Tiger Woods: Loyalty Until He Crumbles—How and Why the Public Roots Him

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2010

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - JULY 16:  Tiger Woods of the USA hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the 139th Open Championship on the Old Course, St Andrews on July 16, 2010 in St Andrews, Scotland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

After the South African, surprise winner, Louis Oosthiuzen, dunked in his final putt at this year's British Open, the PGA Tour was immediately under siege. The Open Championship held at golf's sacred sanctuary, the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, was labeled everything from "boring" to a "torture to watch."

The almost entirely identical, worldwide negative reaction to this year's major championship revealed just how schizophrenic the public's loyalty remains to Tiger Woods.

After Tiger's blistering opening round 67, TV ratings soared, highlight reels were sent across the web, and there seemed to be a palpable interest in golf's most prestigious championship.

Critics and columnists alike generated a plethora of stirring stories.

Had Tiger found his groove?

Was the new putter paying off?

Wouldn't it be an incredible story if Woods were to reassert his dominance at St. Andrews (where he won in 2000 and 2005)?

Then, as the stormy conditions and swirling, Scottish winds pummeled the Old Course and assaulted its competitors, Woods shot a disastrous second round 73.

It was like popping a balloon with a needle and watching its form totally dissipate.

Not only could Tiger not make a putt to save his life, but as the the players at the top lengthened their lead, Woods fell from grace, out of contention, and effectively out of people's hearts and minds.

Whether it was on an iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, or lap-top, checking the British Open scores was no longer a priority, just as waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the majority of the round was no longer worth it.

Woods was no longer a factor, so why watch, why listen, why participate at all?

As Woods continues to try to remedy the array of conflicts damaging his personal life, he also is in the midst of recovering his once dominant golf game. But since his return to competitive golf, Tiger has gone seven tournaments without a victory, which feels like an anomaly considering he hasn't done that since 1998.

All it took was some gusting winds, scattered showers, and arduous golf course conditions to not only crumble the hopes of Tiger Woods, but also those of the public.

The loyalty of golf fans to the world's still-No. 1 ranked player was unveiled as nothing but a facade.

But why did people root for him at all in the beginning of the event?

Was it because he was an American at an overseas tournament?

Do people legitimately want to see a resurgence in his game?

Or, is Tiger Woods the one and only face of professional golf?


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.