Eldrick or Tiger: On Woods’ Latest Drama at Doral

Posted: March 12, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , ,

Over a year ago I made some phony wager with the Editor-In-Chief that Roger Federer would win a major before Eldrick Tont Woods.  I never meant to disrespect one of the most prolific winners and dominant golfers in history but I did suggest that invincibility is not a trait, but a cloak.  In a sport where intimidation can only go so far, where the players around you are not directly impacted by what you do before, the end game is harder because your best can be overshadowed by another.  In tennis, your play directly impacts the opponent; you can impose your will and change the type of game needed to win.  What I imagined but in no way expected was Tiger to lose his cloak and become a human.  In effect Tiger would become Eldrick.  In reality the conversation shifted from breaking records, to questions of winning PGA sanctioned tournaments, to quitting.  Betting against the best should not be confused with disrespecting a legend.

Tiger entered the final day after back to back low rounds, 67 on Friday and 68 on Saturday.  Tiger would not exit on Sunday.  After his tee shot on twelve, Tiger could not deal with the progressively worse pain in his Achilles and withdrew.  Done.  Eldrick on the cart and headed home.  I certain take no exception to him withdrawing from this event, a major, or anything he wants due to injury.  Tiger’s track record is impeccable playing and winning through pain to the delight of fans, NBC, and fellow golfers looking for notoriety and a larger payday.  Eldrick, however, does not have a track record to speak of, let alone hang a red polo on.  ELDRICK’ S LAST PGA WIN WAS THE BMW CHAMPIONSHIP, SEPTEMBER 2009!   Not good enough by any standards but the disrespect is shocking.  People arguing Eldrick quit need to totally reevaluate the situation and generally the potential damage to be done for playing through pain.  Bob Harig, a writer I genuinely like, wrote a piece praising Rory McIlroy’s third place finish by juxtaposing Caroline Wozniacki’s boo with the legend.  Suggesting Eldrick quit or made a decision he would not make in a major is boneheaded.  You do things differently when the stakes change.  (It’s why I will be defending multiple bracket use during March Madness.)

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It seemed overly cautious to me. I don’t like to sound cynical, but I doubt seriously had he been in contention he would have pulled out of the tournament. Perhaps the pain explains his 2-over round when he quit. No one wants him to carelessly exacerbate an injury, but he owes it to the fans and the sponsors to try to complete the tournament.

Hey Farrell, if the man wants to be able to win a tournament again let alone a Major it probably is best to cut loses. But that is just me.

The larger question is whether Tiger is done and if we will be stuck with Eldrick, the maddeningly inconsistent rating machine inseparable from his alter ego but never good enough.  I cannot say if Eldrick is here to stay but Tiger is not close to reappearing.  The standard for Tiger/Eldrick is always wins: frequency and quality.  While both Federer and Woods have the same number of major victories since our bet, the former continues to rise from his annual death.  The latter, in my opinion, does not care or feel the external pressure.  His game is the problem and that more than anything else scares me.  I want Tiger to be back and to challenge the old guard, restoring the red and black to dominance.  This premature exit from Doral represents acute attention to the years of pushing himself for wins and knowing his limits.  Eldrick should not be disrespected for not being Tiger but the 23rd ranked golfer needs to retool his game to avoid humanity for good.

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Comments
  1. Ron Celano says:

    Oh, I believe Tiger did the right thing by pulling out of Doral. It is just that I cant’ feel sorry for him anymore.

  2. Ron: I think that is an understandable position and I am on-board with that. Tiger never did do a great job of being humble and it catches up.

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