Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tiger Wins Masters, And Golf Needed It

Tell me, was golf really better off while Tiger Woods hibernated?

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Tiger gobbled up majors like Pac-Man, folks squirmed and moaned that one man's dominance was somehow damaging to the game. How much more fun it would be, they said, if others won once in awhile.

So as Woods slumped in the last two-plus years, nobody, predictably, came close to matching his exploits. Nobody emerged, front and center. Nobody was, truthfully, the player to beat. Everyone was in the same boat, it seemed, without Tiger at the rudder.

Well, you know what? Golf got a tad more boring, folks, in the meanwhile.

He's baaaack -- I hope.

Every sport, I am convinced, needs a dominant player, someone that everyone guns for. Someone that fans love, but yet also love to see get defeated every so often. Someone that fellow competitors dream of going up against, even if they get the snot kicked out of them.

Tiger Woods was once that player, and with his dramatic, come-from-behind win at last weekend's Masters, he may be on his way back to being that player.

If he is, golf just got a much-needed shot in the arm.

Come on, admit it -- golf was more fun when Tiger was winning everything in sight, seemingly invincible. His mastery of the game put him in a class by himself, and wasn't it thrilling to watch the others trying to play the tournament of their lives just to stay within shouting distance of him? Wasn't it more exciting when someone else won, since whenever someone else won, it was mostly considered an upset?

But then Tiger slumped, and golf slipped into its version of parity. You know, "on any given Sunday...."


I hope the old Tiger Woods is back. I hope this latest Masters win, which Woods himself called the "sweetest" of his four Augusta championships because of its dramatics and the official ending of his slump, is only the beginning of his return to dominance.

Golf, which has been a sport of Davids lately, needs its Goliath.

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