Posts Tagged ‘tom watson’

The Case for Tiger Woods; Or, We’re Disagreeing with Joe Posnanski?!?!

“The greatest struggle an athlete undergoes is the battle for our memories. It’s gradual. It begins before you’re aware that it’s begun, and it ends with a terrible fall from grace. It really is a battle to the death.”

–William Goldman

It hasn’t been a very good year for Tiger Woods.

Perhaps you’ve heard, but within the last 12 calendar months, Woods lost a major he led after 54 holes for the first time in 15 tries, crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Orlando home, had a deep history of infidelity and sexual philandering thrust into the public eye, issued multiple forced and awkward apologies, and attended sex rehab. And in the time since sex rehab, Woods has not won a single golf tournament.

This has led NPI-favorite Joe Posnanski to openly wonder why everyone still believes in Tiger Woods, why he was still the favorite to win the PGA Championship even though he’s coming off the worst performance of his career, why when he put a poll on his website, only 3% of respondents said Woods would “definitely not” break Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18 grand slams (Woods has 14) when these days he looks “like everybody else.”

It has also led me, for pretty much the first time ever, to disagree with Joe Posnanski.

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Elementary, My Dear: Did Golf Have the Perfect Finish Sunday?

He plays golf. Your grandfather. Your grandpappy. Golf. A golf man. Is my tone communicating the contempt? Billiards on a big table, Jim. A bodiless game of spasmodic flailing and flying sod. A quote unquote sport.

—Infinite Jest

The criticisms of golf are many: It is boring, it is prejudiced, it is unfashionable. Most perniciously, it is not a sport.

I am not here to defend golf as sport; I’m more than willing to relinquish that fight, so long as you do the same with regard to bowling, track, swimming, cross country, and soccer, among others.

But golf’s always tenuous hold on sporthood survived one of its strongest challenges yet Sunday, when a seven-foot putt off the flatstick of 59-year-old Tom Watson sputtered off line and fell short of its target on Turnberry’s 72nd hole. In the process, the game* of golf had its cake and ate it, too: On a weekend absent of Tiger Woods—for the second consecutive year at the Open—Watson’s astonishing contention was the only major storyline—one that attracted far more viewers than a leaderboard of Lee Westwood, Mathew Goggin, and Stewart Cink ever could. At the same time, the fact that the 59-year-old Watson didn’t win restored, for the moment, golf’s lingering claim to sporthood.

*Note the noun.

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