his greatest shots, largely because the volume of them is so huge that the lists get narrowed down. “Best short game shots”, “Best shots in majors” and similar titles are often the heading for Tiger lists. I’ve been watching Tiger shots for almost an hour and his top ten highlights from list to list rarely include more than one or two of the same shots.
220 yards from a bunker over water with the tournament on the line in the Canadian Open? Six iron to 15 feet.
The running point he did after a long par putt to stay in contention at the US Open? Legendary.
Jarring it from the fairway on 15 for eagle to move one back of the Matthew Gogle, the leader (who he eventually overtook)? Count it.
What about any of his nine aces, or the ridiculously long putts he’s canned on British Open greens? Unimportant footnotes.
But, if you’ve read my stuff recently, you know what I consider the best shot of all-time, in any sport. Better than Ovechkin from his back, better than the Michael Jordan (push-off, but who cares he rules) jumper against Utah in the finals, better than Kirk Gibson’s shot outta the park. Screw Christian Laettner. The best shot ever goes to….. :
(I put the long version on for context, enjoy the two minutes)
IN YOUR LIFE HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT!? Of course, Tiger goes on to take The Masters. Poor DiMarco had to putt after that. If you see the shot from different angles, Tiger has a moment of heart-break when it looks like it’s not gonna go in. It does.