Mainstream thinking does reflect a tendency, but it does not tell you what’s actually right.
Before this year’s Player's Championship, Tiger Woods was one of the favorites among the bookmakers and the press (even though it was clear he was not near competitive form), and after the US Open, great parts of the press and the public has given up on him (even though it is clear, that no one has any idea about in what shape he will be back).
Bleeding and left to die in one of the many alleys of the golf world, Woods is now a target for all those claims that no one dared to articulate one year or six months ago.
“This guy is a goner. Let’s go with the Irish kid who has won one major … And let’s say he’s good for at least 10 majors … Start the trend!”
Vintage mainstream thinking right there. No nuances. No room for facts. No room for reflecting.
While it’s true that the future of young Rory McIlroy has never been brighter, and the last few years has been the darkest ever for Woods, the careers of both these gentlemen are still in flux.
Just as tiresome it has been to listen to the pro-Tiger chants for the last 14 years, it’s just as upsetting to listen to the opinions of the last 14 days.
Tiger is far from done. And McIlroy is far from the next Emperor in golf. I have never joined the group that thought it was a given Tiger would beat Nicklaus’ number of major victories – simply because there is a reason Jack reached 18 majors and not 28. And simply because the field gets better while Tiger gets older.
Rory will never be Tiger, but he will be great, and he’s living proof – together with a handful of other players – that golf is more than Woods.
So why can’t we relate to that? Why is it so hard for us to enjoy the present without predicting the future, and make the same mistake we made when Tiger entered the scene and we left no space to others?
Golf has already proven it can survive comfortably without Woods, even though everybody said it was impossible. A scary part of those following Tiger on TV are not golfers anyway. I know, viewers sell commercials and commercials are money, but golf economy is more than that.
In reality, how many real golf fans is among the people joining and leaving when Tiger is on/off course? How about the fact that while Tiger has been collecting major trophies, the US has lost well over three million golfers in almost the same time span?
Fewer golf courses have been built, more has closed, and golfers have spent less money.
However, with or without Tiger, the numbers of the American golf is believed to turn around in the years to come. So the game is safe with or without Tiger.
Not because of Tiger, and not thanks to the greedy who have milked the Woods Era for all it’s worth, but thanks to the game itself and the true golf fans.
Do we need to create a new Tiger to think we keep the numbers good? Could it be we could enjoy the fact that several players could dominate at the same time and both people and the press could actually process that fact?
It would not surprise me if McIlroy would win at Royal St George’s and grab another major, and it would not surprise me if Tiger took another major next year.
Heck, who knows, Colin Montgomerie could still qualify for the Open and win it next month. It’s golf and anything could happen.
So why don’t we let it, and reflect afterwards, without always have to predict to the extremes. God knows, we have been lousy at it so far.