It has been brought to my attention that Tiger Woods has seldom ever gone to a sports writer in search of advice, especially one who types with two fingers and plays golf lefthanded—or did when he could play. Right there you have enough reason to suggest that I down a dollop of single-malt Scotch and drink it off—especially since the first thing I would suggest is that Eldrick rid himself of that pit bull caddie of his. But, I forge ahead.
The commissioner, Tim Finchem, has done well by Tiger. Good reason, of course, for there has been a big hole in the PGA Tour without him, whether in contention, or off the board. It was Finchem who arranged Tiger’s re-introduction to the public with that funereal press conference—without the press—at Sawgrass. It was 13 minutes of a sadly somber oration before a select audience of patrons and kin.
No questions. This is it, this is Tiger, take it or leave it. And in the long run, no wounds were healed, nor did Tiger turn the head of any critic, but forged ahead in a kind of mumbling stupor. So did the Tour, groping to fill the void.
Phil Mickelson won the Masters. An Irishman won the U.S. Open. A South African won the British Open. A German won the PGA Championship. Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship. There was, however you chose to look at it, something missing. It was Tiger. Unless you beat a field with Tiger in contention and charging, there was an emptiness in the triumph.
The rumor is circulating that he will play a “full schedule” this year, but just what is his version of a “full schedule”? Last year he played in championships in which he wasn’t the favorite for the first time as a professional. He was favored at odds of 12-1 over Thomas Bjorn in the first round of the Accenture World Match Play. Bjorn won, 1-up. If he is of a mind to do something for his country’s PGA Tour, I’d like for him to consider some of the events he has never played, tournaments that he would give a shot in the arm. Tournaments that do indeed, need him, as so many of his fellow pros have said. The Bob Hope was once one of the Tour’s celestial events. Presidents and corporate figures played in it. Nowadays, five-star Tour players dodge it, some taking off to foreign events. Now, I realize the Hope runs five days, and four of those days the pros are paired with a cast of amateurs. It’s a hassle and a bore, from one course to two or three others. Sorry, but that’s doing something for your country, so to speak.
The Heritage at Hilton Head has been a star event following the Masters. It’s hanging on only through the intervention of the state legislature. The Colonial in San Antonio has been fading, except for the year they were able to talk Anna Sorenstam into the field. And St. Jude’s, the Wyndham, the Zurich, the Traveler’s can all use a shot in the arm. Is it asking too much for Tiger, who is in the need of help, to play these tournaments that are also in need? That’s just a thought that flashes through the mind of an old warrior who grew into this game covering any kind of championship that granted him the privilege. Just think of the transfusion that Tiger Woods’ presence would give some of those that he might favor. That’s all, just a hunch, a hint that might ring Tiger’s bell. (And let him bring Stevie along, if he chooses. I was just kidding.)