Time to Empty the Tiger Mailbag

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As promised, the time is now to make my mailbag a public property. The way I view this column is simple. Its my forum for thought, but also a chance for you to make a few comments or send an opinion my way (positive or negative) that could perhaps lead to topical discussion on the Sprint Pre/Post Game shows each week. Trust me, your comments dont slide across the desk without a quick glance.
 
That said, over the past few weeks Ive received some 1000 responses on the Tiger Woods situation. In particular, the column I wrote titled Why all the Venom Toward Woods?
 
Truth be told, nine out of every 10 comments you threw my way agreed with the general feeling I have which is/was this: Though not perfect, I have a very positive view toward Woods. And Im more than a bit perplexed by a small minority who feel (and verbally show) great resentment toward Tiger no matter what he does.
 
One of 10 told me to go pound sand, which after caddying for Steve Flesch last week is not proper etiquette. We gently rake the bunker. Many of you said that I write way too much about Tiger which made me laugh. Check the archive of my columns.
 
Nearly seven of every 10 took Woods to task over his on-course demeanor. Many of you then took me to task (which is OK) for not giving my two cents on his on-course personality. Last week I did that, and my feeling is still the same. In short here it is.
 
I applaud Woods for 99 percent of his make-up. He handles more in one day on tour than many deal with in a year. He respects his fellow competitors, respects the game and is blessed with more talent and desire than anyone in the game today. However, I do have a hard time with his tendency to be caught on-camera with foul language or the foul habit of slamming a club.
 
I realize none of us is perfect, but Woods (like it or not) is a role model. He is a role model, in part, by his own doing. It is my opinion that in choosing to work with kids by way of clinics and his own Tiger Woods Foundation he has a responsibility to show them the right way. Other than that, let Tiger do things his way and lets enjoy it.
 
Thats my opinion. Now, heres a sampling of yours:
 
  • Why should I overlook his bad language, equipment throwing, etc,. just because he can play so well? I don't buy the argument that the likes of Tiger, McEnroe et al should be allowed any leeway based on their level of talent. I would 'like' Tiger if he could have the good grace and manners of other champions in golf (Nicklaus, Palmer, Norman, etc).
     
  • I can't believe anyone would say that Tiger is not a very good role model. So he gets frustrated with his game! So What! They all do! Tiger is someone kids and everyone should look up to, not bash because he's a winner and they resent him because of it.
     
  • I used to watch all the time, since you have become 'The Tiger Channel' I very rarely watch. If he is in the lead, report on it. When Tiger is in 15th place, it should not be the lead story.
     
  • My son was looking so forward to seeing Tiger, probably the way I would have felt about seeing Nicklaus or Palmer at their prime. We arrived at the course before Tiger began his round and positioned ourselves so that my son could get a glimpse of Tiger as he walked to the practice range. We were surrounded by other kids just like my son. As Tiger walked by, did he look up; did he smile, or even acknowledge the kids who were calling his name? No. He walked right past as if they didn't exist. I cannot imagine Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus doing this. Tiger has an electric smile that can light up a golf course. It makes him millions of dollars in endorsements. If he used it occasionally for the people who have paid their money and braved the heat to see him play, then maybe there would be a little less venom.
     
  • Two of the most beloved golfers by the fans, often get ripped by the media. One for playing too aggressive (Phil Mickelson) and the other for not gaining control of his life (John Daly). Yet we love them because they sign the autographs, talk to the people, and actually smile. Phil gets it. Phil realizes how lucky he is to be playing a game for a living and you can tell. He appreciates the people who cheer him on. Same with JD. It's far easier for me to love someone who 'gets it'. Tiger just doesn't seem to get it. (Or for that matter DL III, David Toms, or Vijay Singh) You're right, the fans have made Tiger bigger than life, in the same way the fans made Arnie the King. But while Arnie loved everyone in his kingdom, Tiger would rather put everyone to the guillotine. Hopefully some day Tiger will get it. In the meantime, go Phil!
     
  • I just couldn't believe some of the comments about Tiger! He is just about the nicest, best, intelligent, great golfer of our time. I just think it is jealousy. He cries all the way to the bank. I only watch the tournaments that he is playing in and forget the rest. He has brought so much to the game of golf. I just can't believe it when they criticize him.
     
