by TOM WEPPEL
PGA Tour, The Players…& T.Woods
In professional golf in America, you have the PGA Tour, and you also have The Tiger Woods Show.
Of course, the Tour always seems to be the kingpin of tournaments and play each weekend around the U.S. of A. There is always a pretty consistent crew of players on tap to compete for a gaggle of cash…and drawing considerable attention and interest, from national TV coverage, and also from the hordes of fans in attendance, most of whom tend to be middle- to upper class, and white, in background.
The Tour does its best to make their sport that much more attractive and interesting to its corporate sponsors, and to all the other entities involved within reach of keeping their engine running.
If there ever is even a slight malfunction in behavior, attitude, or appearance/acceptance in connection to any of its players or participants, then that usually leads to an inability of that person, or otherwise, to be connected to the Tour. In fact, it is fair to consider the Tour to be cleaner than the NFL, NBA, MLB, or the NHL.
If you don’t believe me, then go try to find any lowlifes or anyone else coming from a poor or inconsiderate background to connect to the PGA Tour, or golf, for that matter. Or better yet, go try and find where John Daly is these days!
Of course, Daly, stormed the Tour with a couple of huge wins, including two Majors…the 1991 PGA, and the 1995 British Open. After falling off considerably in the late ‘90’s, he came back to win once more in 2004, at the Buick. From then on, he has been tough to track, and his reputation certainly has not been the cleanest. Hence, his lack of exposure…and playing and being involved within this sport.
Then you look at Tiger, who has won more events than anybody else in golf in the last two decades. He has simply dominated the sport and the Tour for oh, so long, winning Majors left and right, to the point where he is now in reach to tie Jack Nicklaus, who holds the record for most Major victories.
With his incredible success, Tiger had received a vast amount of adulation and interest, from all those even remotely interested in golf. He was moving around like a rock star, or some sort of lead movie actor! He could not go anywhere without receiving amazing attention…the kind that can be great, but also be crushing. It is what has made his every move, both on and off the golf course, fall in line with being considered The Tiger Woods Show!
And his life received both, as it turns out.
From his great married life, and then to his ‘fun’ life on the road, Woods got caught up in it all. He was riding high, until a slight mishap one late night led to his reputation being hit hard. Some fans took it in and let it affect their perception of what Woods was/is all about.
And now, you turn to the present, where Tiger has certainly struggled in his drive to get back into the flow of staying competitive and winning on the PGA Tour. He has suggested multiple items that have affected his life, including physical ailments, and changing his swing (and his coaching). There is no question his comeback from what he was all about only a few short years ago, until now, has been a huge undertaking.
Despite his winning earlier this year, there are plenty of golfing experts, including former players (Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller, etc.) who are saying he has ‘lost it’ and is ‘not what he used to be’.
But are those fair and realistic comments?
Look…just because Woods hasn’t won as much as he has five or ten years ago doesn’t mean he has simply fallen apart! In fact, there are plenty of professional golfers on the PGA Tour that would consider having a victory of an event already this season to be a success!
And there are plenty of very successful, popular golfers in the history of the sport, who have had their share of play, without winning a tournament!
As a prime example, look at Jack Nicklaus.
In his late twenties, Jack Nicklaus went three years without winning a major…from the 1967 US Open, to the 1970 British Open. In his mid-thirties, Nicklaus went another 2 ½ years without claiming a Major…from the 1975 PGA to the 1978 British Open. And of course, we all thought he was finished, after winning the 1980 US Open. That is, until he won the Masters for the sixth time in 1986…at the age of 46!
I mention this, because I don’t hear anyone talking about Nicklaus, his record, or his legacy…in negative, harsh tones, like some media pundits are about Tiger these days. It is as if, some of these media types are almost WANTING Woods to fall off the golfing wagon and disintegrate! Its crazy!
Meanwhile, fans are still attracted to Tiger Woods as an entity. He is EASILY the most popular player on the PGA Tour…by a long shot! Those that are showing their interest in Tiger are NOT coming out and saying he sucks or is booing him! They simply want to see him play and play well…and possibly win wherever he goes!
Try suggesting that to the media types…
With all that said, there’s no question Woods is going to attract a ton of coverage this week (and every other week, for that matter!) during his playing, whether he does well or not! He will no doubt generate the hype! It’ll be interesting to see how everyone will react from Tiger’s performance.
One final line for everyone to ponder…is the PGA Tour better or worse having Woods back in the mix? Will they be a better, stronger entity if he wins? And for those writers, on-air personalities, and former golfers/analysts who are coming out with these wack-job comments…are you jealous, perhaps? Or do you simply want the guy to fail…
Think about it…
Sports Avenger 5/11/12
by TOM WEPPEL