There’s all this talk about whether Tiger is back or not. He loses a tournament, and he’s done. He wins one, like he did at the Memorial, June 3, and he’s not done. The debate rages—I guess rage is a little strong, but the Craig Slaughter Era doesn’t officially begin till August 31.
Some guys, and women, too, I guess, in the media, act like no matter where Woods finishes, if he doesn’t win every week—or goodness, me, plays poorly—he’s a goner.
The reason for that criticism, as I’ve bored you with in the past, is because the writers have to see it all before them very easily. It just doesn’t work for them if Tiger wins one and then goes on a bad streak. It messes up their notebooks.
The beauty of golf, much to their chagrin, is a player can win once every two or three months and have a sensational year. Why should it matter if Tiger was beaten in an early round of the Match Play Championships in February, if through June 9, he owned as many triumphs as any other single player on Tour, and he is eighth on the money list?
Another myth which does nothing but grow: if Woods does not match or break Jack Nicklaus’s record for pro majors (18), Jack will be crowned the best-ever for eternity, or at least until I have seen a last putt dropped before I’m dropped.
Woods has captured 14 majors. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s actually 17 for Tiger, 20 for Nicklaus. That’s counting U.S. Amateurs. Funny how they don’t make it on the Great Tally Sheet when they sure as heck did when Jack was chasing Bobby Jones’ major accomplishments. Jones claimed 13 Grand Slam titles—five were U.S. Amateur crowns, one was a British Amateur trophy. Bobby never turned pro, and age pretty much beat him in the event he started in 1934, the Masters.
What’s ridiculously overlooked are Tiger’s 73 Tour wins, the same as Nicklaus’s number. That’s second behind Sam Snead and his 82 first-place ribbons. Does Snead ever get votes as the greatest ever? Will Tiger get that nod if he passes the Golden Bear in this category? (I don’t think Slammin’ Sam will be teed off his perch.)
In baseball—boy, the writers must hate this—we don’t really know if Ruth was better than Cobb; if DiMaggio would be chosen in the backyard over Gehrig or Aaron. Who was the best pitcher—Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Carl Hubbell, or Christy Mathewson? Don’t look at me.
So, golf’s U.S. Open is upon us in beautiful San Francisco. I hope Tiger wins, because I want him to win every week. If he doesn’t, you won’t find me worrying about his career being kaput at the ancient age of 36, and I’ll be in front of the telly again to watch the British Open next month at Royal Lytham St. Anne. I may miss the glorious fog passing through the Golden Gate, but I won’t leave my heart there.