Arnold Palmer knew fame and fortune would be Tiger Woods' biggest obstacle on his way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time.
Way back in 1997, Woods won his first Masters at age 21.
Palmer was curt with the emerging superstar when he started complaining about the responsibilities associated with becoming famous.
"You're right, normal 21-year-olds don't have $50 million in the bank. If you want to be normal, give the money back."
Palmer forewarned all of us that
Now a billion dollar athlete, Eldrick Tont Woods is feeling more pressure from fame then Bobby Jones felt trying to win the Grand Slam back in 1930.
By the way "Tont," Tiger's middle name, is Swedish for "idiot."
Bobby Jones in the 2004 feature film about his life Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius declined when propositioned by a bold and beautiful flapper girl staying at his hotel.
Maybe that is what made him a genius?
If Tiger's fame led to his shame, maybe it's time for him to get back on the golf course to remind us all about the source of his greatness.
Though a six-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, he chose not to play in this week's SBS Championship—the tournament to determine the "Champion of Champions."
Neither is Phil Mickelson, a four time winner in 2009, or Henrik Stenson, the reigning Players champion.
Those three players accounted for 11 of the 46 tournaments played last year.
With Steve Stricker winning three times and five other golfers (Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson, Brian Gay, Kenny Perry, Y.E. Yang) winning twice on tour, that leaves only 28 golfers in the field competing to be the "Champion of Champions."
Interestingly, Tiger won this tournament following his emergence on tour in the fall of 1996 on his way to the historic Masters victory.
Look at how clear cut of a national champion the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) produces, with Alabama defeating Texas in a battle of unbeaten teams last night.
Why isn't golf that simple?
Golf is different.
Golf has two vastly different formats—match and medal play.
Unlike football, baseball, and basketball, in the game of golf multiple entities can compete in the same medal-play competition.
Field size varies with each event throughout the season. The criteria utilized to select who can compete also changes with each tournament organization and corporate sponsor.
Multiple systems are used to seed and rank players in golf—Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), money earnings, and FedExCup points.
One world with many tours makes a season-ending head-to-head playoff system that other sports enjoy even that much more unlikely.
If the FedExCup Champion is the "Champion of Champions" for the year, why have this format the first week of the season?
So with Tiger and Phil not competing, what is the purpose of the SBS Championship, which is being contested two months after the end of the golf season here in the U.S.?
Another perk for winning on the PGA Tour?
A nice vacation for the wife and kids, along with a guaranteed paycheck for playing?
Let's see—a field of 28, yesterday's first round stroke average of 70, four rounds, and a purse of $5.6 million.
I did the math—that's $830.78 per stroke played, or $232,143 per player, on average.
Not a bad gig in a pretty nice location!
My point being, wouldn't you want to play in a tournament like that?
Tiger? Phil? Henrik?
The other point being, I miss Tiger Woods.
I miss him not only on the golf course, but I miss his smile off the golf course.
Can't Tiger come out to play anymore?
Will he come back for the Masters, the most secure of all golfing events?
Tiger's return at Augusta National would dwarf the intensity of the 2003 Martha Burk protest.
Remember Sergio Garcia's "milking" hands as he gripped the club back in 2002 at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black?
Will Tiger's return be marred by unruly interruptions of play by outspoken members of the gallery?
Buy a ticket, ridicule Tiger? Maybe get interviewed by the media?
Let's hope not, for the sake of the game of golf.
Jones dealt with unwanted intrusion in 1930. Woods can do the same in 2010.
Time heals all wounds, unless of course one dies, then it doesn't matter.
Let's hope Tiger sticks with the game of golf, and doesn't become a reclusive lost soul.
We now know fame and fortune is his biggest obstacle to becoming the greatest golfer of all time.
Another pretty good golfer, a legend in his own time, predicted it.
It's too late for Tiger to be normal.
The question is, will he be able to inspire us again?
It's all up to Tiger
Unfortunately, for the last two months his golf ball has been in his pocket and not on his tee.
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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