We’ve been privileged to enjoy a 15 year run of dominance (and rebirth of the game in the public eye), thanks to a fellow from Cypress, California. 14 major professional championships, 3 amateur ones and 3 junior ones make Tiger Woods a 20-time major winner.
During his run, Tiger has gainfully employed a series of challengers, who go by the names of Phil, Sergio, Padraig, Bob and Rocco. Some were around for the entire run, while others popped their heads through the door for a single event. Whether Tiger regains his status at the top is unlikely, unimportant and unresolved.
Tiger is older, damaged and vulnerable. He is 35, divorced and deflated, and in the midst of another, major swing change. His attempt to chase down Jack Nicklaus’ record in the professional majors continues, and may turn out to be the sole focus of his next 15 years of professional golf. Unfortunately for him, he will face challenges from a generation of players that does not fear him quite as his own generation did.
Understand that the Martins, Louis’, Graemes and Yangs don’t need to dominate Tiger. They need that one, transcendant week to steal a major from his grasp. Or, more importantly, they need the various skeletons and scar tissue from Tiger’s past to appear at just the right moment, to cause a mistake.
I am guessing that, more than a swing rebuild, Tiger sought a kindred spirit in Sean Foley. He is at an age where he may not need, or may not tolerate, an older, teaching figure. Unlike Nicklaus, who respected Jack Grout’s teaching for his entire career, Woods does not seek the older, wiser woman or man to guide him into his 40s.
The next time you hear an over-zealous anchor, reporter or fan toss out the phrase “the next superstar,” chuckle a bit. There is one superstar and his name is Tiger Woods. Phil, Lee, Martin, Ernie, David, Padraig and Vijay have been quite good, even exemplary, players. Only Tiger is a superstar.