Never thought I’d say this: Golf no longer needs Tiger Woods

April 09, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Never thought I’d say this: Golf no longer needs Tiger Woods

It’s official now.

Sports, golf, the PGA Tour…those three no longer need Tiger Woods.

In fact, for the first time in, well, maybe forever , Woods actually needs the game of golf far more than it needs him.  Without golf in his life, Woods has nothing at all to hang his hat on.  And if that golf doesn’t include winning and holding up big trophies and cashing large checks, Tiger becomes just another player chasing the dream.

One thing for sure.  He’s no longer the game’s best player.  Sure, that could change sometime in the near future.  Remember, he’s not quite three weeks removed from a victory at Bay Hill in Arnold Palmer’s tournament.  Everyone is entitled to a bad outing here and there. Woods, however, isn’t the best player alive, as he was from 1997 through 2009.  He’s clearly the player with the best career currently active on the Tour, but others are better than him now.

To me, the most important part of the Woods collapse in this year’s Masters is that a handful of highly capable players were there to pick up where he left off.

As Sunday’s final round at Augusta showed, lots of other players can hit shots under the gun and make putts when it matters and shoot 33 on the back nine “coming home” to win a green jacket.

Woods is no longer a necessity.

If he somehow comes back from this latest fall-from-grace at Augusta and works his way into contention at one of this season’s three remaining major championships, it will surely be fun to watch.

But don’t count on it.

And if Tiger isn’t a factor at Olympic or Royal Lytham or Kiawah, it won’t matter much, because someone like Bubba Watson will come along at the U.S. Open in June and make the four days well worth following.  Just like we saw at Augusta when no fewer than six players could have wound up winning at some point over the last 90 minutes of Sunday’s 4th round, someone’s story will be told at the U.S. Open.

There’s still a part of me that wants to see Woods return to glory and challenge the elusive 18 major championship record held by Jack Nicklaus.  I know lots of people who are Tiger “haters”.  One of the things I’ve learned from nearly 20 years of playing “tournament golf” at the amateur level is that wishing ill will on a fellow competitor never works, for starters, and takes your mind off the task at hand, more importantly.  With that ingrained in my golfing brain, I’ve never been one to root against anyone, even when it’s Tiger Woods and he’s playing in the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship and I’m not.  I don’t openly root against any player.  Not Woods.  Not Mickelson.  Not Garcia.  None of them.  They’ll do what they do on the course and I can either appreciate it or not, but it’s never been a habit of mine to cheer a bad shot or a missed putt or a bad round.

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8 Comments For This Post

  1. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Sadly, couldn’t agree more! As an avid golf fan, I followed this one time once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon with admiration and awe until his demeanor started to belie his reverence and respect for the game. Now, seemingly consumed by anger, he has become an embarrassment to himself and the game of golf. The Masters was one of the more exciting tournaments in recent memory featuring a rare “double eagle”, a tournament literally up for grabs and an array of talented young players with a first time winner who played spectacularly and, perhaps more importantly, won with grace and humility! Yes, the game of golf needs more Bubba Watson’s than it does Tiger Woods………

  2. bigkat Says:

    Drew,
    Surprisingly enough I tend to agree, I wish I could be as elegant as the Armchair QB in his surmise. But this year’s Masters had as much excitment as those won by Tiger and Phil. I love to watch Tiger and I am glued to the T.V. when he is in contention, but This Masters was one for the ages. Maybe not the social impact as 1997, but the changing of the guard for the avid golf follower. We all guessed what life after Tiger was going to be like, I expected a torid run, one I could tell my grandkids about, and then a run on the champions tour of biblical proportions. But I guess this is it; time for another chapter on the PGA tour. I still think for a time there; Tiger was the most dominating of athletes of his time, with the ability to change the outcome of events by his presense alone, that time has come and gone. But it was sure fun while it lasted.
    I hope he gets back to his winning form, but barring a miracle, I think him surpassing Jack’s record, is in the rear-view mirror.

  3. matt Says:

    golf may not need woods, but it needs someone like the old him. the old guard is dying off fast, the new guard is europeans. how many americans are going to watch a bunch of euro’s play golf? not enough to keep the sport alive. (DF: You obviously don’t follow the sport or you would have rattled off American names like Bradley, Watson, Simpson, Haas, Mahan, Fowler, Johnson, Watney…they’re all going to likely be major championship winners at some point in the next five years.)

  4. Paul Says:

    Golf is better off. Would rather see many golfers in contention rather than one dominate

  5. Mike from Carney Says:

    This is one more step from being removed as a Tiger Apologist, Drew. That kicking of the club was another chapter of the rise and fall of a legend. But I saw all this coming 1 1/2 years ago. Will he win again? Yes, but will it make a sound that anyone can hear?

  6. joe of bel air Says:

    I am one of the “Tiger-Haters” as you like to call them and the reason why is not because I am a racist, or that he had a white wife or that I am jealous of his skill level. No the reason I am a Tiger hater is because I find it hard to cheer for someone who is a despicable human being. The guy had the world in the palm of his hands and threw it aw3ay. The stories you hear about Tiger off the course paint him in a very poor light. He just doesn’t seem to be a very nice person. Cheering for Tiger would be like hoping Bernie Madoff won mega millions a few weeks ago. Why cheer for someone like Tiger when there are guys like Bubba and Phil competing on the tour, both of whom seem to be really good guys. I still find it strange that Tiger hasn’t been the same since the Canadian blood spinning doc got busted for smuggling roids into the country. Earl Woods did a hell of a job raising a golfer but a very poor job raising a son. I wonder if Earl would be as proud of Tiger as a man as he was of him as a golfer.

  7. Mark Says:

    Drew-
    Great comments. I saw Bubba Watson interviewed on TV this morning. When asked if he felt that his father would be proud of him for winning the Masters, Bubba’s repsonse was “I think he would be more proud of the man that I have become”. THAT statement tells you all you need to know about the difference between Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods. Also, I thought your comments on the radio yesterday (4/10) were spot on when you talked about Bubba’s faith. He doesn’t win because of it (God is on no athelete’s side)but it allows him to play loosely because he knows that golf is not the most important thing in his life; his family, faith, and friends are. When golf is not the only thing in your life, you don’t become angry on the course. Maybe that explains Tiger’s outburst……without golf Tiger Woods doesn’t seem to have much in his life. Bubba knows that without golf he has a full life; I believe that Tiger knows that without golf, his life is quit empty.

  8. matt Says:

    drew, you have yourself a chinese lunch if any of those guys win a major within the next year (watsons this year does not count). id say 5 years but thats too long a bet.

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