Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tiger mania. Spare us

First it was rather comical. Then, like somebody telling the same joke over and over again, it got to be annoying. Now, it's just downright sad. Pitiful.

That would be those, especially the media, that are attempting once again to resurrect Eldrick Tont Woods, sometimes known as Tiger, to his former godlike status. They,,,just...won't...give...up.

Because Their Highness has -- sound the trumpets -- royally announced that he will enter another golf tournament, the madness has began anew.

Out come the highlights from times long past. Line up the cameras and microphones for "breathtaking" interviews. Trot out the usual gang of "experts", analysts, and other talking heads to get their opinions on such an earthshaking event. No doubt, the 4-letter sports network has gone to Defcon 1. Condition red, all hands on deck, and man the battle stations. Dammit, this is serious stuff.

Or is it?

Woods hasn't even played in an official tournament in over a year and a half.
He hasn't won one in over three.
His last "major" victory was almost a decade ago.
And last but not least, Tiger is currently ranked #663 in the world. That's just not "under the radar" as they say, it's buried deeper than the Marianas trench. To put that in perspective, that means the equivalent of about a dozen complete NFL rosters worth of guys are viewed as being better than him, right down to the third string offensive guards. That's a whole lot of folks. Far more than both houses of Congress combined.

So one could logically ask --- why the insanity over some guy with those credentials, or lack thereof, deciding to play in another tournament?

Perhaps it harkens back to what he once was. There is no doubt whatsoever that once upon a time, Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer in the world. From the late 1990s until about the time Barack Obama was first elected President, Woods put up arguably the best decade of golf ever seen. He was winning seemingly everything. Tournament after tournament. Majors galore. It was only a matter of if, not when, he would surpass Jack Nicklaus's all-time mark.

But then, as we know, his personal life imploded, he was beset by various injuries, and his game basically went from top of the line, to mediocre, to non-existent. A colossal fall of the once so mighty. And long before he was even 40 years old, which he is now. Actually 41. Not geezerish in the world of professional golf, but definitely on the back side of his bell curve.

His chances of winning when thrown in with all the young lions currently on tour would be slim at best. True, guys like Nicklaus won tourneys well into their 40s, and lefty Phil Mickelson still makes some noise once in a while, but for the most part it's a younger man's game.

The competition is a lot more ferocious than in years past. It's not just the established big names like Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, there are scads of players capable of putting together four good rounds to win a tournament. Plus, the young guns from the world over are going to keep on coming. What Woods once did to the established players of his time, as in run roughshod over them, he can now expect to be done to him in return. Sure, the other competitors will give him the proper and respectful lip service but, make no mistake, on the course they'd just as soon beat his brains out.

Then again, there's always the long-shot chance of something totally unexpected happening. See the recent presidential election. So you never know. Could Woods actually pull off the unthinkable, Trump style, and -- gasp -- win something again? It IS theoretically possible. To even begin to try and imagine the aftershocks of such an event is mind-boggling.

First thing that would likely happen is Woods would probably zoom up at least 640 spots in the rankings. They'd find a way to get him in the Top 25, after a single win. The mania would heighten. It's an angry mob out there just waiting for a reason -- any reason -- to go nuts again. Their hero has been out of action long enough, and they're just itching for a chance to get behind him again.

But even such an unlikely win wouldn't put the king back on the throne. No, he would have to do much more than that.

The huge test will come in April. Some little thing called the Masters. If Tiger can stay healthy and be even semi-competitive for the next two months, both far from a given, the golfing eyes of the world will be watching closely. Woods knows the course well and has won there before several times. Might there be the snowflake's chance in the Sahara that he could pull off the unthinkable and capture another green jacket? Thing is, besides all the other stuff he's gone through, Father Time isn't going to cut him any slack any more than he does anybody else. If Tiger's ever going to win again, it has to be soon. So this is likely his best shot.

But if THAT were to happen, it's scary to think what might come next. His groupies would flog themselves in ecstasy in the streets. Talking heads on TV might get so excited they'd spontaneously combust and burst into flames on the air. (Now THAT would be interesting viewing.) All other action on the 4-letter networks would immediately stop, so they could devote round the clock coverage. The endless replay loops would go on for days, weeks, years.

Tiger himself might have to quickly leave Georgia and head west to California, forsaking his Florida home. Why? Because if that sort of thing can come to pass, maybe instead of California one day breaking off and sliding into the Pacific, everything east of it would slide into the Atlantic. That's not supposed to happen either, but who knows?

If a guy can come from #663 all the way back to #1, anything's possible. Actually, Tiger is tied at #663 with a Canadian named Adam Svensson. Both are a mere one thousandth of a point ahead of a South African named Titch Moore. Ever heard of him? Me neither. But he has the dubious distinction of being #666, supposedly the sign of the beast. Woe be it to Tiger if he should happen to fall back such a minuscule amount to claim THAT spot. Yes, he can be a pesky little devil at times, but let's not get carried away here.

Speaking of which, we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves either. Woods is a long, long way from any such lofty status. First he has to make a single cut and there's no guarantees he'll even be capable of that. He could well crash and burn again.

Which in the whole scheme of things might be for the better. Who wants to see so many people beating themselves senseless in public? And though it sounds intriguing, maybe those live exploding heads on TV isn't such a good idea either.

Most of all, America seems to doing fairly OK with four time zones. Zapping it down to one, as in everything east of the Rockies being underwater, would quite likely impose some serious hardship on a lot of folks. A pretty drastic scenario, to say the least.

But for now, is it asking too much that they quit with the Tiger replays from yesteryear already? The guy hasn't done squat in his hopeful comeback yet, and odds are long he ever will. I mean, isn't that a little bit like having to re-watch the inauguration of, say, George W. Bush over and over again? He's still alive and had his day too (strangely enough roughly during the same time Woods did), but it's hardly newsworthy now.

Let's see about him making a cut first......

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