Tiger Woods: Love him or hate him, he’s still the show

Tiger Woods may never fully return to form but he remains golf's biggest star going into the Masters. (AP photo)

Tiger Woods may never dominate the PGA Tour again, but he remains golf's biggest star going into the Masters. (AP photo)

If you can get past the circus and past the character defects, if you can get past Tiger Woods’ bizarre obsession with the Navy SEALs, and that three of his alleged former mistresses (porn stars) are releasing a movie Tuesday (“Notorious Tales of the World’s Greatest Golfer,” and we’re just assuming it’s not about No. 1-ranked Luke Donald), and that his former swing coach is pimping a book, here’s one undeniable truth: Woods is gold — for the PGA Tour, for the sports world, for us.

Other golfers tire of answering questions about him, but they know who moves the meter. They know who sells tickets and sponsorships and ultimately brings more money and attention to the sport, and therefore them.

Fans may be divided on him – some still clinging to the being (not human) who won 14 majors and 71 Tour events in 14 years, others refusing to let go of the being (less than human?) who burned bridges with his arrogance, rudeness, infidelities and Nike-packaged phoniness.

But Woods’ win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week should be considered welcome news, even for those who want him to do a royal face plant this week at the Masters.

He makes things interesting. He makes you watch. He creates drama. He ignites galleries.

He makes everybody ask two questions: 1) Who’s leading? 2) Where’s Tiger?

Nobody else does that.

Golf purists may not care and probably prefer otherwise: But Woods, as one of those few stars who transcends his sport, will bring eyes to the TV this week from those who otherwise find golf kind of boring.

“Say what you want — good, bad or indifferent — you’re writing about him because he’s the greatest golfer in the world,” said Billy Andrade, the long-time Atlanta pro and now analyst for the Golf Channel. “Any time he shows up, he’s Elvis. He’s a rock star. I remember taking him around for a practice round when he was 16 at the Honda Classic, and he was that way back then. He’s a game-changer.”

We’ll learn this week about the significance of Woods’ first win in over two years. We’ll see if he can drive straight and avoid three-putts and meltdowns, like those we witnessed at the Atlanta Athletic Club in August, when he failed to make the cut of the PGA Championship (77-73-Hartsfield).

We’ll see how the kid who no longer is a kid (36) can get around for four days at Augusta National after four knee surgeries and with a tender Achilles.

If Woods succeeds, the thought of catching Jack Nicklaus in career majors wins (he’s four behind) is within reach. It’s a storyline, better than some of the others we’ve witnessed.

Two years ago, it was the TMZ Masters, with stories lingering from Woods’ split with his wife, the one-car/one-tree collision, stories of porn stars and affairs and a plane pulling banners over hallowed Augusta National.

Joslyn James, one of his alleged exes, picked Masters week to display her store-bought wares at the Pink Pony. (She briefly wore a green jacket that week. He didn’t.)

This year, it’s Hank Haney, Woods’ former swing coach of six years, who’s dancing on stage with his book, “The Big Miss.” It was perfectly timed for release last week.

The book has a few interesting insights. But that doesn’t make Haney any better than James. Both are looking to profit. The only difference between the two is breast size.

Haney writes that Tiger is cheap. He writes that Tiger ate his dinner fast, left the table before he was finished and wouldn’t get him a Popsicle out of the freezer. Move over, Michener.

Haney waxes on about Woods’ fascination with the SEALs, suggesting that became more important to him than golf or the pursuit of majors. He contends Woods’ well-chronicled knee problems can be traced to several days of training (including parachute jumps) with military personnel. He writes Woods even went on long jogs in army boots around the posh golf resort of Isleworth.

Probably petrified the poor ducks.

Haney sent Woods an email: “Focus on your destiny, and that isn’t flushing bad guys out of buildings in Iraq. Just play the video games some more.”

OK. That’s funny.

“I think for Tiger it was more the challenge of thinking, ‘I can do this,’” Andrade said of Woods’ SEALs fascination. “But come on — we’re golfers, not triathletes.  Stop training like Mr. Universe. All you have to do is get that little ball in the hole — and the little ball has no idea if you lifted weights or ran five miles.”

