Friday, July 24, 2009

Hero of the Week - Rick Reilly from on Tiger Woods

I think Tiger is amazing, and have certainly blogged about it. But lately, many have noticed his on course antics, and are quite frankly, growing tired of it. It's been well known that TV doesn't always cover everything during an event, and people have been quietly posting about Tiger's behavior when the camera isn't on, etc. So I will first defend Tiger somewhat, but frame this defense in the context of a hope that he might start to show a bit more on the course.

Tiger is one of the most recognized people on the planet, and a figure that transcends sports in the sense that you may not follow golf, but you know who he is. So with that said, he can't go anywhere, and people by and large are dopes, so with that in mind, it's a wonder he can tolerate these folks. But that is the price to be paid for fame. There are no free lunches. A simple example, Tiger gets paired with [insert any name here] and they are standing in the fairway waiting to hit their approach shots to the green. It's Friday, not even Sunday, no charge up the leaderboard, nothing. And so player "x" hits his approach to 15 feet and the crowd shows its appreciation by clapping. Tiger hits his approach to 15 feet, and the crowd goes berserk. Tiger's ball is no closer to the hole, yet the spectators, both on the course and in their living rooms, are screaming wildly like a bunch of dopes. These are the people that, like the tourists in NYC, have not a clue.

But even with the enormous pressure of being in the public, I do believe that Tiger owes the game a bit more that has given him so much. We've all played with the dude that throws his clubs, or yells when he makes a birdie like it was the first one ever made, but playing with these people can be one of the longest rounds of your life when you find yourself with this person. I have had the misfortune of playing with a fair number of people like this, because I often travel or get to the golf course as a "single" and get paired up. Thinking about who I might be paired up with on these rounds is a lot like gambling. On my best days, I personally have found these people somewhat fascinating, because it piques my intellectual curiosity, but even that wears off quickly. (I'll save you the suspense, the person is always a narcissist.) The game is hard, and it's the pursuit of trying to perfect the game, knowing you only borrow the game, that makes the game great to those of us who play rather than tell you the score they shot or the birdie they apparently made that no one else can.

My final point is this. I'd choose Phil every time over Tiger to drink a beer with in a bar. If you watch Phil, he gets it in the sense that he's almost as big as Tiger to their sport, and all the guy does is win majors, and give high fives to the spectators as he walks to each tee. And the fact that he does these things despite all that he has going on is remarkable, at least to me.

Links to Mickleson's Recent Off-Course Trevails

Link 1

Link 2