Against all logic, Tiger Woods shouldn’t be counted out

Tiger Woods returns to center stage today, but this time on a golf course. (Jason Getz/AJC).

Tiger Woods returns to center stage today, but this time on a golf course. (Jason Getz/AJC).

AUGUSTA – The breakdown is simple: It’s every logical argument vs. one resume.

Logic says Tiger Woods can’t do it. The resume says, “Tiger Woods can’t” are words that don’t co-exist.

Phil Mickelson said, “That’s a crazy question to ask: Can he win?”

Steve Stricker said, “You wonder how he competed at such a high level with all of this stuff going on. It’s actually scary to think if he gets his mind a little bit freer and uncluttered that he could be better.”

Fred Couples skillfully argued both sides: “It would be crazy for me to say he’s not going to do well, but it would be crazy for me to say he’s the guy to beat because he hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in five months.”

Golf’s re-examination of Tiger Woods officially opens Thursday.  The Masters will have to settle for second billing for now.

The membership of Augusta National doesn’t want to hear that. But round one is about Woods. If he plays great, he’s the story. If he sprays tee shots into the pine straw, he’s the story. If he shoots par after five relatively golf-less months dominated by TMZ, the National Enquirer, “sex addiction” therapy, please-PLEASE-erase-your-name-from-your-phone-machine messages, “sexting” transcripts and even a verbal slap by one Billy Payne, the golf world will marvel.

Every sports book has Woods as the favorite. Never mind that he hasn’t played a competitive round since November. Never mind that his practice partner, Mark O’Meara, puts his game at “75 to 80 percent.” Never mind that Woods needs to lease storage space for all of the clutter in his cranium.

The alleged mistress count hit 16 on the eve of the tournament with a report that he had an affair with the 21-year-old daughter of his neighbor in Isleworth Country Club. This would be a new low.

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Even Payne uncharacteristically felt compelled to admonish Woods during his annual state-of-us news  conference Wednesday. He labeled Woods’ conduct “egregious.” He added that “his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but by the sincerity of his efforts to change. I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing but would settle for his smile.” Ouch.

Then again, this is Tiger Woods. How many competitors have shown greater resolve?

His game is rusty. He didn’t have a warm-up event before his first real return to golf, which just happens to be the sport’s biggest stage. He wouldn’t even play in the two-day Tavistock Cup on his home course two weeks ago because he feared he wasn’t physically ready. (Not physically ready for an exhibition?)

Then again, this is Tiger Woods. He won the U.S. Open in 2008 on a knee that required reconstructive surgery immediately afterward. So what constitutes physical readiness?

His personal life is falling apart. He can’t possibly bounce back so quickly from public humiliation and function on a mentally challenging golf course, knowing every fan who is watching knows so many lurid details of his life. His wife isn’t here. There was a better chance of Elin Nordegren grilling steaks and mixing margaritas for her battalion of divorce attorneys than showing up at Augusta National to play the good wife. This isn’t an election. Besides, she doesn’t need to be here to collect his winnings.

Then again, this is Tiger Woods. He never has experienced humiliation like this. But in 2006, he finished third in the Masters, even while his father, Earl Woods, was nearing death. After Earl’s passing, Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but he followed with wins in the British, the PGA and his final six tournaments of the season. Does that say something about his mental toughness?

He’s still Tiger Woods.

He is still Tiger Woods, isn’t he?

“The fact I haven’t really played at all, that’s a little bit concerning,” Woods said the other day. “I’m hoping to get my feel back quickly — feel for the game, feel for shots, feel for how my body is reacting and what my distances are going to be. I hope I get that back relatively quickly. Hopefully, it’s the first hole. If not, please hope it’s the second hole.”

Those words don’t convey confidence. But can you say, “Tiger Woods can’t,” and feel comfortable?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC


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61 comments Add your comment

Eric

April 7th, 2010
5:47 pm

Been out of town. Glad you’re back, Schultzie.

Dap01

April 7th, 2010
5:47 pm

Who cares? ESPN and Nike?

