By Ben Lasky
Eagle Staff Writer
Remember a few years ago when Tiger Woods said his behavior on the golf course had to change? Well, if you haven’t heard, it hasn’t.
Woods’ underwhelming performance at last week’s Masters was overshadowed by the fact that he kicked a club and said a few bad words.
It’s time for everyone to accept that this is who Tiger is. It’s also time to accept that it’s not that big of a deal.
Tiger’s overwhelming talent and mental toughness is what made him the most dominating athlete in the world. No shot was impossible. No moment was too big.
He was, and apparently still is. intense while on the course. The highs lead to fist pumps that could get Wolf Blitzer excited, and the lows mean that the guy in the TV truck with his finger on the bleep button better be ready.
The people that are calling Woods’ actions at the Masters despicable are the same people criticizing him for not winning. They want Tiger to be pre-scandal Tiger. Well, this is pre-scandal Tiger.
But let’s not act like Woods is alone in his behavior on the course.
There used to be an annual tournament in Maryland called the Kemper Open, which I attended almost every year. I remember one occasion when I watched a player who not many people were paying attention to.
After a particularly bad shot, he slammed his club down and kicked it. I saw him speaking aggressively to himself, and while I was not close enough to hear what he was saying, my guess is it was not, “Gosh darn it. That was not a very good shot.”
Tiger is not the only one acting like this, but the magnifying glass is on him whenever he moves. It has gotten to the point where he’s not allowed to have a bad moment.
It’s not Tiger’s fault that he’s the biggest star in the sport, if not the world. He should be allowed to throw a club or curse once in a while. He’s human. Humans, even ones as talented as Woods, get frustrated.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s ever been a person who has ever played a round of golf and hasn’t dropped an f-bomb or two.
Another issue I’m having is the amount of outrage there has been surrounding Tiger’s “meltdown.” People are acting like he took his 9-iron, broke it in half and then took the sharp part of the club’s shaft and stabbed an elderly person.
This was not a meltdown. If kicking your club and cursing on the golf course represents a meltdown, then I’ve had a meltdown every time I’ve ever played.
In fact, this was tame for Woods. His former caddy Steve Williams kicked a photographer’s camera and stole a camera from a fan during the 2004 U.S. Open because they had taken pictures while Woods was in his backswing.
I understand golf is the gentleman’s game. But as we know by now, Tiger is not a gentleman.
He is a ruthless competitor. That means if he hits a series of bad shots, he’s going to be angry and he’s going to let that be known.
Woods’ actions were inappropriate. But so what? I don’t want to hear about etiquette.
Gentleman’s game or not, when a bad round costs you millions of dollars, or, in Tiger’s case, even more questions about whether you’ll ever win another major, etiquette is gone.
Like it or not, Tiger Woods is who he is, and if getting back to throwing tantrums means also getting back to the dominance he once showed, I think most golf fans will take it.