  • It's amusing watching people such as yourself keep on the Tiger bandwagon. The field is no longer scared of him, and his childish antics can't be swept under the rug with the excuse 'oh he's still young'. He won't win another major for quite some time, and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't win a regular tournament again for quite some time. The coverage of Tiger today simply is NOT justified. Enough of Tiger already, show some respect to guys who deserve it.
     
  • Like it or not, his actions in the public eye directly effect viewers, children and adults alike, and his on course and in public persona are greatly lacking. I for one see him as maybe the best mechanical player to have played the game, yet his lack of personality and his bad mannerism, will in time diminish his public standing.
     
  • It blows my mind to see the intense level of hatred aimed his direction. But I also understand that the 'venom' that targets him is from the very people that never wanted him in the sport all together. Sure, as you stated, there are those who root for the underdog, just like those who want to see the Yankees humbled. But any rational person understands that there are limits. Kraig, you have to understand that there are more out there than you think who want Tiger humbled to poverty and out of the sport. Many were not ready for him in '96 and are taking their chance to express their loathing of Tiger now that he is not in peak form.
     
  • While I believe it to be true that there are some individuals out there who hate Tiger just for the sake of doing so I also believe there are people out there such as myself who respect what Tiger has accomplished but are frustrated with the manner of which the media refuses to be fair to other players on tour.
     
  • He talks about 'giving back to the game,' but plays only a few tournaments he chooses and lets the others go begging. That alone makes the win/loss record a bit contrived. Nelson didn't win that record streak by picking and choosing only the ones he would do well in. You media guys make it worse by doing petty things like ignoring etiquette on the leader boards and listing Woods at the top of those with the same scores rather than by number of holes finished or by who finished play first. I have observed Woods from a distance when he was here in Hawaii, and the 'made for the camera smile,' is just that. Especially when things don't go his way and the cameras aren't on him. Ever wonder why he doesn't wear a mike?? Talent? He has tons. Class? He could take notes from Palmer or better yet Zoeller.
     
  • Tiger's race plays a large role in the way many perceive him. Venus, Serena, Barry Bonds, although Barry much more than the rest caused some of the venom directed at him, and other black athletes suffer the same vicious commentary. Tiger's, Serena's and Venus' behavior is above reproach. They are often lumped into the same category with black athletes who do not deserve our praise or even our pity. You can't point to a single incident where Tiger, Venus or Serena publicly acted in a manner that brought dishonor to their sport or themselves personally. I do believe that Americans have a soft spot for the underdog but, if you listen to sport shows all across America the vitriol with which Black athletes are attacked for even the slightest transgression is not readily explainable but for their race. To criticize Tiger for showing up 18 weeks a year and performing at a level of consistency unmatched in golf history is insane.
     
  • I think Tiger's recent criticism by some, actually stems from his past performance being so completely incredible. People expect his past perfection every day. Winning 4 majors in a row and having his 2 year complete and overwhelming PGA tour dominance as it was, is such an incredible feat that can not be sustained. It takes complete focus and total commitment that can be only done for periods of time. Most mortals only do it for 2 weeks at a time; Tiger did it for 2 years. His current play only brings perspective how hard the game of golf is to perfect even from the world best.
     
    Hopefully you took the time to read those. Again, a small sampling of what amounted to 1000 or so responses.
     
    Disturbing to me is the subject of race. A handful of folks believe that has a lot to do with any anti-Woods sentiment. If so (and Im not nave enough to think that some wouldnt feel this way), we have just been given further proof that we as a country are far from ideal.
     
    As for thoughts that media types like me ride the Tiger bandwagon at light speeds, youre entitled to your opinion. Speaking for myself, I call it like I see it but attempt to remain objective in my views.
     
    Im biased about this however: I challenge you to find another channel or show other than The Sprint Pre/Post Game or Golf Central that attempts to bring you insight and interviews from so many players and many of them are not named Woods.
     
    Next week, we will not focus on Tiger Woods. I promise. Just thought youd like to see and read what comes my way.
     
    P.S. Hey, Steve Flesch. Thanks for the offer to tote your bag last week at the Bank of America Colonials pro-am. It was a thrill and a privilege to caddy for a colleague, a friend and now a two-time PGA Tour winner. It couldnt have been a better week!
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann