I will be the first to admit I have been a bit of a Tiger Woods fan-boy over the years and have taken to his defense on many an occasion.
It still puzzles me that so many in the media relish every chance to denigrate the man. Even more perplexing is to see those in the golf media circles take their shots. It’s an embarrassment to me to be lumped into “media” when I see how they sharpen their fangs every chance they get.
Even Golf Channel is taking their shots right now, showing needless footage of Woods recent arrest. Let it go people.
To me, Woods has always gotten a bad rap for his attitude.
I spent a week around Woods during the American Express championships when they were at Harding Park, following him every day inside the ropes and writing a first-person narrative.
He was charming and amiable throughout the week, often off camera. His interaction with the fans, as well as other players and tournament officials caught me by surprise because he had always been portrayed as distant and cold.
That was a point where my perspective of Tiger changed greatly.
Woods always has been the one to move the needle when it comes to golf–more than Jack, Arnie or any of the young army of talented golfers in the professional ranks.
Those of us in the industry appreciate when Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy or Jason Day does something spectacular, but outside of the core group of golf fans, save for Master’s week, the reaction is crickets. Very few outside of golf fans care.
In other words, golf is not on the plate of the casual sports fan, that is unless Tiger is playing. For many of those casual fans, it doesn’t matter if he is playing well, they will watch. For that matter even local news gets into it, making a point of reporting what Woods shot for the day, even if the event is taking place across the country.
I have written before about my parents and their sports viewing habits. It is pertinent to any commentary about Woods and his needle moving ability. My parents will pretty much watch any sports on TV, be it professional, college or high school, that is unless it is golf.
But throw Tiger into a tournament and you can bet they have it on TV. They are not alone as ratings substantiate the belief that when Woods plays, the ratings will go up.
For some odd reason, this rankles the purists who feel the game of golf is bigger than just one person. In some respects, they are right.Professional golf will continue without Woods. The players will play for incredible sums of money each week and the same group of people will be watching it on TV.
But here’s where they are wrong – the growth of the game suffers without Woods.
Don’t believe me? Ask Nike how their golf division is going without Woods in the limelight? Ask pretty much any golf course, as many are suffering since Woods has not been a weekly fixture on the Tour.
This is what makes the latest episode involving Woods that much more troubling. There are some of us that have been hoping Woods made it back to play regularly and waited for the boost it would give the game.
But he’s no longer just a sports figure in the news world. Organizations such as TMZ look to fire bullets every chance they get, whether they are right or wrong with their information.
What’s been clear is that Woods needs help. I believe that blood tests will bear out that it was a combination of prescription medicines that were in his system and that no alcohol was involved. Two breath tests showed no traces of alcohol. But there are be troubling questions.
For starters, what was he doing out at 3 a.m.? His sleeping problems have been well documented, but if Woods is at a point where his medications cause him to sleep walk and drive, then someone in the Woods camp needs to put the proper safeguards in place.
I believe the root of the issue can be traced back to how he was raised and what he has been exposed to. Outside of his mother, Woods was surrounded by people with questionable morals and ethics during his formative years.
Being that he was shielded by his camp from the real world as he was growing up, Woods was exposed to an unrealistic world. His sense of right and wrong may have been shaped by people that blurred these lines.
Adversity was not playing well or not winning a tournament, not real, everyday problems and it continues to come home to roost. As he has gotten older, those around him cater to his whims instead of holding him accountable.
He appears to be still shielded from the real world.
Woods needs help. He may never be the top player in the world again or for that matter, play in a PGA tournament, but having him around the game makes it better. Imagine having Woods in the announcer’s booth, especially with Johnny Miller. It would be can’t miss TV in a sport that allows for ample commentary.
But more important than golf, think of his kids. By all accounts Woods is a tremendous father and being there for his kids is the most important and best thing he can do the rest of his life.
I am one person who hopes for the best for Woods and that he can get the help he needs.
By Dennis Miller