Never thought the day would come, but it's here. For the first time since Tiger Woods' Masters debut in 1995, I don't want him to win it. Or be in contention. I would just as soon as he not make the cut.
Sort of hoping he goes away entirely, to be honest with you. Retire. Take up fishing. Move to the Galapagos Islands. Just drop from sight, would be my preference for Tiger Woods.
|A victory at Augusta would zoom Tiger Woods back to the forefront of the golf world. (AP)|
Lord knows I'm tired of it, and please, do not misunderstand. This is not me wearing my schoolmarm clothes and putting my hair into a bonnet and tsk-tsking Tiger Woods, you shameful young man, keep that thing in your pants!
No. That's not me. And thank goodness for that. Can you imagine me with a bonnet? Disturbing. But so is the Tiger Woods story. It's disturbing, and it's depressing, and it's not ever going to get better. And I say that with some sympathy. He's human and he suffered a common human failing, albeit in an uncommonly public and plentiful way, but he's a person who got caught doing what many people do. Not going to trash him for his mistakes.
But I am going to say that his reputation is gone and, like his golf dominance, it ain't ever coming back. He can turn his life around and marry a virgin named Mary and it just doesn't matter. There isn't enough lipstick to put on that pig of a scandal he lived through -- and put us through -- starting in November 2009. Every day it was something else, and all of us survived, but enough's enough. I was tired of this story within five days of its first break. I don't want to hear about it again, and as long as Woods stays out of sight, and off the Masters leaderboard, his story will get pushed farther into the closet where it belongs.
Will it ever completely go away? No. Of course not. He was too good for too long, and his downfall was too sudden and too shocking. Tiger Woods always will be part of the golf conversation. But please, no more sentences like this one:
Tiger Woods shot a 64 on Sunday to win the 2011 Masters, signaling a return to dominance after a long slump in which he was winless since ...
If Tiger Woods' golf game comes around, as he all but predicted it would, it'll be like he was never gone. Read More >>
No. No more. Because a sentence like that would be followed, eventually, by sentences about his marriage and divorce, his Perkins waitress and porn stars, and I'm done with it. Not because Tiger disgusts me, but because the story depresses me. This wasn't just a guy battling alcoholism or drugs, beating his addiction and coming out the other side with a story worth telling. This was a life destruction, and not just his life, but the life of his wife and his children. His mother. His wife's parents. What those people went through, well, you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy. So why would I wish it back onto the interface of CBSSports.com?
Not me, and this is a sea change for me, because I'm like most of you: For almost 15 years I turned on the television to watch Tiger Woods win. That's how golf always has been marketed to us, and like Pavlov's dogs, we've gulped it up. Show us the best player in the world, whether it's Palmer or Nicklaus or Norman, and we turn on the TV wanting to watch him win. Golf is the most front-running sport of all, the only story where the underdog story isn't merely discouraged in advance of major events, but worse. It's ignored. Like, if we don't mention it, maybe it won't happen. So let's mention Phil Mickelson one more time. Plant that seed in the universe, and watch it grow.
Doesn't always happen that way, obviously, and after some nobody wins a major, it makes for an interesting story. It was neat to discover, for example, that 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem sold cell phones before getting good enough at golf to earn his tour card. But that's not the guy we're rooting for ahead of time. Nobody says, "I hope a former pipe-fitter from Fairbanks wins this week!"
No. We want Tiger to win, because we like watching history. The greatest golfer today, maybe the greatest golfer of all time, is playing right in front of our eyes? That's powerful. I wish I had been alive for Babe Ruth or Jim Brown or Wilt Chamberlain. I wasn't. But I was here for Tiger. I've seen him win by record margins, with historic shots. I've seen all of that, and have seen other stuff. Different stuff. More stuff than I ever wanted to see