November 16, 2009
Yes, we're all full of Tiger-love around these parts -- the guy's kind of good, as you might have heard -- but in the interest of full disclosure, we've got to show you every side of Mr. Woods. Like, for instance, this video from Saturday at the Australian Masters, with Tiger having a wee bit of trouble holding onto his club. Pay close attention to what happens around the 18-second mark:
See that? The fans applauding Woods? That's why he gets away with tossing clubs. (To be fair, he threw the club onto the ground, and it bounced into the crowd ... if that makes a difference.) Look, I'm a huge Woods fan, but this club-tossing garbage has to stop. The cussing doesn't bother me at all; the guy is human, and everybody gets frustrated enough to let a word or two out now and then. But the club-tossing is beneath him.
The problem is, the way that everyone perceives Tiger allows this stuff to perpetuate. It's high time that we stop taking Tiger Woods as an all-or-nothing package. You can't just excuse his on-course actions like this "because he's competitive" or "because other golfers do it" or "because they used to do it like this in the old days." The guy's got enough control to stick a ball to within inches of a cup from 200 yards out -- you're telling me he doesn't have the control to keep a club in his hand after his backswing?
And on the other side of the equation -- these tantrums don't automatically mean he's less of a golfer and less of a sportsman than Nicklaus or Palmer. He's got one flaw in his makeup, and critics seize on that to dismiss his entire career. Ridiculous. Enough with the "bad role model" nonsense. Tiger's got this one mark against him, and it's something that he can -- and should -- correct, but it's not like this is some deep, dark stain on his legacy.
The possibility that he could have brained someone with his club is a side issue, but an important one -- it would've been worldwide news before Tiger even got to his ball. (Still, if anybody could get away with clocking somebody on the head with a golf club ... ) This isn't a PR battle that Tim Finchem and the golf powers-that-be need to be fighting, not when it's within Tiger's power to control. It's okay to think Tiger's the greatest of all time and think he needs to get his temper under control.
Is it fair that we spend this much time scrutinizing his golf game? Hey, "fair" went out the window when Tiger started accepting seven-figure checks. This is part of the agreement -- all that money comes with a price. Now, granted, throwing clubs is not the worst thing he could be doing; heck, he could be throwing matches. But Tiger Woods is an icon, and this is low-rent behavior. He's got to be above it.
(Visor tip: A Walk In The Park)