On Saturday at last weekend’s Player’s Championship, we had the next albeit minor controversy concerning Tiger Woods.
Sergio Garcia stood 273 yards from the hole on the par five second. Woods, his playing partner across the fairway in the left rough, prepared to hit his second shot from 272 yards.
As Sergio swung, he was disrupted by mild applause from the gallery as his fellow competitor decided on his shot selection and choice of club.
The interruption caused Sergio to look inquisitively in the direction of Woods following Sergio’s errant shot into the boonies. The question is did Tiger act maliciously or was Sergio overreacting?
Tiger couldn’t see Sergio from his vantage, but I’ve watched him for a long time now and conclude that Sergio’s accusatory look in Tiger’s direction wasn’t without lack of merit.
Great players are not only great strikers of the ball. They are great putters, great bunker players and great course strategists — and they are great intimidators.
If you study Tiger as I have, you will observe first that he is a magnificent, physical specimen.
He has a manner of placing himself in locations that are to his best advantage when opponents are putting, which is exactly two degrees of angle within the peripheral vision of his closest competitors.
He walks with deliberate slowness to his ball when he knows he will be first to play from the fairway if he knows his playing partner is in the slightest bit impatient.
In the converse situation, he will march quickly to his ball when he is the longer of the two, stand near his ball and pace actively to unnerve a slower player. He will continuously putt out to aggravate a slow player and mark his ball to affect a fast player.
Tiger Woods is a psychological genius. He not only plays the course and himself, but he plays his playing competitor psychologically.
Sergio has a history of looking at the glass half full and being maligned by the golf gods. On the other hand, there is a consideration and level of respect due every player whether you like them or not. Otherwise, the competitive atmosphere is not equal for every player.
It has taken me the better part of 20 years, but I’m beginning to wonder about the “Tiger Affect.”
Without any doubt, PGA Tour purses have multiplied thanks to the influence of Tiger Woods. When he is in contention, ratings explode, but hardcore golfers are already watching.
The expanded numbers come from casual golfers, non-golfers and /or Tiger fans, none of which generate more rounds of golf played, so the impact is only on the marketing of products sold via TV commercials, not the growth of golf.
In fact, since Tiger came onto the scene, the number of rounds played has decreased, the number of new courses has increased and the cost of equipment has gone through the roof.
The massive influx of minorities who felt they weren’t welcome into the golf community who were supposed to be encouraged by Tiger’s presence has failed to materialize.
Wealthy investors who knew nothing about golf and were convinced the Tiger Affect would generate millions if they built overpriced, unplayable Taj Mahal’s are going bankrupt.
In my opinion, Tiger Woods is one of the greatest players who ever lived who has adversely affected the overall well-being of the game. Sure, he can putt. Sure, he can shoot the lowest score. Sure, he can beat everyone. However, I wonder what his legacy will be?
It won’t be growth or betterment of the game. It will be the most wins, maybe the most majors and the most money earned by an athlete, but once again, I say what a wasted opportunity to do something extremely good on a global scale.