Why I would rather be Jimmy Walker than Tiger Woods
Jimmy Walker won the Frys.com Open on Sunday and I'd take that over 14 majors from Tiger Woods.
I was writing Sunday about Rory McIlroy's breakup with Caroline Wozniacki for, as my editor pointed out, "not the first time" and I got to thinking about how much it must suck to be Rory McIlroy.
Sure, the pickup games with former presidents are nice and so is the astronomical contract from Nike and the prodigious talent he was blessed with -- but the rest of it, you can have it.
This is primarily a Tiger Woods argument but because McIlroy is a moon orbiting the Woods planet it kind of affects the Ulsterman as well.
Every single thing Tiger Woods has done in public for at least the past 10 years has been written about.
If I was him, that would drive me up a wall. You couldn't pay me enough money to live that life.
And McIlroy got a taste of it this season. The rabbit hole was maddening. McIlroy (sort of) addressed this earlier this year when he tweeted the hashtag #FTB which, allegedly, stands for f--- the begrudgers.
That's probably what I would say as well.
Woods has mostly stayed away from the scrum. He's not on Twitter -- well, he is, but it's clearly an account run by his team -- and he rarely engages with the public at large other than at, you know, golf tournaments.
He's as secluded a superstar athlete as there is in sports today. But the reason for that is because of the madness.
Alan Shipnuck described the scene at last year's one-on-one matchup between Woods and McIlroy in China.
"[it was] chaotic," with marshals locking arms to hold back thousands of fans and "so many camera clicks it sounds like machine-gun fire."
McIlroy is caught somewhere in the middle. He's a forerunner of a generation of golfers for which social media is key in brand building.
But you can tell he doesn't exactly want to participate -- he has only tweeted three times in the past three weeks.
Which brings us back to this past weekend's Frys.com Open champion, Jimmy Walker.
You know how much money Walker won on the PGA Tour last year? How about $2.1 million ($300,000 more than McIlroy, by the way).
You know how many people on earth could pick him out of a lineup? Not 2.1 million. Probably not even 2.1 thousand.
He doesn't get berated on social media, he can take his family out to dinner without getting hounded by autograph seekers. The burden of being Jimmy Walker is not grand.
And he's still a millionaire many times over from playing the game of golf. That sounds like the best of both worlds to me.
I'm not saying his road has been easy. He addressed that after his win on Sunday.
"I've gone through everything," he said. "I've played -- not on every tour, but on a lot of tours. I won on a lot of tours. This is kind of the final steppingstone."
But it sure has not been as frustrating off the course as the life of Woods or even McIlroy, who was recently, for the second time this year, given unsolicited advice from Gary Player about the prospects of choosing a wife.
McIlroy gets unsolicited marriage advice via the media! I'm guessing Jimmy Walker has never dealt with that.
A few years ago Jason Sobel of Golf Channel asked Tiger what the worst thing about being Tiger is.
"Anonymity," he said. "Something I think I lost when I left college."
Is that something you would trade for hundreds of millions of dollars and 14 major championships? Maybe, but I wouldn't.
There's another sort of sad story about Woods that goes like this. He was asked about his favorite thing about going out on his private yacht and he said something like "staring at the fish because they don't stare back at you."
That does not sound like a very enjoyable existence to me. An iconic one, for sure, but not enjoyable on any level.
I value the normalcy that comes with being anonymous. You still get to compete on the most elite level -- it's not like they strip that from you when your name is Walker instead of Woods or McIlroy.
And even if you win a major, not much when changes -- would anyone who doesn't watch 25 hours or more of the Golf Channel weekly recognize Lucas Glover?
When you're Jimmy Walker you get to leave the world of being on CBS and NBC and playing in majors and re-enter the planet as a normal civilian on Mondays.
If you're McIlroy or Woods, you may try to leave it but it never really leaves you.
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