There are several columns in this vein I could choose from, but the one I found most irritating was Ron Galloway's piece for The Huffington Post, ludicrously titled, Why Tiger Woods is Bad for Golf. Here's a few quotes from the article just to give you an idea:
As I watched the tournament later on TV, Tiger would openly mouth obscenities when he hit a bad shot. You might chalk it up to a bad day, but he has made a habit of this during his career, as well as tossing clubs around on occasion. It's expected behavior for him now. If the FCC fined Tiger for every time he blathered the F-word on national TV he'd probably have $25 million in penalties racked up by now.So just to be clear, it's bad to curse, but making racially offensive comments is perfectly acceptable. Yes, Zoeller's comments were slightly misinterpreted, but he still shouldn't have made them and that's on him. It's absurd to suggest Tiger - barely old enough to order an alcoholic beverage at the time - was a jerk for how he didn't just come out and say what Zoeller said was okay. What a diva! Nevermind that Tiger did in fact make an effort to play down the situation, even though I'm sure on some level Zoeller's comments bothered him.
Many people, including most fawning TV commentators, celebrate this as "passion" or "competitive drive," as if the rest of the PGA tour do not possess these qualities. The reality is that it that Tiger's "intensity" is simply the d-bag behavior of a coddled bully. This narcissism first evidenced itself a decade ago when he imperiously hung Fuzzy Zoeller out to dry for misinterpreted comments that offended Tiger's sensibilities. If you google "Fuzzy Zoeller," 10% of the responses reference this incident. All Tiger had to do was shrug it off. He chose not to, nearly destroying Zoeller's career.
I talked this morning to a crossing guard at my kids' school who worked the tournament at the clubhouse. He said he had never seen anyone so pissed as Tiger was as he was leaving on Sunday, having been bested by his arch-rival, Phil Mickelson. Tiger bolted his way past most reporters and petulantly stared down anyone who tried to talk with him. Mickelson, on the other hand, greeted fans and took time to talk with people after his round, as almost all professional golfers will do.These are the type of naive comments that drive me crazy. Tiger is a golfer and the reason he's so good at his job is because he does take it that seriously. Sure, Mickelson plays mister nice guy (in front of the cameras anyway), but there's a distinct reason Tiger is on the way to becoming the best golfer of all time while Mickelson can't make a bogie to win the U.S. Open. Tiger plays with tremendous intensity, so you can't expect him to be locked in one minute and then just turn it off a few minutes later. He expects more from himself than everyone else out there. The same could be said of Barry Bonds or Michael Jordan (who, I might add, had the filthiest mouth in the NBA), so why should Tiger be any different? Comparing Woods to the rest of the players on tour is irrelevant because none of them come close to his level of excellence. You can't expect greatness but then bitch about some of the attitude that comes with it.
When I grew up going to the Masters, if you wanted to talk to Nicklaus or Palmer, you simply talked to them. They didn't act better than you or put on an air like playing golf is a mission from God. It's not. Nothing Tiger Woods does approaches the relevance of a neonatal nurse, a fireman, or the crossing guard I talked to this morning. Who matters more, Tiger or Sully?
As for the part regarding another great golfer, Jack Nicklaus, I've read numerous accounts that he was as ice-cold, intense, and aloof during major tournaments as Tiger or any other top athlete (not to mention he didn't have deal with the same media frenzy that Tiger does every week). So please spare us the revisionist history.