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The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Out of the woods

Photo Contributed by KeithAllison_Flickr

“The Masters.” 

Those two words can bring chills to golf fans across the country. This tournament has the best atmosphere in all of golf. For me, the champion throwing the green jacket on his shoulders officially ushers in spring. This year, however, something will be different. The tournament field will be without one of its four-time champions,  one of the most controversial figures in golf, sports and possibly in the country. 

Tiger Woods. Drop the name in casual dinner conversation and things can quickly turn into a heated debate. 

You see, everyone has an opinion on Woods: they either love him or hate him, and there is no in between. No one is indifferent towards Woods. If you have strict moral and social values, you are probably one of those who would throw Woods a dumbbell if he were drowning. I am not one of those people. I am a Tiger fan. 

Or at least, I am a person who wishes Woods would transform into the “Tiger of Old” and play some phenomenal golf again. 

The past few years, we have watched with awe and anger as Tiger Woods ousted his long time caddie, Steve Williams, changed up his swing a few times and escaped an inescapable death at the hands of his 9-iron-wielding wife. The 2008 U.S Open was Woods’ last major win, and there are a number of words that could be used to describe his personal life and golf career since then. Use your imagination. 

He has had back surgery and knee surgery. His life has been nothing short of a roller coaster since November of 2009. Sure, he has won multiple tournaments in the last seven years—The Arnold Palmer Invitational, the AT&T National and the Memorial tournaments, to name a few—but he hasn’t won any majors. Let’s be honest, no one cares if Woods wins or loses, unless it is The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open or The British Open.

Will Woods ever finally get his game, swing, life and everything. back together? Only time will tell. Personally, I will try not to get my hopes up, as I have in the past, because recent history has shown that the outcome will be a disappointing one for Tiger fans everywhere. This summer at the Quicken Loans National, Woods got my hopes up again. He shot a 68 on Thursday and a 66 on Friday. On Saturday, he shot a 74, and then he shot another 68 on Sunday. Going into the weekend, he was tied for fifth. On Sunday, he finished in a tie for 22nd … Total Tiger move. 

I will admit that Friday night, I let myself believe that Woods may have had a shot to win the tournament, but a 74 on Saturday only beclouded any glimmer of hope I possessed. Even if he had won, let’s be honest: it was the Quicken Loans National. It is not a Major — it’s not a tournament that people like me really and truly yearn to see Woods win. It’s not the Augusta National.

Most people have strong animosity towards Woods because of the way he has conducted himself off the course over the past several years. When you are an incredible athlete and role model to children across the country, cheating on your wife does not help your public image. I know many people think Woods is a terrible person. I know what he did was wrong. I know many people may hate him. Right now, put all that aside. Think about Tiger Woods the golfer, not Tiger Woods the person. 

Woods is one of the most iconic sports figures of our time. Golf is simply better to watch when he is playing great. Isn’t any sport better to watch when the best are playing at their best? 

When Woods is on a roll, people who don’t know anything about golf tune in to see what unfolds, just like how people who don’t know the first thing about football still watch the Super Bowl. I may really not like Tom Brady, but that doesn’t mean football is better without him. It amazing to watch any great professional athlete play their game at their level, no matter which team they’re playing for. 

I am not defending any of Woods’ off course actions. What he did was wrong, there is no denying that. However, I wish people could put all that aside and think about the great golfer that he is. The truth is, they cannot. It is nearly impossible. It is our human nature to have ill feelings towards someone who cheated on their spouse — especially someone we once held so high on our list of people to admire.

If Tiger starts winning like he used to, who knows? Maybe Gatorade will start to make that “Gatorade Tiger” stuff again; it was my favorite kind.

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