Archive for Saturday, April 3, 2010

Woods hurt himself, not the game

April 3, 2010

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The azaleas will be in bloom as usual, because there are people who make sure of it at Augusta National. As a bonus this year, Jack and Arnie will reunite on the first tee.

Golf will be played as usual, and Jim Nantz will describe it all in reverential tones. By early evening next Sunday, someone will be wearing a green jacket.

The Masters will survive the sideshow born of the sordid tales of Tiger Woods, and that’s only fitting.

Because while Woods has shamed himself plenty, he has done nothing to shame the game of golf.

Remember that when the circus begins at Augusta National on Monday, and Woods steps into the cross hairs of the once tepid golf media. Remember it, too, when he steps onto the first tee Thursday to hit a drive that will formally announce his return to golf.

Yes, he flaunted society’s rules of engagement with his bevy of mistresses. He did a terrible thing to his wife and, because of that, a lot of people will never again regard him the same way.

But as the golf season begins anew in Georgia, life also begins anew for Woods. He’ll be back on familiar ground, with a familiar goal replacing some new ones he may have learned in therapy.

And, after four long months spent judging Woods for what he did away from the golf course, maybe it’s time to start judging him again for what he does on it.

The game deserves it. So, in a way, does Woods, whose remarkable run over the last 14 years changed the very way the game is played.

I’ve been among those who have taken Woods to task — and quite regularly — for the way he has handled this whole mess. I find it irritating that he still tries to control the message and portrays himself as a noble figure who somehow went astray around the same time he stopped meditating.

The details of some of his escapades — if true — are even more disturbing. I don’t know how anyone can look at the infamous Woods glare now without either laughing or feeling queasy.

But this isn’t about morality, or his startling lack of it. We’ve had plenty of time to digest and debate what Woods did and why.

This is about golf. And, really, that’s how it should be as the game returns to one of its most revered places with a story line the late Bobby Jones could never have imagined when he built it.

Though some might argue that his transgressions did, indeed, hurt golf, what they really did was hurt Woods. The game survived without its greatest player because the game has always been about more than just one person.

Someday Woods will be replaced by the next phenom, just as Jones and Palmer and Nicklaus were before him. When that day comes, it will be time to take stock of his career and measure him against the greats of the past.

Those measurements, though, should be based solely on what he did on the golf course. There’s no grading curve where Woods loses greatness points because he couldn’t stop chasing women.

So go ahead and applaud Woods for the golfer he is. Or go ahead and turn away in disgust.

But remember this:

There’s Tiger Woods the golfer and Tiger Woods the person.

One still has some redeeming qualities.

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JorieAngel 5 years ago

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