Written by Joe Kleinsasser Tuesday, 04 August 2009 15:26
The recent British Open makes you appreciate TW more than ever before. That’s TW as in Tiger Woods and Tom Watson.
When Tiger Woods failed to make the cut, it was headline news in the sports world. He rarely misses a cut anywhere, anytime, much less at a major tournament. We’ve unfairly come to expect Tiger to be at or near the top of every leader board.
When Tiger struggles, it’s headline news. What Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com wrote sounds more like the average Joe, not Tiger. “Did you see Tiger at Turnberry? He barely hit his driver, and he still couldn’t keep the ball in Scotland. Someone needs to send him a photo of what the fairways looked like.”
The British Open showed how difficult golf can be, even to someone as great as Tiger Woods, maybe the greatest golfer the world has ever known.
If Tiger has a weakness, it may be that he throws too many tantrums. ESPN columnist Rick Reilly said, “He is the world’s most famous and beloved athlete. And yet he spent most of his two days at Turnberry last week doing the Turn and Bury. He’d hit a bad shot, turn and bury his club into the ground in a fit. It was two days of Tiger Tantrums—slamming his club, throwing his club and cursing his club. In front of a worldwide audience.”
Tiger may surpass all the records of those who preceded him, but it would be nice if he wasn’t disrespectful to the game and to those he plays with.
If you think we’re seeing more Tiger tantrums because TV shows his every move, think again. Reilly said, “You’re wrong. He is one of the few on Tour who do it. Put it this way: Will Tiger let his own two kids carry on in public like that?
“If it were my son, I’d tell him the same thing. ‘Either behave or get off the course.’
“Come to think of it, if I were the president of Nike, I'd tell him the same thing,” wrote Reilly.
After all, Tiger is paid nearly $100 million to represent some huge companies, from Nike to Accenture.
To be fair, Reilly says Tiger has grown in every other way. “He’s committed, responsible, smart, funny and the most talented golfer in history.”
And then there’s Tom Watson, one of the best golfers in the world, two to three decades ago. Here was a nearly 60-year-old man doing his best to turn back the clock.
He was in first or near the top throughout four days of golfing against the best the world has to offer. He was only an 8-foot putt away from winning it all. Turns out, it might as well have been eight miles.
Watson lost the playoff, but his performance won the admiration of sports fans around the world, not to mention especially anyone over 50. Probably the only people not rooting for Watson were those related to the winner of the British Open, Stuart Cink.
There are few sports where someone approaching 60 can compete at the highest level with 20- and 30-year-olds. You don’t see it in baseball, football and basketball.
Maybe it can be done in tiddlywinks and checkers, but not golf. Yet, here was Watson coming within an 8-foot putt of winning a major golf tournament. It would have been one of the great accomplishments in the history of golf and one of the most notable in all of sports.
Alas, the clock struck 12, and the dream vanished.
But that’s OK. Although he was emotionally tired and tremendously disappointed, Watson walked into the press center and quickly sized up the mood: “This ain’t a funeral, you know.”
Rarely does a major championship end like this one—to polite applause from a gallery of long faces. Rarely is the loudest cheer for the player who wins the silver medal.
There are few things in golf that Watson could teach Woods, but remaining composed in the midst of frustration and disappointment is one of them.