Yet not everybody was negatively affected by the biggest public-relations hit in golf history. In fact, one increasingly prominent player used a bit of backdoor kismet resulting from Woods' travails to carve a massive place for himself at the table with the game's biggest stars.
Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion and the hero of the European win two weeks ago at the Ryder Cup, might not have accomplished either if not for Woods' massive personal issues. He related the amazing connect-the-dots story of how receiving a last-minute invitation to replace the host of the Tiger Woods Chevron World Challenge tournament in Southern California last December changed his whole 2010 trajectory. Woods withdrew rather than face the media scrutiny as the scandal was unfolding.
Rest assured, I am not at all a fan of giving world ranking points to boutique mini-tournaments like the Chevron event, the World Match Play or Sun City cash grabs, but in this case, it worked out perfectly for McDowell, who finished second to Jim Furyk in the Chevron last fall.
How many doors did that open? Let him tell the tale. Here is McDowell, in his own words, explaining to the Belfast Telegraph how that particular last-ditch invitation changed his entire year:
“What happened at the end of last season, and getting the invite to the Tiger Woods golf tournament, was the real catalyst for everything that has happened for me this year. I walked off the golf course in China, with Rory [McIlroy] and myself just having lost the World Cup by a shot to the Molinari boys.
“My manager, Conor Ridge, suggested there was a shadow of a chance, what with the Tiger Woods story unfolding that week, that I might get an invite into the Chevron World Challenge.
“As it so happened, I was flying home from China to Orlando through L.A. that week, so I said of course I would get off the flight there and take my chance. I don’t how Conor managed to do it, but we got the nod on the invite and then I go and finish second.
“I moved from 55th to 38th in the world, it got me into Augusta and smoothed up the start of the season. Then after Wentworth, I get into the U.S. Open right on the bubble at world No. 50.
“So if I had not been top 50 at the end of last year, I maybe would not have got off to the start I had this year. Maybe I wouldn’t have got myself into the U.S. Open and things like the Ryder Cup.
“It was just one of those very fateful moments.”
Yep, sort of the reverse of driving over a fire hydrant and into a tree.