Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Everyone should be punched in the face at
least once in their life.
Without a good a** kicking, without some pain and struggle, it's tough to
Tiger Woods is just dragging himself off the mat after an extended beating --
one which cost him his unchallenged status as the world's best golfer, and the
better part of his public image.
He won five times this season and reclaimed his No. 1 world ranking, but he
went 0-for-4 in majors. By Tiger's standards, 2013 was a lost year. Let's not
forget, he was the one who marked Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors as the
measuring stick for his career.
Woods had a pair of top-10 finishes in majors this year (T4 at the Masters, T6
at the British Open). He tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open, while battling and
elbow injury, and saved his worst major performance for last at the PGA
Championship, where he posted four rounds in the 70s at forgiving Oak Hill
(eventual winner Jason Dufner broke the course record on Friday and Webb
Simpson tied it) and struggled to shoot par during an irrelevant Sunday,
finishing in a tie for 40th.
Tiger missed fairways and putts, scrambled for pars, tweaked his lower back
and quietly left the course before Dufner grabbed the Wanamaker Trophy, the
spotlight and a handful of his wife's backside Sunday evening.
"It's always frustrating going out there, and I'm 3-over today, got to seven,
and I'm grinding my tail off coming in just to shoot even par for the day. And
I'm nowhere in it. That's tough," he admitted.
This isn't the Tiger we expected to see when he was blitzing fields in the
early 2000's, but I like this Tiger. There is something endearing and
relatable about watching him grind and grimace, grab his ailing elbow or
back, and take what Charles P. Pierce recently referred to as the "burdened
walk" up the fairway.
Adversity is humanizing. When Tiger was dominating years ago he wasn't
relatable, he was superhuman. That was the attraction, but his story was
devoid of drama: it wasn't if he would break Jack's record, but when.
But struggle makes the payoff sweeter. The more rewarding accomplishments are
always the ones that were harder to achieve. If Tiger eventually passes
Nicklaus, after the scandal, the injuries and the years of doubt, the feat
will be that much more gratifying.
I've argued in favor of Tiger's greatness in previous columns (check the
archives, please). I want him to win 19-plus majors just like I want LeBron
James to win seven NBA titles. I want dominant players to tie and break
records. It allows me to put their careers in perspective and measure them
against the all-time greats (some of whom I wasn't afforded the privilege of
In music, the bridge is the buildup before the chorus. It usually doesn't
sound as good as the rest of the song, but it is a necessary element: it
builds tension. It makes your ear long for the chorus, and when the chorus
finally arrives, the payoff is sweeter because of the bridge.
Tiger is definitely dragging out the bridge now. He's holding a dissonant
note. But if he can make it to the chorus, win that 19th major, it will be as
transcendent as 'Hallelujah.' The 19th will be his masterpiece, filled with
memorable highs and unexpected turns. It will be his 'A Day in the Life.'
The Sports Network