Tiger is the needle

By Jason SobelAugust 5, 2011, 10:43 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Yeah, I know. I get it. You’ve only read the headline and glimpsed the above photo of Tiger Woods and you’re already ticked off.

I know exactly why, too.

The guy shot a 1-over 71 on Friday that left him in the middle of the pack at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It was hardly the best score of the day and far from the worst. The truth is, it was remarkably unremarkable. Perhaps the most accurate description would be that of all his career rounds, this was one of ‘em.

And yet, here we are. I’m writing about him; you’re reading about him. Until, of course, you write me about him, since this topic often prompts a batch of incensed reader emails and end-of-column comments, each echoing some form of the following:


My response has remained the same for years – from Woods’ on-course dominance to his personal scandal to his current state of uncertainty. It’s the reason why television ratings spike when he’s in the field, why his galleries swell to much larger than those of the leaders at any given event.

Simply put, it’s the law of supply and demand.

You demand more Tiger. We supply it.

All of which conjures a quixotic conundrum. If “you” are complaining about the overanalyzation and constant coverage of Woods, then how can “you” also be clamoring for further content on him?

The explanation is that unlike all other professional golfers, everyone has an opinion on Woods. As my colleague John Hawkins recently said, “He doesn’t move the needle. He is the needle.”

Undoubtedly, some golf fans love Woods, while others love to hate him. What’s been interesting so far this week, though, is that the balance between the two is shifting back to the former more so than at any time since his extramarital affairs were revealed to the worldwide public.

For years, the hypothetical question, “What would be the state of golf without Tiger?” was asked, but only recently has it been answered. In the past year-and-a-half, the game has become a parity party, with first-time major champions taking each of the past half-dozen titles and the world’s No. 1 ranking becoming a revolving door for terrifically consistent players who aren’t consistently terrific.

Woods himself has descended from the top spot to 28th, a downward spiral rooted in a cornucopia of personal, emotional, spiritual, physical and technical issues. He hasn’t won anywhere in 21 months and isn’t currently qualified to advance to the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Judging by the litmus test provided over the first two rounds at Firestone Country Club, while it can be debated how much the game actually needs Woods, it’s undeniable that those who are fans of the game clearly want him to return to his previous stature.

On Thursday, as he awaited his first swing in a competitive environment since withdrawing from The Players three months ago due to multiple leg injuries, it felt like Woods had the entire population of Akron surrounding the tee box, cheering him in unison.

We’ve now reached a point where the masses have witnessed the future – and they’d rather blast back to the past. Individual sports are dependent on their superstars and while the PGA Tour won’t cease to exist should Woods never revert to form, the degree of its short-term prosperity may hinge on his impending success.

There’s a reason why the Bridgestone has been the year’s most anticipated non-major tournament – and maybe just as anticipated in some circles, if not more so, than a few of those majors. Woods has transformed from the game’s greatest player to its greatest enigma, which provides intrigue in itself, but whereas fans once gathered to watch his exploits in open-mouthed awe and at times last year simply wanted to witness the circus sideshow, the current sense is that on-course spectators and at-home viewers are hoping for a return to prior dominance, because, well, it beats what we’ve ascertained as the alternative.

For his part, Woods fails to acknowledge why or how he continues to draw the most supporters, even when he isn’t winning tournaments or – like on Friday – he’s well behind the leaders.

“I think it's great they just came out, period,” he maintained. “It's great to have them come out and support the event. This is a big event and whether they're following me or someone else, it's great to have them out here.”

That’s not to say that there is unilateral patronage toward Tiger, but there is universal interest in his adventure. All of which brings us back to the main theme of this column. Why does so much golf coverage revolve around Woods? Because for better or worse on his scorecard, you care about his progression and you’re piqued as to what the remainder of his career will entail. 

If you’re still skeptical, I have one last bit of proof: Hey, you not only clicked the link to this Tiger Woods-related story, you just read it all the way to the end. Case closed.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.