Competitive professional golf is a curious spectator sport. It’s the only one that I can think of where the fan without a genuine emotional rooting interest cheers for the favorite rather than the underdog.
Which means if there’s no guy in the hunt who grew up down the street or working in the pro shop at your country club, you tend to root for . . . Tiger Woods.
It is so odd.
Woods is certainly a hundred millionaire by now. Perhaps a billionaire if the stories are true of his early, significant investment in a Silicon Valley start up of some fellow Stanfordites. You might have heard of Google.
So why do we find ourselves rooting for him? Why do I find myself rooting for him? It is so antithetical to my liberal nature which normally favors the underdog in such circumstances. Hell, I even cheered for U of L’s arch rival Memphis State against Kansas because the Tigers had never won a title.
Understand I’m not the biggest golf fan. But, being an inveterate sports junkie, I do watch the majors. Besides last Saturday and Sunday were god awful cold and gray and there was little else to do. It wasn’t like a gorgeous springtime beckoned one out to recreate in the sublime fragrance of honeysuckle blooming.
So there I was stuck in front of the TV, Impellizzeri’s Pizza on order, wondering why in the hell I wanted Tiger to make a run? The guy is rich. The guy has the hottest wife around. He travels about in his own jet. He is without any observable engaging personality. Etc, etc.
There was Trevor Immelman, a likeably stalwart up and comer, holding steady on a blustery day in Augusta. Why not cheer him on? There was Kentuckian Steve Flesch, squarely in the hunt until back nine jitters found him bogeying his way to a sixth place finish, six strokes back. Why couldn’t I find some love for the guy from the Bluegrass?
I just don’t understand.
Tiger never fired. Even the slightest run would have caused Immelman’s sphincter to tighten. He backed up to only a three stroke victory over Mr. Woods, who finished second though he never threatened. It was far from compelling competition. Were it not the Masters, we’d have all been at the video rental store.
Of course, the post Masters buzz is about . . . Tiger. Once again he failed to come from behind in the final round. Something he’s never done in a major. My friend David brays early and often about how Woods is the greatest athlete ever.
Better than Gretzky? Jordan? Jim Thorpe? Jesse Owens?
Forgetting for a moment whether golfers are true athletes, let’s just say he needs to show me he’s more than a front runner.
The guy is good at what he does.
No, he’s great. But it is golf. Nobody trying to block him from taking a six iron. No shot blocking behemoth between him and the goal. No defenseman backchecking him at the blueline.
And he’s yet to prove to me he has the mettle to snatch victory from defeat on golf’s biggest stages.
As for Trevor Immelman, a Gary Player acolyte, and the guy with the newest green jacket in the clubhouse, only time will tell if he’s a keeper or an anecdote.