Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Storybook Ending at the Masters

It was a storybook ending at the Masters today, with Phil Mickelson winning his third green jacket with his ailing wife managing to get out of bed to watch the conclusion. Sadly, that great story was buried behind the TMZ-fueled obsession with Tiger Woods for much of the weekend. ESPN dropped into the gutter in their pre-Masters coverage last week, running a countdown clock to his tee time and live coverage of him on the practice tee.

I understand Woods is the best golfer in the game. I get that.  But Woods' problems are self inflicted, then exacerbated by the people and companies he associated with.  Some abandoned him, others gave him bad advice.  Others, such as Nike, try to make a buck of it. Sadly, Stephen Colbert mocking is more applicable than twisting Earl Woods' comments about his wife.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tiger's Nike Commercial
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Truth be told, I was impressed by the way Tiger Woods shook off five months of inactivity to be in contention midway through the opening round. Like I said, he's the #1 golfer in the world for a reason.

But even without Woods in contention, this was a great tournament with great story lines. You had Fred Couples in contention at age 50.  60 year old Tom Watson on the leaderboard as well before fading over the weekend, but still finishing 18th. Yet, I'm sure we'll hear people who'll say that they turned off the Masters as Woods faded today, or wouldn't have paid attention if Woods hadn't made his comeback.

And all I can say is... WTF?

Did you turn your TV off when Colt McCoy left the BCS National Championship game with an injury?  Did you ignore the Final Four when Kansas and Kentucky were knocked out?  Of course not.  In fact, just the opposite.  The Final Four had higher ratings without the big names.

That doesn't mean Tiger Woods isn't interesting when he's playing well. Any great competitor adds drama when they in a battle. But the absence of the star doesn't lessen the competition.  Tiger Woods didn't create the Masters.  The Masters was The Masters before Woods won a green jacket, and it was The Masters before Woods was even born. It'll still be the Masters once Woods' retires.  The names in sports come and go, but the sport lives on.  Golf doesn't need Tiger Woods.

Heck, considering the shambles that Woods has made of his personal life, Woods probably needs golf more now, as it seems to be the one thing that's going right for him now, especially when you consider that he was in contention in a major without having played competitively in months.

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