So why is it that we always refer to golfers like we know them? In any other sport, unless it’s a unique first name like LeBron, we call everyone by their last name or nickname. Toews, Stamkos, Ovy, Manning, Brady, Trout, Kershaw, etc. Yet with golfers we talk like we know them! Rory, Phil, Tiger, Bubba, Jack, Arnie, we hardly ever use their last name. Why is this? It’s not a big deal, but it’s just…odd. Anyway…
This is my first ever golf piece! Nearly 4 years down for the Soups on Sports site, and I’ve never felt too compelled to talk golf. I like golf, and rarely miss a major, but to me it just doesn’t translate to being a hot topic that I have to talk about. However, I felt it after this weekend.
Some may take pleasure in watching Tiger struggle, but I don’t. Tiger is probably the biggest reason I’ve ever swung a club before. I was 13 when he emerged. It was the biggest sports story on the planet when he won the 97 Masters. It was not just the hot story of the moment, he was the story of the year. And he really didn’t play good again in 97 after dominating at Augusta, but it didn’t matter. Sports next Michael Jordan had arrived.
So to see what has happened to him gives me no pleasure. I’m not going to give up on the guy. He still has 6 or 7 years left to win majors should he get his game back together. No chance he’ll ever be back to what he was. But can he get back to being amongst the best in the world? Of course. He can win 2, maybe 3 more majors. But he’s definitely at rock bottom as we speak.
But how ironic is it that while we talk that way about Tiger, Jordan Spieth has really arrived. He accomplished something on Sunday that Tiger had never done and that is coming from behind to win a major championship. In all of Tigers 14 major victories, he never once did so by coming from behind on Sunday. And Spieth if you can believe it is now ahead of Tiger in majors at the same age.
Will he be in Tiger’s league, or better? Time will tell, but he’ll never be what Tiger has been. Obviously the fact that Tiger was African-American, was so intense on the course, was a bit of a mystery as a public figure because he never gave a good sound clip and never was anything friendly to reporters, it all just made him such a polarizing guy.
Spieth isn’t really any different from anyone else out on the course. He looks and acts just like all the other guys. And he can’t bomb it down the fairway. With Tiger if you recall, they would “Tiger proof” the courses. Tournament organizers would extend the length of courses due to Tigers ability to drive the ball like John Daly, yet have the best short game in the world to go with it. That isn’t Spieth’s game. He is currently 69th in driving distance on the PGA tour hitting it an average of 291.1 yards. There is zero flash to this kid. Yet he is on the cusp of greatness.
It would be amazing for golf if Tiger can get his game back together and we had a 3 or 4 year window where the legend faced off with the up and coming challenger. We never got to see Tiger vs Phil, and we have yet to see Jordan vs Rory. But you can’t deny that at the moment, it looks as though Tiger might be done, while Jordan Spieth is half way to a grand slam, and on pace to pass Tiger in major victories. How long until we begin asking if he’ll catch Jack? Up until 2009, it seemed inevitable that Tiger would be the guy to catch.
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