Not the same without Tiger - 04/10/14
The Masters wont be the same without Tiger Woods.
Heres why no golf tournament is the same without Tiger, especially a major: we all know his story. How many people can tell you Adam Scotts story? He won the Masters last year. And how bout Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman or Zach Johnsons story? They are the Masters winners since 2007. Maybe a few people can talk a little bit about Bubba or Phil, but only in a superficial way. But almost everybody knows Tigers father brought him up playing golf " he was even on TV at the age of two -- and he took the world by storm and won his first Masters going away and was on track to win more tournaments than any golfer in history. And we know he had the golf world by the tail and said the only meaningful goal to him was to beat Jack Nicklaus record of 18 majors, which he was on track to pass while still relatively young. So every time he teed it up, we know the narrative. Will he win another major? Will he break Nicklaus record?
Then something went wrong. His father died, taking away a little of the magic in his magical life. He started battling injuries -- although his bum knee helped turn his 2008 U.S. Open victory over Rocco Mediate into one of the greatest golf tournament finishes in history. And there was the mysterious car crash outside his luxurious Florida home which preceded a messy cheating scandal and divorce from his picture perfect wife.
What gained Tiger fame was his work ethic and his talent, and of the overwhelming success from the combination of the two. As a mortal golfer, as most of us are, how could you not admire that? But along the way his personality rubbed some people wrong. While he was leaving his competitors in the dust, he didnt really appear appreciate that he had it all, including the publics adoration. He dumped his swing coach, and he dumped his caddie. And he didnt seem to appreciate winning non-major PGA tournaments -- he treated his wins like a run along the beach for a tune up for a marathon. The only thing that mattered to him was winning majors: The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA. We didnt make that up " he said it himself. Winning more majors than anybody in history was the only thing that mattered to him professionally. All of this added to the narrative.
Then his injuries added up. And now hes missing a major because of surgery on his back. Will he come back from his injuries? Will he fade into the pack like just another gifted but not superhuman golfer?
This will all be part of the narrative, but not this year at the Masters. And whoever wins the tournament, in the back of his mind, will have to feel at least a little bit like the Houston Rockets when they won NBA championships while Michael Jordan was playing baseball.
Will Tiger ever be Tiger again? That developing plot will make every tournament hes in just a little more interesting. Okay, a lot more.