August 17, 2009

I Became Un-Tiger Loyal Yesterday

I started my golfing career as a child shortly before Tiger Woods started his professional one. But he is what really got me into the game, and I have always been a loyal fan. I'm more than ok rooting for the Goliaths. Michael Jordan and Roger Federer round out my favorites in my other top sports. Greatness inspires me. But, something happened yesterday, something that had been brewing for a little while now. Earlier this year, after Tom Watson almost won the 2009 British Open (he came in second) at the ripe age of 59 (unheard of in this sport), in the video montage that followed the tournament, for the first time I can remember, an announcer took a crack at Tiger. He commented on how "Watson reminded us that this is a gentleman's game" while showing footage of Tiger throwing out F-bombs and slamming his driver on the ground. Tiger had surpassed the point of reproach in my mind, and I no longer faulted him for anything. But that montage woke me up to the fact that Tiger's a bit of a jerk. Of course, I can't imagine how tough it's got to be for him. He is expected to dominate every tournament he plays. He can't do anything but win. And that has to take a lot of the fun out of the sport. But, yesterday, as Y.E. Yang, the first Asian player to ever win a major lined up his putt on 18, I was rooting for him. Because the hole before, when the nerves got to him and he left a putt well short of the hole, he laughed a little. And when Tiger missed his own putt a moment later, he lifted his sleeve over his mouth, and cussed up a storm. I am still inspired by greatness. But for a while, I forgot what greatness really was.