Tiger Woods may have ruined the future of golf.
10-15 years ago Tiger dominated the game like no other and raised the bar of competition on the PGA Tour to an unforeseen and unimaginable level. Ask a non-golfer, someone who doesn’t know the sport or its history, to name a golf pro from any era. Tiger will undoubtedly be mentioned… Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer… perhaps. Those are the players that have earned the prestige to be notorious to even the most novice of fans; those are the household names. Some others?.. Sure. But Tiger stands out even above the rest? Why?.. -because he’s more recent?.. It’s a whole lot more than that. He’s expanded and extended the game to heights that others never have.
Competition on the PGA Tour has become so cutthroat that week in and week out there seems to be hardly any wiggle room for error. We know that there is an elusive group, say the top 25, that has emerged to compete in almost all tournaments. However, winning on Sunday seems to be getting more and more troublesome to even those PGA elite.
The bar Tiger set to win on the Tour is being met, and many more are emerging with a game capable of a remarkable four day stretch. To elaborate – the top 25 is growing to a top 50 with an entire field able to push boundaries only Tiger could during his years of dominance. Take a guy like Collin Morikawa and pit him against Tiger in the early 2000’s. I don’t want to sit here and tell you that Tiger still wouldn’t be the best or come out victorious. I’m just trying to show you that a guy like Morikawa would have better odds at giving Tiger a run for his money than a lot of guys playing in the rest of the field in those earlier years. Now, put 50 Collin Morikawas in that field. Suddenly, odds start to get a little more shuffled.
The typical pro has new standards, higher expectations, and an ability to play the game at a level only one guy could do each and every week on a consistent basis. Can that typical pro play that well like Tiger used to? Not week in and week out, no. But in a field of 75, a whole lot of guys not only have a shot of reaching that standard but seem to be doing it.
Will there ever be someone as dominant as Tiger in our lifetime?.. How can you even get your game to a level required to beat the rest of the field for more than a year or even a few months? The ‘next Tiger’ would have to be robotic. Every whole would have to come down to a 10 foot birdie putt or less. The capability of the typical pro is only going to increase. Every guy teeing off on Thursday is going to be good enough to have a four day stretch where they’re in the running come Sunday afternoon. The leaderboard is just going to become more and more stacked as time marches on. We are already witnessing mankind's limitations on the perfect game; It’s being played by an ever expanding group.
What’s next? How can we be compelled to a professional sport where the best athlete has become a laundry list of guys? The time for heroes and idols in the game of golf is fleeting. TIme to change who we route for. Time to pick the underdog.. The nonames.. The longshots.. The never before seen. Time to route for the guy in the field that deserves the prize money; that needs the prize money. Time to route for the guy with the best story ‘cuz it’s become anybody’s game.
The problem: Tiger is the guy with the best story. Even the best and most dominant golfer of all time somehow has risen to a level that can never be reached. Why? Not only will there never be a golfer as great as him again, but nobody will ever be able to top all the shit the guys been through. It's officially over. Tiger has the entire field beat on every level. You ever want to scrape Tiger’s legacy, you better buckle your chinstrap ‘cuz you’re gonna have to have some hell of a life to top all of his antics; not to mention, your game is gonna have to be unimaginable. In the end, Tiger dropped the mike on golf. Take a bow, let the curtains close.