Tiger Woods: Professional Golf Needs Woods to Reclaim His Throne More Than Ever
Tiger Woods Is Good For Golf, No Matter What
Last week, World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins indirectly criticized Tiger Woods.
Speaking about the greatness of Jack Nicklaus, Wadkins said the following:
"Everybody [Nicklaus] beat were Hall of Famers...The best tournaments you talk about with Tiger were a playoff with Rocco Mediate and Bob May. Lee beat Nicklaus in a U.S. Open 18-hole playoff. The quality of people he's beaten compared to Jack beat, there's no comparison."
Wadkins may have won a pair a major and a handful of high-profile events, but his statement has no bearing on the greatness of Woods. (And for the record, there is plenty of "comparison" between Woods and Nicklaus: for all his achievements, the Golden Bear never won a US Open by 15 strokes, or a Green Jacket by 12 strokes.
Yes, it's true that Tiger never had a Sunday major championship head-to-head showdown with one of the game's top players, a Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, or whomever else. But you can't blame Woods for that.
But more to the point, the biggest attraction about Woods is his utter dominance and how he was/is capable of wiping the floor with the rest of the field. Captivating, palpable drama doesn't necessarily have to be in the form of a nail-biting finish: watching a play chase an all-time low score or string together five straight birdies is just as thrilling.
That's what we need from Tiger again. The final three majors of the 2010 season saw unheralded winners limp to victory: The field fell all over each other at Pebble Beach. At the British Open, a no-name won in a pretty boring event. And at the PGA, a controversial ruling against Dustin Johnson was a bigger story than Martin Kaymer's victory.
Of course the Tour can "survive" without Woods: Mickelson is a compelling force and there are a handful of quality young players who make the majors exciting.
But watching the best play their best is what the game needs right now: not at each major, or on each Tour stop. Just once in a while.
Otherwise golf can have dozens of thrilling finishes--with or without Tiger--that remind the old-timers of Nicklaus vs. Watson at Turnberry in 1977 or Nicklaus vs. Trevino at Merion in 1971. Meanwhile, the game will continue to drift away from the mainstream, the spot it reached roughly a decade ago when Tiger Woods was the most dominant, important, and recognized athlete in the world.
For more on the PGA, see Tiger Woods: Why His Final Round 66 at Doral Means Nothing
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