The story has changed, even somewhat mutated. But Tiger Woods is still the story.

By Jeff Schultz

108 comments Add your comment

Techster

March 31st, 2012
3:31 pm

Yeah, he’s still “the show” for all you jock-sniffer reporters. Most of the rest of us, with morals and values (remember those), have been over this bozo for a long time. He was ultra-overexposed anyway even before revealing himself to the world as an unethical lowlife. Now you guys all expect everyone just to jump right back on the Tiger-lovefest-train with you because you want us to. I watch golf because I am a fan of the game and want to see the pros play, not because I have a man-crush on him like you news guys. I enjoy tournaments much better when he is nowhere near the leaderboard.

johnd

March 31st, 2012
3:54 pm

Definetely, he is the man. I will not sit infront of the tv to watch golf if he is not in the leaderboard. That is clear to me. I want to see someone who has a chance of shattering records. That is why I am supporting him.

jbet

March 31st, 2012
4:24 pm

Of all that’s been written about Woods, this has got to be the best line ever:
“The book has a few interesting insights. But that doesn’t make Haney any better than James. Both are looking to profit. The only difference between the two is breast size.:.

I am a fan of Tiger Woods, will always be a fan. I don’t care what he did with his personal life. I am not a saint – even saints weren’t saints. I appreciate being able to witness one of the greatest athletes of our time.

JSS

March 31st, 2012
4:40 pm

“I am not a saint – even saints weren’t saints.”

A truer statement has never been written on the AJC Blogs!

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 31st, 2012
4:49 pm

Haney is a _bag. Tiger may be one too but his legacy will not be of a hanger on leech.

Mitzymy

March 31st, 2012
4:56 pm

Tiger is the best. He always was, and always will be until he decides that his playing days are over. Then the golfing world will have to beat the bushes to find someone as fascinating as Tiger. He no longer needs the money, so now he is playing for his record. All of you who call him names, would have done the same in his situation.

Jon Nicholls

March 31st, 2012
5:06 pm

Judge the man not by his fall but how he picks himself up again

Nelson Warner

March 31st, 2012
5:10 pm

“for us?” At this point, that is a journalistic troll. People like me — who lost any rooting interest in Woods two years ago — are supposed to react and leave a lot of comments, showing how passionate we are about all things Tiger Woods. Right? Except I don’t have any “root against” interest either.

Here’s the scoop. I’m burned out on the guy. I find a hundred angles in golf more interesting, and you should know them better than me. Woods, to me, is like Lance Armstrong. I was a huge supporter of Armstrong because he was winning a lot (I guess that was the reason; he was an official “big deal,” so like a lemming I followed when the sports media told me I needed to care). He also had a great backstory. But… it turned out he was almost certainly using PEDs. Do I think his Tour de France wins were tainted? Absolutely. Was his heroic story a lie? Yes, that’s my understanding. Does it “eat me up” that he holds the record of Tour wins over earlier more-deserving guys? No.

The difference is that I am a golf fan, and I was, at best, a marginal bicycling fan. So, now that Woods is a tainted, fallen “hero,” I’m no longer all that into propping up the corpses of his bogus image. I’m ready to move into golf’s next era. It annoys me that I have to shovel through articles like this one, which are repetitive and formulaic.

Now, you know as well as I do, to be accurate you would have written, “For marginal golf fans, Woods is still the show.” For them, as with me and cycling, I needed Lance Armstrong to be involved — because I don’t know a single other name.

Anyway, maybe I’ve just outgrown sports journalism. Maybe the target demographic needs sportwriters to use crayons and create drama and strife and conflict, and otherwise rouse the rabble. Me, I just want to read about golfers who don’t have asterisks plastered all over their results. I want to follow golf because I love golf. I love a golf tournament the way I love a movie — no past or present. I judge it on its own merits. I don’t care if it wins an Oscar, or if the director can “set a record” and become the “greatest of all time.” If that’s the only way the golf media thinks it can drum up interest, we need a new golf media.

Sugabear

March 31st, 2012
5:45 pm

I’m amazed at the amount of animosity STILL being directed towards Tiger Woods. I, by no means condone his adulterous actions, but I’m not understanding the difference between him and any OTHER person, male or female, black or WHITE…Example, Bill Clinton cheated on his wife in the WHITE HOUSE, and it still didn’t produce the same amount of venomously hateful feedback that Tigers

Sugabear

March 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

I’m amazed at the amount of animosity STILL being directed towards Tiger Woods. I, by no means condone his adulterous actions, but I’m not understanding the difference between him and any OTHER person, male or female, black or WHITE…Example, Bill Clinton cheated on his wife in the WHITE HOUSE, and it still didn’t produce the same amount of venomously hateful feedback that Tiger’s indiscretions have…Maybe someone could explain that to me…

Dap01

March 31st, 2012
6:14 pm

ESPN has a crush on Tiger. No one says, “I wonder how many shots of the lead Tiger is”. But ESPN talks about him anyway ignoring the actual leaders. ESPN ignores the actual good golfers. Karma is hard on Tiger and he deserves it.

Let's Go

March 31st, 2012
6:37 pm

People may not like him but the PGA tour and the TV netwroks love him and need him. TV ratings stink when he is not in the field and the last 2 years have not been good for the tour. He may not be the best golfer in the world but he is the most valuable.

Joe

March 31st, 2012
6:38 pm

There is no difference between Haney & James… James wanted to make money from their ….. and Haney wanted to make money with his foolish brain. In future, pro-golfers will think twice before selecting him as a coach. If he has any decency and class then he should have written about the Tiger’s golf game. After all he is a golf coach, not a family psychologist or personal adviser.

Sonny Clusters

March 31st, 2012
7:10 pm

Jeff, will you bring us a pimento cheese sandwich back from Augusta? We think those things are delicious. If you talk to Tiger, let him know that pimento cheese can be used as a poultice. It may be what he needs to relieve itching and problems associated with his lifestyle. We have missed blogging here lately but we’ve been uncomfortable ever since we started having meniscus problems. Passing a meniscus is not for a sissy.

dawg4u

March 31st, 2012
7:18 pm

I have to admit that I really liked Tiger Woods when he first appeared on the golf scene and started winning all those majors and non majors. Then the incident with his wife and the Escalade, numerous porn stars, swing coaches and F-bombs have pretty much soured me on the guy plus he always acts like a first class jerk. Finally, as a U.S. Navy veteran it was interesting to read how he almost left the tour to “become” a Navy Seal. When I was in (which was many years ago) you had to really be the best of the best to even be considered to be a Seal not only physically but mentally. He may have been selected but it would have been a tougher in my opinion than all of his golf accomplishments plus the fame and money would not even remotely compare to his stature on the PGA tour. I wish him well.

The Nature boy

March 31st, 2012
7:22 pm

good read Jeff……..I don’t pull for Tiger, but I watch him…I’m Joe 6 pack…..

dawg4u

March 31st, 2012
8:34 pm

If you can’t make a good argument then play the race card. We glorify JFK and Clinton as good politicians but certainly not their infidelity issues. We glorify Tiger as a great golfer but certainly not a good husband who was faithful to his wife just like JFK and Clinton.

Amen Corner

March 31st, 2012
9:05 pm

Hope he never wins another Major!!! Has nothing to do with him being Black or being an Adulterer. Guy is arrogant, disrespectful, not humble. I could go on and on. I have specific examples of things Tiger has done at other tournaments and the way he has treated club employees. Guy has ZERO class! I care not to divulge.

bakerman

March 31st, 2012
9:07 pm

I met Tiger when he was an arrogant 18 year old freshman at Stanford. He was a double barreled jerk with a lot of talent. He was never the person that the slick packaging by Nike and ESPN, and others purported him to be. There was golf before him and his game’s demise will not be the end of golf. It will be better for the true lover of the game. I think the moral to this story is to look behind the facade of the packaging.

Amen Corner

March 31st, 2012
9:14 pm

bakerman….you know him well! too bad others don’t know what a 1st Class JERK he is!

Delbert D.

