#AskLav: Is Tiger-Sergio feud good for golf?


For one of the most prolific winners in sports history, Tiger Woods sure seems like he’s suffering a lot of losses lately.

So much for the slogan that “winning takes care of everything.”

Seriously: How much more blowback can this guy endure?

Dropgate. Bailing on Quail Hollow. The Met Gala pictures. The Sergio squabble. Dropgate, Act II.

He was called a bad guy by one of his peers, a liar by some salacious headline writers, a cheat by rules aficionados, and everything in between. Ridiculous. Unfair. 

And against all odds, Tiger Woods has now become a sympathetic figure. Perhaps only after a major victory – hello, Merion – will the focus return to his brilliant golf.

Here, the very Tiger-heavy #AskLav mailbag:

Wow, the rare #AskLav two-parter. Let's break this down.

1.) Great for the game. Tiger vs. Sergio may never be a true rivalry on the course TW has a huge advantage in every comparable category but the general disdain is compelling theater. Rarely does golf find its way into the lead spot on almost every nightly sports show, especially with the NBA and NHL playoffs currently underway. So what if the tiff was petty and petulant?

2.) Tiger hasn't played the Nelson since 2005 and likely won't again. Players have groused about TPC Four Seasons, necessitating an emergency redesign in '08, and the event's spot on the schedule simply doesn't work for Woods. Typically, he plays Quail Hollow and The Players, takes two weeks off, and then makes the Memorial his final tune-up before the U.S. Open. Adding another event in that span is too much.

Yes, at least until they put an official in the booth to watch the coverage. To me, that's a better alternative than having a rules aficionado in a La-Z-Boy determine the outcome of a tournament.

Woods turns 40 on Dec. 30, 2015. That means he has the rest of this season and all of 2014 and '15 to win 12 more times on Tour. OK, so in the next 2 years, let's say Woods plays a total of 50 events. (And that number is probably too generous.) If he wins four more events this season keep in mind he's won eight or more times in a season only three times (1999, 2000, 2006) then he'd still need to win four times in both 2013 and '14. A tall task, even if he does remain healthy.

AK underwent surgery last June to repair a ruptured Achilles, and the typical timetable for a return is 12 months. His manager at IMG told #AskLav 'we are assessing on a monthly basis.' In other words, no time soon.

Good question, especially with Vijay now Champions Tour-eligible and Jeff Maggert, the runner-up at The Players, less than a year away. The only way the OWGR top 25 someday join the over-50 set would be for the majors the money on the big tour is still too appealing and even then it seems unlikely they'd make the jump until they were in their mid-50s. Better fitness keeps these old warriors competitive longer.

There's no way to quantify that, of course. Tiger was immensely popular pre- and post-scandal. It was no surprise that his marketability took a hit in the wake of his scandal, but his reemergence on the small screen proves that he's trending upward not just on the course, but off it too.

Not to take the easy way out, but you have seen Tiger's record at Memorial, no? Two victories in his last three appearances, five wins overall, two third-place finishes and 11 top 25s in 13 career starts. It's possible maybe even likely that Woods will have five wins on the year when he arrives at Merion next month.

Fans will applaud Tiger for anything how tight he ties his laces, how beautifully he throws blades of grass into the air to judge the wind, how athletically he stretches before a tee shot. So it was little surprise that the fans cheered simply because he took a 5-wood out of his bag. That his rabbit-eared playing competitor could hear the roar 50 yards away speaks to the enthusiasm Woods generates among the masses, if nothing else.

Sir Nick hasn't played a major since 2010. He hasn't made the cut in a major since 2005. He has a 75.7 scoring average in his last five major starts. He'll turn 56 during Open week, and the CBS Sports analyst even conceded that he would need to 'get myself to pretend that I'm a golfer.' So, no.