Tiger Woods is back!! Again!!! Is this Tiger 3.0? 4.0? 7.0? Who cares? All people care is that he’s back. Even the people who loathe him secretly care. They’ve been waiting for the day to hate someone again. Ian Poulter just doesn’t cut it unless it’s a Ryder Cup year.
Yes the greatest of this generation is going to be back on the course this weekend at Torrey Pines. Most will tell you that they are cautiously optimistic that he can play the majority of the PGA schedule. That feeling will die pretty quickly once The Masters gets here. That’s when Tiger will be judged by Tiger standards even though everyone acknowledges that we will never see that guy again.
So with all the great young talent on the Tour, why can’t we quit Tiger? It wasn’t that long ago that there were fans out there saying that the Tour needed to move on from Tiger. That young guns like Jordan Spieth were much more likable. Some even claimed that the likes of Spieth would be just as marketable as Woods. Something that those honest with themselves knew wouldn’t happen. It reminds me of when people thought there could be a brand that could match Michael Jordan’s Nike/Jumpman.
As Tiger tees off and flashes his new TaylorMade irons, we will all still be looking for greatness. The reason why we can’t quit Woods is the same reason why we couldn’t quit Jordan in a Wizards uniform. Deep down inside we know how rare greatness truly is. We as fans always realize it too late. We get so caught in rooting for or against a player or team, that we lose the true appreciation of what we’re seeing.
Every sport needs a hero or an adversary depending on what side you’re on. In the era of a million channels, sports programming needs a reason to get people to tune in and that usually resolves around the titans of the sport. Magic Johnson needed Larry Bird. Michael Jordan needed the Bad Boys. We judge greatness by what is done in the most pressure packed moments. We use those moments to measure whether the player deserves to be in the pantheon of their sport.
Some will ask who did Tiger have? He had Phil Mickelson. He had David Duval. He had the Ghost of Jack Nicklaus. Tiger was the only golfer of this generation that we dared put in the same sentence as Nicklaus. We didn’t do that with Phil Mickelson. We didn’t do it with Greg Norman. We didn’t dare do it with anyone. We did it with Tiger.
This spurned debate. Suddenly, non-golf sports shows were talking about golf. Tournaments that had Tiger in contention had ratings that were off the charts. People who had never thought about watching golf suddenly started tuning in.
More importantly, Woods inspired a new generation of kids to pick up the game. The same kids who watched him on TV will be the ones trying to beat him this weekend. They want to see if the “old man” still has it and secretly so do we. We want to see a tournament come down to Spieth and Woods. It will pit those who wanted Tiger to go away with the people who wanted him to come back so bad.
People will be back to debating golf. Who is the best now? Who is the best of all time?
It will be just like the good old days.
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook. Member: USBWA, FWAA