It’s hard to get excited about professional sports these days. Though not all athletes are prima donnas, the ones that are suck all of the oxygen out of the room. Perhaps worst of all, though, the major sports leagues themselves have catered to the lowest common denominator among our ranks by virtue signaling to woke leftist identity politics.
The NFL just announced that every coaching staff has to have a non-white, non-male member, for example. As with Brandon’s selection of a non-white, non-male SCOTUS nominee, it’s impossible to avoid the glaring fact that white men are reviled. Irish need not apply? Coloreds around the back? That’s so 19th and 20th century, and also quite banal. This hatred of white men feels more closely related to the first step of wearing yellow stars.
We’re already racists, insurrectionists, and domestic terrorists. Far be it from me to connect the gigantic dots.
The PGA Tour has largely ignored this wave of gross pandering and utter condescension. That probably has something to do with the lack of self-righteous, bloviating athletes as seen in the NBA or the desire to alienate its predominantly white base. Maybe PGA executives feel the same way (I doubt it), but at least they don’t remind viewers every five seconds of their fake moral superiority. As a golf organization, they focus on golf. Imagine that.
Admittedly, this grotesque politicization didn’t take me from rabid fan to cord-cutting ascetic overnight. I was already losing interest in most sports on account of diminished play (when was the last time someone in the NBA boxed someone out for a rebound?), raising a family, reclaiming my Sundays for hobbies and travel, and the games themselves losing universally-loved players.
To that last point, as escapist as watching a round of golf might be, there is still something missing. Yes, Koepka was/is dominant. Yes, Phil has still been there. Reed has lit up the Ryder Cup. Spieth had his moments. Other names have appeared as well, and even grace the leaderboard with some frequency. Each time, we are promised the next Tiger Woods, a comparison so unfair both to the player, who will never live up to the expectations, and Woods himself.
Nothing touches what Tiger Woods has done. There will never be another Tiger Woods.
Twenty-five years ago, a young Woods took the entire golf world by storm with his sensational, record-breaking performance at Augusta National. For the next decade, Woods was the name in golf and in some respects, the entire sporting world. In his prime, you could bet Woods against the field – the FIELD – and not get even money. It is hard to fathom one person being so head and shoulders above the rest of their professional competition, particularly in an age of specialization and hyper-focused training.
Tiger and The Masters are almost synonymous. After his blitzkrieg in 1997, Woods went on to win other majors and by the time he earned his second green jacket had completed the so-called Tiger Slam. Betting the field, Tiger Slams, Tiger-proofing courses – he reinvented how the game was played and watched.
In 2005, Woods holed one of the most memorable chips in golf history. Does sport get any better than this? Tiger in his prime, competing again in his Sunday Red, neck and neck on the famous par-three 16th, and then this magic:
Who misses this Tiger Woods? Amazing shot at the 2005 Masters ?? pic.twitter.com/0U6uk7zt2A
— 30 Second Plays (@30secondplayss) December 28, 2015
People inherently love greatness (unless you’re a Democrat; then you love equity). Tiger Woods was great. He was more than great. Even if you had money against him on that memorable 2005 Sunday round, it was still impossible to not be in awe. Who else would pull that off except him? In that instant, Woods cemented himself as the epitome of a dominant competitor.
What happened to Woods circa 2008/2009 was a shock to all of us, but in retrospect understandable. Before the age of ubiquitous smartphones and social media, we didn’t have the same access to athletes and celebrities. Therefore, when Woods’ scandals broke, it was real news. We only knew of Woods the golfer; more private anyways, we saw him only between Thursdays and Sundays and even then he was walking the course. We weren’t interacting with him.
Did people ask how he handled the pressure? How lonely he must have felt on the top? Woods was a god among men for those six hours between teeing off and shaking hands after the final putt. He had peers, but no one could relate to that excellence. And he vented steam in one of the few ways available. I am not condoning, nor recommending, but I do think the explanation is valid.
And that brings me to 2019 at Augusta, for my money one of those most special feats in sporting history. I can’t help but feel that a confluence of multiple events have somewhat/somehow reduced the magnitude of this accomplishment. Other sports fans like me checking out? Maybe. The corporate media’s assault on our free thinking? Perhaps.
I mean, the corporate convinced most of this nation that Trump colluded with Russia, that the Orange Man was threat to democracy, that Covid was natural, that vaccines were safe and effective, that the 2020 election was the most secure ever, and so much more that, without being told Tiger Woods’ epic comeback, career capstone win in 2019 was one of the best things they’d ever witness, well, they won’t think it on their own.
People also don’t have an attention span longer than five seconds. Forget celebrating the moment, most people probably couldn’t name the 2019 winner at Augusta. It’d be akin to asking who the combatants were in the Charge of the Light Brigade.
So I am here to tell people that Tiger Woods’ 2019 victory at Augusta is one for the ages.
His victory completes the story arc we yearn for in a hero, from a young, indestructible prodigy to a battle-worn comebacker making one final stand. Woods might have displayed the same tenacity as he had as a younger man, but he was not the same player. The Woods of 1997 was young, hungry, and on a mission to become number one. The Woods of 2019 had nothing left to prove to anyone, except to himself. And prove he did.
I found this summary of Woods’ final hole in his 2019 victory from Sports258:
“The crowd held its breath as Tiger stepped up and duly obliged, sending home the final putt of the Championship for glory. A sight many believed would never be witnessed again after so many injuries, health problems, and off the course personal issues.
An emotional Woods soaked in the adulation from the crowd as they had witnessed history. Shortly after letting out a primal roar in celebration he went searching for his onlooking family in the crowd. Woods hugged his children, mother, and fiance tight in scenes echoing the famous embrace he shared with his father after his first triumph at Augusta as a fresh faced 21 year old in 1997.”
Do people return from major back surgeries? Do they return better than players half their age? Do they turn back the clock twenty-five years? Most don’t. Tiger Woods did.
This story syndicated with permission from The Blue State Conservative