by Lenn Robbins, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
The man who was once the greatest golfer on Earth now is just the most egotistical.
Tiger Woods couldn’t show a modicum of class by waiting until defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama held his pre-tournament press conference, one of the last rites of adulation for the wearer of the green jacket.
Heck, he couldn’t even wait for the conclusion of the Final Four.
No, Tiger had to grip the Georgia sun and rotate it just a few inches so it shone on him. He Tweeted Sunday that he might, or might not, play in The Masters. So now we’re on Tiger Watch. Why?
It would be his first major since nearly killing himself – and possibly others – in a car crash in February of 2021. He hasn’t won a tourney since 2019.
Yet Woods took to social media to remind everyone he remains one of the most polarizing and popular figures in sports.
“I will be heading to Augusta today to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete. Congratulations to 16-year-old Anna Davis on an amazing win and good luck to all the kids.”
By Tuesday he was saying that he plans to play and that he can win The Masters. Good grief.
If Woods didn’t believe the sun revolved around him, he would have waited until Wednesday. Then he would have first congratulated Davis, the unknown 16-year-old who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Sunday. He would have wished all the kids good luck.
Instead we have been caught up in Tigermania.
He’s never apologized for driving more than 45 miles per hour over the speed limit, hitting the median and careening into a ditch. One shudders to imagine what might have happened if other cars were on the road.
And it wasn’t the first time Woods didn’t have nearly control of the steering wheel as he does of his putter.
There was the 2009 crash when he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a neighbor’s tree. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash the window and pull Tiger from the car. EMS found him snoring.
There was the DUI in 2017 when police found him passed out behind the wheel of his Mercedes Benz. Tests showed he had traces of Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC in his system according to publicized reports. Amazing CVS isn’t sponsoring the guy.
Yet Tiger is afforded the Alex Rodriguez treatment: He screws up, doesn’t apologize, yet remains a darling.
The thing is, golf doesn’t need Tiger, despite his 15 Majors. He was the beautiful bridge, like the three that grace Augusta National, from the days of white golfers, many of whom should have kept their shirts on at the beach, to the fit, fierce, long-driving athletes we see today.
Golf has truly intriguing players. Brooks Koepka is fiery lad, who when not ready for his close-up, is prone to relieving an obnoxious fan of his cellphone.
Bryson DeChambeau transformed himself from a slot receiver to a linebacker, all without the use of steroids, according to him. Dustin Johnson does a remarkable job of focusing on his golf game despite wife Paulina constantly lighting up social media with ridiculously sexy photos.
So why Tiger? Why care?
He’s not going to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins; not with enough screws and rods in his leg to open an Ace Hardware.
Enough of Tiger. The Masters takes center stage Tuesday, the day after Kansas was crowned the new NCAA championship. It is, to steal the phrase, a tradition unlike any other.
No need to hype it with a golfer who should never go anywhere without a chauffeur. No need to focus on him when there’s a celebration in Lawrence and Opening Day is a blooming azalea away.