Those who know me know that I am an eternal optimist. I dislike knee-jerk cynicism (like most of what you read when people discuss the Bills / Sabres) and try my hardest to find the best in everybody. That’s why it pains me to admit this:
I Hate Tiger Woods.
I don’t mean that I’m publicly admitting this for the first time. I mean, it just happened to me while watching the conclusion of the Honda Classic. It was the result of a perfect storm of events, and I simply cannot feel good about watching him win ever again. But even more, it would have given me agony if Rory had backslid on the Bear Trap and let Tiger into a playoff.
This isn’t just a matter of “I’m sick of hearing about him.” Yes, I think it’s sometimes crazy that people in the Top 5 of a tournament are utterly ignored so we can check in on Tiger’s 10 footer for par to remain in 19th place. But I understand that he is a draw and pays the bills for the networks. That reality is not his fault.
And I haven’t been a Tiger-basher during his career. I overlooked his cockiness or attributed it to the determination needed to excel at such a high level. His fist pumps were great to watch. I was so enthralled by the dominance or clutch performances that I wanted him to win every week. I wanted to tell my son that I was able to watch this kid develop. Recount how he was saddled with the pressure of impossible expectations in his early teen years, but not only met them – he shattered them. I had no problem with him knocking Jack Nicklaus into second place in the history books.
Even during his scandal, I was glued to the TV set for his famous press conference. I was looking for every reason to like him again. To believe fully that we all make mistakes and that we should all be given a second chance. I could tell my son how he succumbed to the temptations of overwhelming success & power, but that he learned some humility and was even a better person when he finally eclipsed Jack Nicklaus.
I was even happy for him when he finally won at Sherwood in December and was disappointed that Robert Rock won at Abu Dhabi. So when he made the eagle putt on the 72nd hole with an exuberant fist pump, I was shocked when my verbal reaction was:
“Get over yourself, jerk!”
What the heck was happening?
I wrote an article a few weeks ago picking on his white shoes and pondering how Tiger’s relationships with his caddies & ex-wife were a mess compared to Phil Mickelson. But it wasn’t fueled by hatred, just the result of observation.
Was I unimpressed with the round? In a way, yes. Faced with zero expectations from that far back in the field, Tiger was able to go low. But when he had some expectations while paired with Rock & Mickelson, he failed to appear. But that couldn’t explain why I was feeling so cynical.
Earlier in the week, I was a little annoyed with his handling of the Alex Miceli question. I understand that certain questions can be tiresome, but his dismissal seemed unnecessarily rude. Still, I hadn’t realized how much it had crept into my mind.
On Saturday, I watched him sign autographs for several minutes while some NBC voice-over acted like he was doing something revolutionary & wonderful. Unfortunately, it made my skin crawl. There was not a single smile or even smallest indicator of a connection with the fans. I hate feeling this cynical, but it looked like he was saying in his head, “my consultants tell me this will help restore the brand.”
But it was his post round interview that hit me the hardest. He was engaged, smiled with the interviewer, and gave long, thoughtful answers. Unfortunately, I was reminded of this West Wing Quote:
“It’s not hard to like a guy when he’s doing well. The measure of a man is, how does he behave when things are otherwise?”
It’s easy for Tiger to be nice to reporters after shooting a 62. But his true character is revealed when things are otherwise. And on that measure, Tiger fails, especially when you compare him to the man who just assumed the #1 Golfer Title. Think of Rory McIlroy after a gut-wrenching back nine at Augusta or even last week, after just missing out on his opportunity to take over the #1 spot. The juxtaposition couldn’t be clearer.
It’s over for me. I feel like Dan Jenkins was right all along and I was a fool for giving Tiger the benefit of the doubt for so long.
Still, it’s not like I want him to toil in mediocrity forever. It’s good for the game to have powerful players and figures. But Tiger’s role will be the guy I hate to see win, and love to see come up just short to Rory McIlroy or Phil Mickelson.
It’s hard for me to feel like this about a person, but I just can’t help it anymore.
(By the way, I still can’t stand the sight of Stewart Cink, but it’s not “hatred”)