Chuck

April 7th, 2010
5:49 pm

Tiger will have 90 bodyguards in tow to move rocks, knock down fences, find missing balls, kick out balls in the rough into the fairway, move cables and make unplayable lies playable. How can he lose?

lanier

April 7th, 2010
5:52 pm

Thank God you arn’t writing about Jason Heyward like your cohort. Im so damn tired about that kid I might not even watch the pregame. Thanks Jeff you do a great job

BravesFan

April 7th, 2010
6:00 pm

Lanier: o.. and writing about Tiger isnt even MORE played out!?? Who cares, id like to see a sports writer write a article about someone other than Tiger for a change! Personally, i hope Tiger fails terribly and is never the same. I know all the coverage on CNN and FOX news made me sick, so many REAL issues to talk about, like how a cultures morals could be so low that a 7 year old gets gang raped while 12 people are in the apartment, and no one stops it!?

Old Man

April 7th, 2010
6:03 pm

He’s merely the most skilled golfer who ever picked up a club. I don’t give a hoot how many women he ran around with. They don’t hand out championship trophies for moral purity. I will never count him out.

Bob Horner stayed hurt

April 7th, 2010
6:05 pm

bottom line…we’ll ALL be watching tomorrow on ESPN….I know the ESPN folks are happy….how will Tiger do..?? we have to watch and see….

Mark

April 7th, 2010
6:21 pm

Odds are he doesn’t make the cut……..

black sheep

April 7th, 2010
6:26 pm

It was his decision to not play before the Masters- had to carefully pick the place where he would be coddled by the instituion and not throw him into the briar patch first. The managing and controlling continues. Yes he is atill Tiger Woods Jeff- and that includes all the good AND the bad. I’m pulling for a MC.

are you kidding me?

April 7th, 2010
6:28 pm

Old Man Of course you don’t care how he has acted on the course or off. And that says more about you than about him.

are you kidding me?

April 7th, 2010
6:39 pm

Jeff I am sure you will keep us updated on the tournament as you carry Tiger’s jock around this weekend. Afterall he is still Tiger right> The Tiger that is never chastised by sports writers- who is never chastised by the golf channel or golf announcers(except for Johnny Miller) who si never chastised by the PGA. Please please tell us how thrilled you were with Billy Payne’s chastisement. Can you? Will you? Got guts?

wxwax

April 7th, 2010
6:42 pm

He’ll be lucky to make the cut.

Golf is an exacting taskmaster (I almost wrote “mistress” but I think we’ve had enough of those.) An unprepared golfer really doesn’t have a chance. Woods is woefully unprepared.

Maybe next year.

todd grantham

April 7th, 2010
6:50 pm

Jeffrey, you know how ‘heroism” works in America in sports figures or celebrities. If Tiger is even in the competition Sunday the public will forgive all sins.

I like golf not tigger

April 7th, 2010
6:55 pm

todd grantham I don’t think so – there are far more fans who have had it with Tiger than you think.

[...] Max Lance wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptAUGUSTA – The breakdown is simple: It’s every logical argument vs. one resume. Logic says Tiger Woods can’t do it. The resume says, Tiger Woods. [...]

Bob Horner stayed hurt

April 7th, 2010
7:10 pm

I like golf not tigger …I gotta jump in here..Todd is right…IF Tiger wins people will gloat and “love” Tiger…not me…but most people….I was taught buy my dad “golf etiquette”…I don’t throw my clubs and act like like a jerk on the golf course…..but I’m in the minority, sadly….

I like golf not tigger

April 7th, 2010
7:30 pm

Bob Horner stayed hurt I’m not saying MOST of his fans have had it- I’m saying many more than you might think have indeed had it with his actions both on the course and off. For far too long he has been allowee to skate through life with no one apparently ripping him when he screwed up. I remember a quote from someone labeled “an old friend” in one story who said he never understood why Tiger got married- that he had been doing these things for years- even before he got married. These actions were not just the last 3 years. No one ever seems to have the guts to stand up to him and tell him when he is wrong- until now.

