Beyond Bay Hill, a battle was being fought by NBC and CBS. By Tiger and LeBron. Both born on December 30, that day apparently when the moon, stars, tides and winds align, and the glorious gods determine who shall receive the gift of sublime greatness.
NBC had Tiger, and network sports boss Dick Ebersol was going to maximize its asset after under-delivering to sponsors with Y.E. Yang and Geoff Ogilvy, fine players both but hardly meter movers. Ebersol would gamble against darkness, let Tiger run to 7:30 p.m. ET and run over its competition, chiefly 60 Minutes.
With an assist from OHair, slow as dial-up internet access, 7:30 leaked to 8:00; though, had they rolled out the stadium lights and gone to 11 no one would have carped. Tiger was back, with all his bulging muscles and bad lies and big putts.
A small party gathered to watch at a friends house, the North Carolina/Oklahoma game getting only the quick click back during commercial breaks from the golf.
Tiger looks as ripped as ever, I think.
How olds this OHair?
I think hes 26.
Zach Johnson looks like Joaquin Phoenix.
Did you see that guy on Letterman?
Yeah, he looked like the Unabomber.
Does he make this?
Makes it dead center.
There were golfers and non-golfers, men and women and kids, and everyone was glued. Tiger was at last and again in Americas living room beating OHair and beating the sun to an inevitable conclusion. His movies all end the same way, dont they?
Tiger made the putt at a few minutes before 8 oclock. Hed delivered the audience to the doorstep of prime time.
High-fives were exchanged.
He never, ever misses that putt.
He had to make a deal with the devil somewhere in his life.
At that point, a friend took a call telling him to switch over to 60 minutes.
CBS had LeBron on its stalwart franchise, a standard celebrity profile with one most memorable shot. Schmoozing reporter Steve Croft at his old high school gym, LeBron casually heaved a ball underhanded from beyond half court. Naturally, he made it, like Tiger sparking a thousand hallway conversations at a thousand offices Monday morning.
Did you see that shot by LeBron on 60 Minutes?
Yeah that was awesome.
Dudes unreal, isnt he?
Yeah, hes amazing.
How bout Tiger, did you see that?
Ridiculous, I mean he does it every single time!
LeBron and Tiger. Physical specimens, both freakishly strong by the standards of their sports. Financial monsters with sights set on a billion.
Give LeBron an edge as the more natural actor, more authentic on camera and better suited for a humorous stint on SNL.
Tiger, nine years older, is at this point far more accomplished, the unquestioned king of clutch.
LeBron can begin to close the achievement gap by playing deep into June, at about the same time Tigers defending his U.S. Open epic.
Tiger and LeBron. Who rules?
Its a debate the television networks and a country tired of talking economy would love to have.
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner