Next week, a 45-year-old man and his 12-year-old son will play in a fun, end of year, silly season tournament and the world of golf will go absolutely bonkers.
There are great parent child teams in next week’s PNC at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando. Women’s world number one Nelly Korda plays with dad Petr, the 1998 Australian Open champion. Justin Thomas teams up with father and coach Mike. John Daly and son Little John play together. Lee Trevino and son Daniel, and on it goes.
It’s questionable whether any of the other duos will get much airtime given all eyes will be focussed on Woods and wee Charlie, just as they were 12 months ago. In fact, quite why organisers have invited the other tandems is a mystery. They’d probably get away with just televising Tiger and Charlie playing together and many golf fans might not bat an eyelid.
You can bet every action Tiger and Charlie take will be shown, and perhaps analysed to death. Don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can face two days of the Tiger & Charlie Woods show.
Which leads me to ask: Will the Tiger Woods bubble ever burst?
I might be an exception, but the insatiable thirst for Tiger Woods stories, any stories, baffles me. We saw it on the Sunday of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. A three-second video of Tiger hitting a wedge shot with the words, “making progress” went viral. Golf media outlets probably gave more coverage of that three-second video than they gave to Colin Morikawa becoming the first American to win the Race to Dubai, or Jin Young Ko hitting 63 straight greens to win the CME Group Tour Championship.
It’s always been thus. TV and website coverage of Woods is sometimes so over the top in many tournaments, even when he’s playing poorly, you wonder if some players in the original draw have pulled out given they get so little coverage.
My old employer Golfweek would sometimes plaster Woods on all four frames of the home screen on the website. I sat in several “think tank” meetings where we had sessions on how do we get more Tiger Woods stories on the site? Once again, any Tiger Woods story.
One publisher inquired if it was possible to do a daily feature of Tiger lists. One website editor once told me Tiger Woods didn’t just move the needle: he was the needle! Mind you, this same guy’s interest in golf came into question when he once asked: “Who’s Ben Hogan?”
I still recall the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool where colleague Beth Ann Nichols wrote a brilliant story on Englishman John Singleton, a factory worker who had qualified for the championship. It was/still is a brilliant story, well written and well reported with Beth Ann talking to family and friends, his fiancé and even his factory boss.
That story lasted about five minutes on the Golfweek website during Open week. I think Tiger Woods scratched his rear end on the 10th tee and that historic moment was enough to replace the Singleton post.
Okay, I’m perhaps being somewhat facetious, but you get my point. There were times when I wondered why many of us invested a lot of time and effort into trying to write compelling stuff when all that seemed to matter was a guy called Tiger. Didn’t matter what Woods said, and he often says very little, he was/is always the story.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested to see how he performs next week considering he supposedly came close to not only losing his leg, but his life. Like everyone else, I admire Woods for the records he’s achieved, the history he’s made, for his sheer talent, the way he’s fought back from injury to win, especially the 2019 Masters. I understand that so many non-golf fans only know golf because of him. What I don’t get is the over the top obsession from many golf outlets over the years.
I realise I risk being called a hypocrite when I’m writing about Woods in this blog. In my defence, look through blog stories on this site and there aren’t many on Woods.
Go to any golf tournament, even one with a limited field like the PNC, and there’s a plethora of great stories. To be fair, many golf writers would love to delve deeply into those storylines, but when the guy adding up the clicks and the page views wants Tiger then writers are not in a great position to argue.
That’s not to say there aren’t websites, golf outlets that do other compelling stuff. They do. It’s there: it’s just often hard to find whenever Tiger clears his throat.
Anyway,I hope the networks/websites bring some balance to next week's coverage. I’m looking forward to watching Lee Trevino show off his superb ball striking abilities at least once next week. As for Tiger tossing grass up into the air, or walking from tee to green beside Charlie, I think I’ll give that a miss.
#JustSaying: “This game lends itself to great story telling.” Jeff Babineau