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Friday, June 17, 2005

The Open, Day One: Corporate America run amok

The Overhyped new Tiger Woods swing gets its first real test.

As expected Pinehurst #2 has played remarkably tough in today's opening round. Phil Mickelson is 1 under par and in excellent shape. Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods are tied for 13th at Even par. All three got the job done today in the sense that they are in the Championship, and did not shoot a high score as Tiger Woods is so very capable of doing when he actually has to manage the course, and use his inferior Nike equipment. (As you may be able to tell, I am not a Tiger Woods fan, and do not believe he is anywhere close to being the top golfer in the world right now-guys who go out and shoot 80s in major championships as Woods has done very often the last few years cannot be considered truly dominant just because they win weekly tour events which mean nothing in the larger scheme of things.) I really expect to see some backward movement on day two, tomorrow, though the way Phil Mickelson is hitting the ball and managing the course, he could run away with this championship, which the fans would love. A USGA official stated earlier in the week that if the players that complained about the tough conditions at last year's Open, they ain't seen nothing yet. I personally feel that the conditions should be as tough as possible- this after all is not the Honda Classic, but the US Open. I like seeing the rough at 3 feet as it has been in many previous opens (it was less than a feet high last year when players whined about the conditions) and players have to manage the course. For my money, the Masters with its wide fairways and scoring opportunities is a beautiful course, but is not the test of wits and true skill that is the United States Open. This is among my favorite weekends of sports viewing all year long, and I'll be glued to my Television this weekend to see if Tiger Woods really is back. And being a fan of the US Open telecast on NBC means I'll get to hear the best analyst that covers sports, Johnny Miller call it like it is. When Tiger Woods shoots an 81 in the third round he'll say Tiger Woods "choked!," and his swing "stinks!"

Players prefer Singh to Woods: Is it because Tiger Woods is Corporate America?

A few weeks ago Tom Pernice Jr. who is a long time PGA Tour veteran and a pretty typical tour player made a very provocative statement regarding the rivalry between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Pernice said that the vast majority of players root for Singh who supports the PGA Tour and its events much more actively that Tiger Woods. Pernice said something along these lines (paraphrase) We appreciate that Vijay is there for us, and plays the events that don't get as much publicity to support the tour. Tiger Woods only plays when he get an appearance fee, and I speak for most of the players in saying we root hard for Vijay when they are head to head with the #1 ranking on the line.

Does this in fact mean that Tiger Woods only plays when he is guaranteed a big pay check? In a world where professional sports has become a mere extension of corporate entities, Tiger Woods could be most corporate driven athlete of all time. We're all supposed to be impressed by Tiger Woods golf game and his great record of winning weekly tour events, but are supposed to overlook his nasty temper, his poor play in National team events when no money is at stake and that Jack Nicklaus in his heyday never went two consecutive years without finishing in the Top 10 of a major played in the United States as Woods did in 2003 and 2004. Tiger Woods after all once referred to the Ryder Cup as practice. "If you don't get paid it's not an actual event, " he told the press in 1999. Woods used to skip the Ford Championship at Doral previous to this year because he was sponsored by Buick. Woods also skipped the Mastercard Colonial where Anika Sorenstam played two years ago because of his contract with American Express. Perhaps Tiger was ducking Anika? Or was Tiger merely collecting a big payday from Buick at some event in Germany?

From my unique and somewhat eccentric perspective, Tiger Woods is all that's wrong with sports. Then again, he's so fun to root against, it'll be no fun if he were as bad as let's say Notre Dame is in Football right now.


Anonymous said...

No question that tiger makes lots of money and can be difficult to take. But do you have to attack his gold game as substandard? I don't think anybody in the sports media would take you seriously after you basically stated that Woods cannot be considered one the top players in the world. That is insane.

Joe said...


I don't doubt that most of the tour pros pull for Singh. He's just like they are- inaccessible, snobish (when he made his disgusting comments about Anika, I am told most of the tour players cheered him in quiet fashion), and someone who plays all these useless events.

What makea an event a big event? If Tiger Woods plays is the answer. Obviously most of the tour players are envious of Woods, because he wins, he makes money, he's glamourous and he isn't one of the guys, whereas Singh is one of the boys. Mickelson also is not well liked by the other tour rpos because he is alot like Tiger.

Matt said...

Are you nuts? Tiger Woods is far and away the best golfer in the world! Do you even watch Golf, ofr just the events he doesn't play in?

Kartik said...

Woods is very hit or miss. He either wins Majors or he isn't in contention. A fourth place finish at the 2003 British Open notwithstanding, Woods was never even on the leaderboard the final day of a major between his 2002 US Open win at Bethpage and his 2005 Masters win. He often blew up in third rounds and got defensive even defiant with the media after the events. This is contrasted with Ernie Els and Vijay Singh who are always in contention at majors with limited exceptions. I DO NOT CARE WHAT WOODS DOES AT THESE MADE FOR TV WORLD GOLF CHAMIPONSHIP EVENTS- I DON'T CARE THAT HE WINS ALL OF THEM- THEY ARE NOT MAJORS, AND NEVER WILL BE MAJORS. Yes he's won more majors than Singh, Mickelson and Els combined. However, the three of them have been fighting each other for majors the last few years while Woods has been off the course before the leaders tee off. Woods also has a terrible record at the Players Championship which is probably the biggest event outside the majors. He won the event in 2001 and has been nowhere to be found on the leaderboard since.

I am not anti-tiger Woods. I understand Golf, a sport which I have been a fan of since I was a little boy is now mainstream because of him. (I used to get made fun off in school for being such a golf fan). However, he is largely a corporate creation. A golfer who at one time was one of the best we've ever seen who has been slumping now for 3 years (Jason Giambi has been slumping for two years and we ask should he retire?) and whose myth is much bigger than the reality of his game today.

Anonymous said...

I'm not much of a golf enthusiast and I mostly share George Carlin's viewpoint on the "sport" :

("Basically, a dull, boring game to watch. Have you ever seen golf on television? It's like watching flies fuck."), a kinda dumb premise ("How much brains does it take to get enjoyment out of this: You hit a ball, with a crooked stick, and then.... you walk after it. And then, when you find it, what do you do? YOU HIT IT AGAIN!!!! I say pick it up, asshole; you're lucky you found it in the first place!")

but I nontheless have seen and watched enough of it to agree with Kartik's premise of the boorishness of the self-important, egomanical and very corporate, Tiger Woods.

His talent for the game notwithstanding, I find Tiger to be the perfect symbol for a soulless game for a soulless time for our country where vapid and similarly cash & fame driven counterparts like Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson & Tom Brady are celebrated and gushed over.

Between that phony, everpresent smile of his (ala Tom Cruise), his smarmy frat house jockular attempts at humor (ala Scott Maddox) and his unceasing publicity & marketing whoring persona (ala Michael Jordan) it is no surprise that Tiger continues to reap millions and millions on the sucker stamped foreheads of his fawing and adoring "fans".

All one needs to do to put Tiger in proper perspective is to compare his (so-called)accomplishments and life to a REAL trailblazing African-American giant who shook his sport and the generation around him - the former Cassius Clay - Mohammad Ali.

Where Ali stood for eloquence and charisma and questioning authority and protest and principal IN ADDITION to his victories in the ring, Tiger Woods is synonomous with endorsements, commercials, self-promotion and greens (the cash variety)SOLELY BECAUSE of his success on the course.

He is the perfect poster boy for our times.

A corporate wunderkind who can swing a golf club.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the premise. The emdia loves Tiger Woods or they are scared that Nike will cut off funding to their networks if they criticize him!

JK said...

Godo blog. I hate the phony Tiger Woods who once fired his caddie because he was getting too famous. What a jerk.

Anonymous said...

Tiger Woods is probably the best athlete in the world. It is because he wins that he makes so much money and it is because of his stature that other players are envious and root against him.

Joe said...

Singh is typical of the country club crowd that dominates Golf. Tiger Woods and to a lesser extent Phil Mickelson are more press savvy and bring hordes of fans like Arnold Palmer into the game. Of course Singh is the favorite of the conservative, beer guzzling tour pros. They want someone like them to beat the tar out of the snot nosed kid who opened up the sport to the masses. Singh increased his loyalty from the snobs when he attacked Anika Sorenstam. Like a political candidate he was playing to his constituents, even if the media didn't like it.

JK said...

Woods doesn't seem to win very much anymore. I guess that's good, the rest of the sport has caught up to him.

Anonymous said...

Tiger Woods is a golfer's dream player. No personality off the greens and provokes about the same amount of interest as the Buick cars he pushes on TV. Eldrick Woods is very good, but so is pitcher John Rocker when he isnt fuming about some idiotic fan or foreigner.

To further support the K-man's opinion, its quite easy to enter a sport and dominate if you are 20-30 years younger than the rest of the participants that are playing past their prime.

Golf in many ways reflects the good ole boy standards that have been in place in that sport for ages. Breaking onto the tour is more difficult than entering into any of the other professional leagues in which real athletes participate. For example, as long as you are tall, and can dunk a basketball (Shaq as a rookie) you can get into the NBA. But for golf, one has to play tournaments, earn your merits, apply for a tour card, etc. even to be considered for selection.

My brother-in-law's dream is to play pro golf, but without that silver spoon he has in his mouth, he would never come close to achieveing that goal. I couldnt buy my way into the NHL (well maybe this non-season I could) but if I had some cash laying around and wasnt addicted to pain pills or drinking (John Daily), I could take some pricey lessons and play a tournament in golf.

All in all, golf is a painful to watch activity, not even a sport. Horse racing which is on TV 3 times a year gets more attention than golf. To all of you "golfers" try a team sport where you can actually play without paying greens fees, cart rentals, or buying expensive clubs which wont make your game any better. I play stickball in the street, total cost for a game: free.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.