BIRDDAWGONE

April 7th, 2010
7:47 pm

“The alleged mistress count hit 16 on the eve of the tournament with a report that he had an affair with the 21-year-old daughter of his neighbor in Isleworth Country Club.”

“After Tiger Woods’ mea culpa, it’s time for us all to back off”

Jeff, You are funny!

lanier

April 7th, 2010
8:18 pm

Braves Fan bite me

Ted Striker

April 7th, 2010
8:26 pm

Jeff Schultz is absolutely correct. TW is the story of this week, like it or not.

I don’t pick him to win but I pick him to finish in the top 10-15. He could do better but I don’t see him doing worse. I’d enlighten the rest of you further with more prognostications but now I’m going to research photos of mistress #16. She piques my interest.

OldTimer

April 7th, 2010
8:41 pm

Enter your comments here

Mark

April 7th, 2010
10:10 pm

75-72-70-68 = 3 under….does that win ?

Cracker Jacket

April 7th, 2010
10:33 pm

Why is Tiger not being drug tested? He has proved that he is a liar so why trust him now! He gets a pass but Bonds, Big Mac and all the others are shot down but why does Tiger get a free pass?

Fair and Balanced

April 8th, 2010
12:22 am

If all this personal stuff really matters to him then I predict he does not make the cut. If he is still in some kind of denial and can blot this out of his mind then he can win the way he did when he was cheating etc.

By the way Cracker Jacket, Tiger gets a free pass because he means money to too many people.

indianman

April 8th, 2010
3:39 am

if anybody think tiger wood can win the masters i know where a brain doctor is

OK, I'll ask again......

April 8th, 2010
7:01 am

…where is all of the moral disgust, righteous indignation, and front page coverage in the AJC, on Sports Center/TMZ/Inside Addition/CNN/MSN/NBC/ABC/CBS, etc minute by minute coverage of Tiki Barber leaving his pregnant wife for a 23 year old intern with whom he has been having outside of marriage relations?

The Real Driver

April 8th, 2010
7:24 am

Bush league comments by Billy Payne!

The Real Driver

April 8th, 2010
7:25 am

Mark

April 7th, 2010
6:21 pm
Odds are he doesn’t make the cut

I’ll take those odds!

The Real Driver

April 8th, 2010
7:26 am

wxwax

April 7th, 2010
6:42 pm
He’ll be lucky to make the cut.

Golf is an exacting taskmaster (I almost wrote “mistress” but I think we’ve had enough of those.) An unprepared golfer really doesn’t have a chance. Woods is woefully unprepared.

Maybe next year.

Another wannabe.

[...] >> Golf’s re-examination of Tiger Woods officially opens Thursday. The Masters will have to settle for second billing for now. AJC’s Jeff Schultz. [...]

The Real Driver

April 8th, 2010
7:28 am

Cracker Jacket

April 7th, 2010
10:33 pm
Why is Tiger not being drug tested? He has proved that he is a liar so why trust him now! He gets a pass but Bonds, Big Mac and all the others are shot down but why does Tiger get a free pass?

If Tiger gets tested then everyone gets tested. That simple. Get it? Sour grapes because he beats all your favs.

The Real Driver

April 8th, 2010
7:29 am

Whyis it when I see “Fair and Balanced” it never is?

PM

April 8th, 2010
7:55 am

Kudo’s to Billy Payne and the members at Augusta National for telling us all that Tiger’s behavior is our business! However, it’s time for it to end. Enough already.

My son has been a Tiger hero since he was 10 (he is now 25)and not just because of his golf. He was the public hero on the Wheaties box, the Nike ad’s, and lots of other ad’s that portrayed Tiger as someone kids should model their life after. He disappointed everyone and sent the wrong message.

People who say it’s none of our business don’t see that they are contributing to a society that is falling apart.

Harry Pooter

April 8th, 2010
8:19 am

I’m still in shock regarding this whole adultery scandal involving Tiger because I always thought he was gay.

I hope he gets drilled in the face with a golf ball and I would be willing to bet it wouldn’t be the first time he’s had a ball in his face.

