I watched Tiger Woods win his 7th straight PGA event bringing him firmly in second place in the record book. It was so hyped that if he lost I think some people would commit suicide because the end of the world would be near. Looking back on the last ten years of Tiger in golf I can see how it became so crazy but I don’t understand it very well.
I was told Tiger was an overnight success that took the golf world by surprise. Looking at the facts of the career of Tiger woods. He started playing golf about the same time he learned to walk. He beat his first golf pro at the tender age of thirty-six, MONTHS OLD. He was sent a letter by Stanford University asking him to consider Stanford as his choice for higher education. Poor Tiger was surprised at the letter and had to ask his father why he would get a letter like this. He was eleven years old at the time. He won the U. S. Junior Amateur Championship the last three years he was eligible and then went to Stanford where he won the last three U. S. Amateur Championships. From there he turned professional. Overnight? The boy had been playing competitive golf for eighteen years! Not what I would call overnight, though he was a success. Before he played his first professional round of golf he had a one hundred million dollar contract with American Express. Nike joined the band wagon with millions more. He stepped out on the national stage and finished a whopping 67th in his first PGA tour event.
Building the myth
His start in professional golf was typical for over hyped kids playing with grownups for the first time. What stunned the golf world was not that he had won his next event but that he won the Masters Tournament. He not only won the event that no colored guy had won but beat the snot out of everyone. Youngest person to win the Masters, lowest total score in the history of the tournament. Greatest margin of victory in the history of the tournament. He intimidated the entire pro tour filed. People started to expect greatness from this child of 21. The next five years he mostly delivered on those expectations. The field would see his name on the list and start calculating what it would take to win second place because he did not lose much if he caught the lead he usually kept it. Expectations were so high that when he finally went a whole year without wining a major tournament there are 4 each year, they called it a slump. They discounted the fact that he won 10 times that year or that he came in the top ten a number of times. These were things that people used to prove they were good in the past but for Tiger it was not enough unless he won at least a major each year. Never mind that Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors in his 40 year career, and that is a record that stands today and was thought of as unbreakable. Now people are wondering why he as not broken that record yet because he has been golfing for 10 years as a professional. He had 40 chances to win them all what’s his problem.
I fear that expectations are so high for the now 31 year old who holds most of the records in golf is that he can’t meet them. It was quipped this weekend that it is expected that Tiger Woods will hold all the records in the world of golf before his career ends. The record book will be one page listing all the records in golf and one name. Thank God his dear departed father had the foresight to ground the boy and prepare him for his fame and fortune. He has stayed away from drugs which wiped out a few young golf pros, and alcohol which wiped out even more pros. Mr. Woods has learned to manage his money so far and the only weakness he seems to have is for blond women and a love of the sport of golf. I wish him well and hope he wins number eight. It has already been speculated that he set it up so he would win the masters clinching his 5th win there and breaking the record of 12 consecutive wins at the same time. More crap but it sounds nice.