It’s a complicated question because I have rooted for the guy for so long now. But with the act he put forth today during his Honda Classic news conference, I wonder if I should just forget about this guy going into the future. So I decided I would try to put it in writing and figure out what reasons are left to continue to root for the guy.
Much like many other people, I have played golf for many years. I started playing and learning about the game in my early teens, but it wasn’t until 1996, the year Tiger Woods turned pro, that I can really remember starting to follow golf closely outside of what I personally played. I vaguely remember Jack Nicklaus winning his 6th Masters and final major in 1986, but I could not tell you one single thing about my golf memories in the late 80’s and early 90’s. But fast forward to August 1996 when Tiger Woods became a professional, I can remember many of the major events that have happened in the game since. I think this was the start of my rooting for Tiger Woods just like so many others and I just wanted to see the guy win. I think he has a lot to do with why I am so passionate about golf now and why I follow it so closely to this day.
The second reason I think I root so much for Tiger Woods is the fact he is one of the few world class athletes I have been able to see play during their prime so far. I talk to my dad about seeing Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Johnny Miller play during their prime. Those golfers go along with the likes of Micky Mantle, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Muhammad Ali who my dad got to see in their primes. Since the late 1980’s, I have seen the likes of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Kobe Bryant. All these guys are world class athletes who Tiger Woods is mentioned next to when talking about the greatest ever. These are the best-of-the-best and just like my dad rooted for the people before me, I root for the best of my generation, and Tiger Woods is a part of that time.
The last main reason why I think I continue to root for Tiger Woods is the way he just seemed to not give a damn what anybody had to say or what people thought. The jerk attitude and secrecy behind the guy just made him a little more compelling. I think I found myself wanting to know more about him, but never was able to see anything from outside the golf course. What I am referring to is the way other athletes would open up their practice routines or training regime or give a small glimpse into their personal lives. Tiger Woods was so shut off to the world to everyone except for the people closest to him. This kind of secrecy just seemed to make me jump on his bandwagon just a little more.
So with the act Tiger Woods put on today during his press conference along with his typical condescending smirk when asked a simple question, I think more about why I continue to root for the guy. There was nothing about the question asked that was so far out of line. We already know he lives in his own world and plays by his rules, but if the report is true that he requested nobody ask him about the release of Hank Haney’s new book during the press conference, then he is living in a land much further away. For a guy who was on track to break every golf record in history, and now who has won nothing meaningful in almost three years, does he really think he still has the clout and say-so to tell the press what questions they can and cannot ask? But the silly thing about the whole press conference today, it’s happened numerous times over the years but when you don’t win, people will be more critical. Just go ask Lebron James.
On top of the crankiness displayed during the press conference, does he really need to throw and drop his clubs over his shoulder when he hits a bad shot? Does he really need to roll his head back in disgust each time he misses a putt? I understand he is such a competitor and wants to win at everything, but after having a camera focused on his every move for the last 15 years, you would think his reactions would be a bit more subtle. I also understand that everyone has bad days, but as a world famous athlete it seems he has never learned that anything he says will make headlines.
The bottom line is everyone is well aware his game is showing major signs of improvement, although he still can’t make any putts when needed. What we all really want to know is whether the best golfer over the last 20 years was really considering quitting golf to try and be a Navy SEAL. Was Hank Haney stretching the truth to sell a book or was there a part of you that wanted to really pursue it further? There is nothing dishonorable about it. Personally, I think it would have been a great story. But for him to treat the reporter like that today just makes people like me wonder why I should ever root for the guy again.
In the end, sometimes I don’t want to root for the guy and I tell myself it doesn’t matter what he does going forward. But the fact of the matter is he is still within reach to break the all time major championship record set by Jack Nicklaus. He is four away but those four final wins will probably be the hardest wins he will ever reach. Even harder than the first win over the last three years. I just can’t seem to get over the fact that I am more than just the casual golf fan who tunes in when Tiger Woods is playing on TV. I watch golf passionately throughout the year and Tiger Woods has been a big part of why I am like this.