Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tiger Woods: The G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Times) Revisited

I previously wrote an article on Tiger Woods that I have updated and re-released in response to Rick Reilly's recent article in Sports Illustrated. Below is that article with updates:

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods is the greatest golfer of all time and you, yes YOU, don't like it!

Folks, you are really missing something special, something historical. Golfings Haley's Comet is streaking by, never to be witnessed again. A living, active legend, an icon is within our midst. However, you can't see the forest for the trees. You're consumed with bitterness, pettiness and may I say a jealousy that clouds your vision like cataracts. Tiger Woods is the Michael Jordan of golf. Everyone has prospered in the game because of him. The Game of Golf has prospered because of him. He has transcended the sport while leaving the player's around him with better opportunities, endorsements and livelihoods. He has raised the talent level in golf by demanding and expecting excellence to beat and compete with him.

Is he without fault? Absolutely not. No man is. He has had transgressions for which he has been punished publicly, privately and in the media for. He has paid dearly monetarily with lost endorsement. He has had injuries and battled back, self-exiles, swing changes, coaching changes etc. Most of the latter are his choices in pursuit of goals he has set for himself within the game he loves. In his quest to be the best in arguably the most individually demanding and unforgiving sport known to man. Yet you still don't appreciate his greatness?

Tiger changed the game! The great one's always do. They made the basketball lane wider because of Wilt Chamberlain, they outlawed dunking because of Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's) dominance. Because of Tiger they tore up golf courses and made them longer to "Tiger Proof' them. Woods so decimated the venerable Augusta National in 1997 and 2001 that by the next year they added yardage to half the holes and in subsequent years they grew roughs higher, added trees, moved back tees and narrowed fairways.

Tiger Woods also competes against the best golfer's in the world. Not taking anything away from Jack, Arnie and Sam etc. but Woods competition was not selling cars or insurance in the off-season during the majority of his career. Now there is not even much of an offseason. Tiger's competition practices year round and their only pursuit in life is winning and the hopes of one day dethroning the king if not for only a few weeks or months at a time. Understand, Mr. Woods has been ranked #1 in the world a cumulative 678 weeks and counting. The next closest player (Greg Norman) not Jack, has recorded no more then 331 weeks and he's now playing on the Senior Tour somewhere.

What else is it that Tiger must do? My guess is he will reach and surpass 18 Major Championships in the 1/3 of his career he has left. I know you don't want him to surpass Jack Nicklaus but he will. It's just a matter of when? He has already surpassed everyone, Jack included, in PGA tour wins (79) with the exception of Sam Snead (82), and Snead is being reeled in as we speak. By the way, Tiger has only played in 312 events to Snead's 553 and Nicklaus's 594. Ah yes, but you hold out hope. You continue to look for the next great thing in golf to knock Woods off his throne. Westwood, Kaymer, Donald and McIIroy have all come and gone with a combined 15 career wins including 2 Majors. I'll even throw in Mickelson's 41 career wins with 4 Major's and that still only raises cumulative total to 56 PGA wins and 6 Majors. Still considerably short of Tiger's totals.

But you continue to sit there brooding. The only thing left for you to do is break down driving, fairway, greens hit percentages and various other laughable statistics to attack Tiger with. You will say he hasn't won a Major since 2008. It's gotten to the point now that even PGA tour wins are not good enough for him (supposedley because Woods himself said that all that mattered were Majors.) So of course now only Major's count in order for you to legitimize his place in history because you said so, right?

Analysts and former player's such as Nick Faldo and Brandel Chamblee have made embarrassing spectacles of themselves criticizing Tiger for "rule infractions" that to most were obviously unintentional. That the Master's rules committee enforced a two-stroke penalty on Woods as provided by their interpretation of the rules was just not enough. Faldo and Chamblee could barely hold their contempt and called for Woods to be disqualified or for him to DQ himself. What ensued were hours of unjustified character assassination against Woods. Through it all Tiger took the high road and never struck back. To me Woods showed more character during this fiasco then both analysts together. After a year were he admittedly did not play up to expectations he still managed to win 5 tournaments and garner the Player Of The Year Award.

Now Tiger is down with a back injury that has stoked the doubter's fires once again. The injury will keep him from the Master's. I'm betting he will successfully rehabilatate his injury and be winning tournaments by year's end. Do you want to bet against him? I didn't think so.

Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods. He is not Jack Nicklaus nor does he want to be. He's just trying to be the best Tiger he can be now. Yes, that fire inside of him, that desire is grinding, taxing, exhausting but I don't think Woods would want it any other way.

You need to smell the roses while the garden is in bloom. Revel in this once in a lifetime experience. Many did not appreciate MJ at the height of his talents either because they were bitter rivals or opposing team's fans. However despite the greats before him he is universally recognized as basketball's G.O.A.T. When I reach my golden years I am going to have fond memories and stories of Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer that ever lived. What will you have? I don't know. You're still looking for the next great thing. That thing is already here and his name is Eldrick "Tiger" Woods (The G.O.A.T.) The Greatest Of All Times!

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