The publication of a couple of prominent articles this week (Cameron Morfit at GOLF.com, Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian) on the prospect of a golfing world no longer defined by the dominance of Tiger Woods would seem to suggest that the golfing media’s year-long bout of bad faith with regard to all things Tiger may finally be rumbling to a close.
And not a moment too soon, either, for the longer the industry labours under the mass delusion that Tiger’s on his way back to the top, the more long-term damage it does to the image and marketability of the game.
For too long a frank discussion of the true scale of the psychological trauma experienced by Woods has been neglected in favour of nonsense debates about down-with-the-kids Sean Foley (was I the only one reminded of David Brent’s dance on reading Farrell Evans’ Golf.com interview?), how custody agreements might impact a practice schedule, or whichever final piece of the puzzle was missing during the week of his latest mediocre finish.
Tiger has undergone a public humiliation on a scale that is, from our perspective, literally unimaginable.You know those dreams where you arrive for a really important event, like an exam or an interview, and at the last possible minute realise that you’ve forgotten to wear clothes?
Tiger has essentially lived that dream and continues to do so, in mitigated form, every time he tees it up. Shame and embarrassment have cost him his aura, that intangible quality that defines a multiple major champion. He may win majors again– I’d be surprised if he didn’t– but dominance just isn’t going to happen; History and common sense will tell you as much.
That the media has been so slow to respond to the game’s shifting hierarchy is hardly surprising; after all, Tiger=$ has been the formula underpinning the industry for nearly fifteen years. But the time has come to evolve a sustainable approach to coverage of the game that doesn’t actively denigrate the status and achievements of the many at the expense of an unrealistic investment in the tribulations of the few.