Gawdfather

April 8th, 2010
8:51 am

Come on, Schultz, you gotta call out Billy Payne. It’s the height of hypocrisy for a member of Augusta National to disparage anyone on moral failings, and harping about “the children”. And unseemly to hear lectures emanating from that bastion of power and privilege.

TommyJack

April 8th, 2010
9:04 am

Nope, a man that hasn’t played a competitive round in 6 months cannont win the Masters. Not even Tiger.

CiscoKid

April 8th, 2010
9:15 am

Yes, its Tiger walking on the green on the back nine on Sunday afternoon with a comfortable six-stroke lead coming down the stretch. There is Tiger again on the 18th with an insurmounable lead taking his final tee shot getting ready to be sized for another green jacket. The tournament is over and Tiger is putting on his fifth green jacket. Yes it looks to me like Tiger is back and winning his 15th major tournement. Tiger Rocks!

washedup

April 8th, 2010
9:22 am

Old Man. I’d put Bobby Jones higher. .retired at 28, 13 majors. .wouldn’t play for months, then play a practice round and win. .always played as an amateur.

I believe if Tiger makes the cut, he’ll be in the hunt on Sunday, maybe win. .top five for sure. .if he makes the cut. How’s that for a bold prediction.

As for Billy Paynes’s comments. .that’s an annual speech the chairman makes. .if he had said nothing, he would have been criticized. I didn’t hear a scolding as much as I heard Mr. Payne saying he disappointed us, now let’s see going forth. Believe me, if Augusta National was not okay with Tiger being in the field, he wouldn’t be there. The Masters can get by without sponsors, it can get by without Tiger. But I’m glad he’s there. .makes the tournament more fun to watch, even though I watched it for years before I even knew there was a Tiger Woods.

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:25 am

Thanks Eric.

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:25 am

Thanks Lanier (but Jason Heyward is pretty good).

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:26 am

Are you kidding me? — Tiger is never chastized? Have you been paying attention the last 5 months?

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:27 am

Todd — Agreed to a point. I don’t think everyone will forgive him but many will. Others will never look at him the same.

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:28 am

Striker — photos on The Big Lead and other websites.

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:30 am

OK, I’ll ask again: You’re right. He’s a dirtbag. How’s that?

Jeff Schultz

April 8th, 2010
9:32 am

Gawdfather — I’ll give you the part about hypocrisy, especially since there have been issues in his own family closet.

DamYankee

April 8th, 2010
10:17 am

All this self-righteous moral outrage over the sexual peccadillos of an athlete – where is the outrage over the deaths of 29 coal miners in a mine that has been cited with dozens of safety violations and done nothing more than pay some fines and call their lawyers and paid-off political buddies for some cover? And now their spin-meisters are trying to blame the miners for the tragedy. I haven’t heard squat about accountability for this event from the “Fair and Balanced” crowd and don’t expect to. How about a little perspective?

Tucker T

April 8th, 2010
10:24 am

I think it’s interesting that the PGA is publicly criticizing Woods when in reality they would want him to play even if he had done something far worse than what he did. The PGA desperately needs Woods and if I were the PGA I wouldn’t go poking the bear.

willdave

April 8th, 2010
10:34 am

I believe this controversy over Tiger Woods has been blown way out of proportion. The man did not commit serial rape or mass murder. All his activities took place between consenting adults. Nothing was forced upon anyone. If his wife has a problem with what he did, that is a matter to be resolved between the two of them. It should not involve the entire world.

Look, let’s keep it real. Wealthy, famous, powerful men have had mistresses since the beginning of time. They will continue to have mistresses after we are all long gone. Unless you are married to the man, let Tiger play golf and stop worrying about his personal life.

Tell It Like It Is

April 8th, 2010
10:39 am

Tiger in any golf tournament is entertaining and creates drama. But the Masters is not just any tournament. Whether he wins or loses, the game wins as he is the most entertaining player that golf has ever seen. I will set back and watch the show.

jim roland

April 8th, 2010
10:41 am

he will not win the masters.