Champion Golfer of the Year

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Open ChampionshipDid you know that the asterisk comes in many forms? Theres the six-pronged star, the 16-pronged star, the Arabic star, the Japanese rice star, and so on and so on.
 
Its good to have these many symbols, because the asterisk has many meanings. According to Wikipedia ' the worlds foremost authority on asterisks and everything else (for those of us too lazy to actually do research) ' it was originally intended to indicate ones date of birth. You can now use it to:
 
*Call out a footnote ' Abraham Lincoln loved going to Fords Theatre*
*Avoid offending people (can I write jerk face or do I need to do it j**k face?)
*Offer anonymity ' Mr. ***** Woods (James Woods?)
*Provide emphasis ' I *love* monkeys
*To list silly items like these
 
Justin Rose
Justin Rose is one player who believes this week's winner should have an asterisk by his name. (Getty Images)
'When we think about an asterisk today, however, one thing comes to mind: ignominy. We cant help but associate an * the size of Barry Bonds bulbous head with his 762 home runs. Ford Frick wanted one for Roger Maris 61 in 61. I want one for the entire Ron Zook era at Florida.
 
And now, people ' fans, media, and even some players ' are saying that the winner of this weeks Open Championship should have a * after his name.
 
Two words: total c**p.
 
Now, if youre saying this tournament deserves an asterisk as a footnote, because it was played without Tiger Woods, I can buy that. It will be impossible for us not to remember the fact that this major, as well as the upcoming PGA Championship, will be contested without the greatest player who ever lived, particularly a guy who has finished first or second in seven of the last eight major championships played.
 
But, if youre saying the winner isnt legit, because Woods didnt compete, and therefore is not a worthy champion, again: total c**p.
 
The Champion Golfer for 2008 deserves to hold the claret jug high and chug whatever he wants to out of it without reserve. The player with the lowest score over four rounds (or more) deserves to be regarded as a true major champion, not someone who won only because Woods wasnt present.
 
A debate, however, will persist regardless of who wins as to whether or not a * should be attached to his name.
 
If that name is Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els or some other proven major champion, some will say they wouldnt have been able to add to their major tally had Tiger been in contention. But whos to say that Tiger would have been in contention anyway? He may well have been, but there arent any guarantees.
 
If that name is Peter Hansen or Soren Hanson or some other shocking victor, some will say thats what you get when Tigers not around. Tiger played in 2003 when Ben Curtis won. And Im pretty sure he was there in 2004 when Todd Hamilton prevailed.
 
If that name is Sergio Garcia or Adam Scott or some other player fans have been waiting to claim a maiden major title, some will say theyre not truly major winners until they beat a field which includes Tiger.
 
Hunter Mahan feels this way.
 
Think of Adam Scott and Sergio, said Mahan. But if they do win, there will be an asterisk because Tiger wasn't there. They're going to be the Houston Rockets of the mid-90s when they won back-to-back titles after Michael Jordan retired.
 
Justin Rose shares that attitude.
 
If I was to win the British Open thered be an asterisk next to it: Tiger Woods not in field. You know what I mean? Rose has said.
 
Obviously, Tiger affects a field when he competes, particularly in a major championship. The fact that he wont be at Royal Birkdale means that no one has to search to find his name on the yellow score board, and maybe it frees up certain players to focus on their own games and not worry about what hes doing (see Els).
 
But a major win is a major win, and a major champion should be regarded as such without attaching a big but .
 
Upon winning THE PLAYERS Championship, Sergio Garcia said that he wanted to thank Tiger for not being there. There might have been some truth to that, but the statement was made mostly in jest.
 
Does anyone diminish Garcias victory because he didnt have to beat Tiger? Does it ever cross your mind that Garcia won a Tiger-less PLAYERS?
 
It shouldnt. And it shouldnt cross your mind when you talk about the eventual 2008 Open champion. Tiger not playing is a footnote for the tournament; not an asterisk of Scarlet Letter proportions made to wear by the winner.
 
As for contestants at Royal Birkdale worried that a possible triumph might forever be tainted by Tigers absence, here are two more words for you:
 
Go home.
 
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