As Tiger Woods prepares to play in Quail Hollow this week, the first non-major since his troubles began, we're finally reaching a natural closing point to this saga. So let's take a look at some of the major questions that still surround Tiger and the golf world. Today: How ready is a non-Augusta tournament for Hurricane Tiger?
When Tiger Woods announced his return to golf would come at Augusta, it didn't take long to figure out why. Augusta National is the closest golf equivalent to a bank vault, with nobody getting in without the say-so of The Powers That Be. The patrons could be counted on to be respectful, and the dreaded tabloid media would be kept outside the gates (or, as it turned out, in the sky).
But now Tiger travels to North Carolina for the Quail Hollow, and it's a far less secure environment. This is the kind of tournament where you can walk up and grab a ticket on the day of the event; you don't have to be a wealthy scion of old Augusta royalty. Which means, in turn, that you'll have a larger lout population likely. It's only a matter of time before somebody tries to make himself Internet-famous by shouting something on a Tiger Woods drive. (My guess? It'll be the goofball "stunt boy" of some local morning-zoo radio show.)
Tiger also won't find guaranteed solace in the media room any longer. Certainly, his handlers can decide who to call on and who to avoid, but soon enough, somebody's going to sneak through and ask him something ridiculous and embarrassing. Sure, it might mean they're banned from the local tournament, or possibly even the whole PGA Tour, but there are plenty of outlets still interested in Tiger who'll shrug off a PGA ban.
Still, it'd almost be good if something like that happened. Everybody's waiting for it; everybody expects it. Get it out there, get it over with, and torture the offender on a Golf Channel post-round special. No, wait! Don't do that! Or, at least, don't televise it!
Bottom line, the best thing Tiger could do is get right back on the golf course and demonstrate he's gone back to normalcy. It'll make for some nervous moments for tournament organizers, but Tiger is already showing them some respect by committing earlier than he usually does. Sooner that everybody gets their hack "get in the hole!" jokes out of their system, sooner we'll all be able to get back to watching Tiger play some freakin' golf.
(By the way, that cartoon may be good for a mild laugh, but if you own an iPhone, you're not gonna see it. Find out why at Deadspin, who gets the visor tip for the day.)
Upcoming "Wrapping Up Tiger" posts:
• Today: How ready is a non-Augusta tournament to host Tiger Woods?
• Tuesday: How can Tiger Woods continue to repair his image?
• Wednesday: How will the Tiger Woods story change the world of golf?
• Thursday: What did everybody learn from the Tiger Woods saga?
• Friday: What will be the long-term effects of Tiger's story?