The conversation with my father goes like this:
“What tournament is this weekend?”
“The ‘All Banks and Insurance Agencies Rolled Into One’ Open.”
“Is Tiger playing?”
Whether or not I watch a single second of the tournament is dependent upon whether the answer is yes or no. According to an article from Tiger’s hiatus, the statistics tell a similar story for the rest of America’s golfers. Apologies to the PGA, but I simply do not care about the event if Tiger is not playing. And that’s where I begin a search within myself. How can that be? This is the man who cheated (multiple times) on a woman so beautiful, she would have made Moses disregard everyone else; the man who sics his caddie Stevie on photographers like he’s a trained dog; the man who curses and smashes clubs into the ground, teaching kids it’s okay to do so. And yet, even with all that, the only question I ask at the end of the day is, “What did Tiger shoot?”
I am not alone in this. In the coming weeks, SportsCenter will talk about three things: the Carmelo Anthony trade situation, March Madness, and when Tiger will win his next tournament (samplings of the potential NFL lockout will be sprinkled in). That kind of attention is only conducive to promoting an, ‘I’ll still root for Tiger,’ society. Which is strange for two reasons: one – obviously – is his past year-and-a-half. The only way I could imagine him getting more negative attention, ironically, is if he had taken steroids. Two – and this goes back years and years, something I’ve never been able to understand – he wins.
Think about it. Why does everyone outside the Bronx hate the Yankees, or everyone outside New England hate the Patriots, or everyone outside Los Angeles hate the Lakers? Because they win. All. The. Time. Tiger does too, or did, or will again. With those teams, it gets annoying to see them in championship runs every year, but with Tiger, people just want to see him keep winning. Why? Is it the way he wins, with miraculous shots, zen-like focus, and, at times when only one leg works, pure guts? Is it because we want to see him break record after record? Sure, it may be any one or a combination of those things. But I think it’s because he keeps golf, an inherently boring sport to watch on television, exciting. He used to be the type of guy who wore his emotions on his sleeves; we knew what he was thinking or feeling at any time just by watching him. He may be more reserved now, at least he cleaned up his language, but he still hangs his head on a bad shot, and stares the ball down like Cyclops when he hits a good one. This man makes every second worth watching, even with Johnny Miller’s commentating.
At publishing time, Tiger was four shots back heading into Round 3 of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Whether he wins or not is a moot point. It will end his losing streak, sure, but all attention will be paid towards Augusta in April. And all I can say when that time comes – be they for bad or good reasons – is, “Play well, Tiger. For the sake of golf.”