March 31st, 2012
9:24 pm

A sideshow. Like Charlie Sheen.

Redneck Bill from Trailerville

March 31st, 2012
9:26 pm

Well, Ty Cobb wasn’t very nice either, or Babe Ruth. I watch Tiger because at his best, he’s the finest who ever played the game. No one else in golf ever had his distance, his touch around the greens, his shot-making skills. The truth is that this old, fat white guy has very little interest in a tournament if Tiger Woods isn’t in it and contending. I don’t care if he sleeps with a goat, and I’m well aware of his moral failings. The truth is that I became even more of a fan after the whole world turned against him. If I wanted moral instruction, I’d go to church. If I want to see wonderful golf, I’ll watch Tiger Woods. And we must remember that the finest in their sports are seldom moral exemplars. For every Jack Nicklaus there are a thousand Lance Armstrongs or Mike Tysons.

Sloan

March 31st, 2012
9:36 pm

Wrong Schultz. Rory is the show now.

ron

March 31st, 2012
9:43 pm

Tiger may not be ranked the #1 golfer but in our mindset he’s the most important and the best.

Marth's Jerk

March 31st, 2012
9:43 pm

Hey Redneck Bill from Trailerville….If Bobby Jones hadn’t quit golf at “27″ with 13 majors, if would be a contest. He would have set records Nicklaus and Woods could only dream about.

Marth's Jerk

March 31st, 2012
9:44 pm

when Tiger breaks Jack record then you can talk..Until then..Jack is better!

Bobby Jones

March 31st, 2012
9:51 pm

I own Augusta!

Bobby Who?

March 31st, 2012
10:30 pm

Stupid to compare golf during Bobby Jones era and today. Golf was a game played only by the wealthy. Bobby Jones beat a bunch of rich boys. There are tens of millions more people that play golf now than then. The competition is exponentially more difficult now.

Marth's Jerk

March 31st, 2012
10:34 pm

Bobby Who? all relivant you tool! you can only beat what is before you! he dominated golf. If you knew anything about golf you would know. My guess is that you are about a 25 handicapper who plays at Candler Park. If you even play at all! Stick to NBA hoops! you probably know something about that.

phil

March 31st, 2012
10:37 pm

Only a gutless moron would watch, much less pull for, a sleeze like Tiger.

He is a despicable person. Only when he is gone from the game will I ever watch a tourney again. Unless it’s a tourney in which he is not participating.

phil

March 31st, 2012
10:38 pm

Tiger is a pathetic loser.

Bobby Who?

March 31st, 2012
10:41 pm

Yes you can only beat what is put before you. And for Bobby Jones it was a bunch of rich boys. As a native Atlantan I have nothing against Bobby Jones. He is an important figure in the history of golf. But I stand by my statement that it is stupid to compare golf in that era and now. There is no comparison. Who knows what Bobby Jones could do against today’s competition? But certainly not as well as against the limited competition of his time.

Marth's Jerk

March 31st, 2012
10:55 pm

what competition did Tiger have? other than phil? there were good players in Jones time as well.

Eldrick

March 31st, 2012
11:19 pm

Tiger was on steroids.

Bobby Who?

March 31st, 2012
11:20 pm

Read this regarding level of competition between Tiger’s era and Jack’s. We’re not talking about only 3 or 4 excellent players that have a chance to win every week. Today any of the 100+ teeing it up is highly skilled and can win on any given week. The $takes are much higher today and the pros take it much more seriously than ever before.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/41740-jack-nicklaus-vs-tiger-woods-who-faces-tougher-competition

Eldrick

March 31st, 2012
11:21 pm

Go get me a popsicle jerk.

KOOL

March 31st, 2012
11:22 pm

It is well documented that Eldrick’s father conditioned him to be mentally infallible on the course… however, if a little camera goes, *click*, Eldrick has a meltdown & demands that the clicker be thrown out. What a joke Eldrick is.

I’ve disliked him for well over 10 years. Adultery is irrelevant. Race is as well. I root for the field against Eldrick. Always.

Eldrick

March 31st, 2012
11:25 pm

Who the hell eats sugar free popsicles?

tell the truth

March 31st, 2012
11:27 pm

If you talk about competition between the eras, don’t forget to talk about the difference in golf equipment. Tiger would not be hitting 300+ drives with the equipment from Jones’ era! Nor would anyone else today.

Bobby Who?

March 31st, 2012
11:38 pm

Tell the truth,
Huh? I am not comparing Tiger’s driving distance now to Bobby Jones’ during the 20s-30s. I am comparing the level of competition that Tiger faces today and the level of competition from Jones era. Jones won his 13 major championships against lesser competition. And if you’re counting amateur championships, Tiger has 3 of those in addition to his 14 pro championships.

bobby's Bones

March 31st, 2012
11:48 pm

have to agree with tell the truth…With hickory shafts and golf balls made out of mush..
Like comparing Bill Russell vs. Michael Jordon
Both best of their time
You can only judge one by time they played

bobby's Bones

March 31st, 2012
11:50 pm

One other thing. Bobby had class. Tiger’s a D__K! rymes wirth Rick.

Sid

April 1st, 2012
2:28 am

I am sure his hormones are calming down. “Hormones”……..what a word.

Dude

April 1st, 2012
4:50 am

Tiger’s an A–Hole. Is’nt there a rule against slamming your club into the ground? How many times does he do it when he hits a bad shot? Some of you “TIGER GROUPIES’ must be morally challenged. What a good role model for your kids.

Dan

April 1st, 2012
5:49 am

Jon Nichols,
Yes, we all fail in many ways, not as publicly and morally, but the reaction is what counts. Scripture says that to rise again to face the issues is the real victory and is the ONLY way…can’t stay stuck.

Dan

April 1st, 2012
6:00 am

Thanks, Jeff. I hope that I never take your writing for granted. Tough to write about a man with such contradictions.

Used to subscribe to the paper for a few reasons….Braves, Bisher, Schultz and the Vent. Have long since tired of the Liberal slant and bias by this paper. It’s a shame how journalism doesn’t report the news, but is a an arm of govt. I will not participate in propagating lies. Jeff, you are one of the main reasons I check out the paper, knowing that you might have a new column. Humorous and yet factual.

I Won A Gene Jacket

April 1st, 2012
7:43 am

I was there in Augusta in 1986 when Nickalus won his final major at the ripe old age of 46. The golfing heavens shook, the earth moved, and even casual fans knew that something especially wonderful had just happened.

And then, mediocrity set in. From April 1986 until Tiger’s first major, the sport was nothing more than a weekly chance to watch Greg Norman choke away tournaments or guys (from places we’d never visit) win tournaments only to fade into golf oblivion.

In steps Tiger; a searingly white hot flash of lightning that kept striking again and again. He was young, hip, loud, and really damn good. He didn’t choke… he made you choke. The simple fact is, whenever Tiger shows up… history is likely to be made. There was a time when he won 45% of the tournaments in which he played. He won four consecutive majors. Based on his play two weeks ago, it could very well happen all over again. He is the golfing event of this generation.

If icons are to be judged by their extracurricular life, okay. But, in fairness, let’s open the books on everyone. I have yet to find anyone willing to measure a Mantle or a Sinatra by the same standard as Tiger.

Perhaps the only line over which Tiger egregiously stepped is color.

Fair n Balanced

April 1st, 2012
7:46 am

As a golfer and a golf fan I have to watch Tiger. He is arguably ahead of Nicklaus at this stage in his career. But the record still shows that Jack is the best of all time because of 18 Majors. For me, I like the sanctity of golf and the fact that a good man, good husband and Dad currently owns the record as greatest. Tiger has to work on that some. But I’ll be watching. I can’t not watch and I can’t not wonder if Tiger is going to win 5 more Majors before he is done.

Neil

April 1st, 2012
8:16 am

Love to see him lose,,,, hope he never breaks a great PERSON’s record like the Bear. Please miss a 3 footer to lose the Masters…. they deserve better than Tiger,,,maybe a Rory

Lacey Underall

April 1st, 2012
8:27 am

Hope he never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever wins again! Totally JERK!