Whether you like him or not, you have to marvel at Tiger Woods.
At age 29, he has already won 10 major titles, trailing the now-retired Jack Nicklaus by eight. Breaking Nicklaus' record seems like a foregone conclusion unless he suffers a serious injury, or just plain loses interest in the game.
His recent win at the British Open was textbook; so Tiger-like. He took the lead after the first round and emerged with a five-shot victory. He has won two majors and finished second in the other, and he will be favored to win the PGA later this summer.
One of the reasons I like Woods is that good round or bad, he faces the media. You have to respect that. Too many times, good players will make themselves unavailable or slink away after a bad round.
He also respects the game and the people in the past that made it great. When all is said and done, Tiger will be the best player in the history of the game. Many feel he already has that honor. Some feel that honor will come when he surpasses Nicklaus in major wins.
Tiger Woods IS the PGA Tour whether anybody wants to admit it. Without Tiger, golf ratings would be lower and there would be far-less interest in the game itself. The only negative is that Tiger doesn't play every week, nor does he need to, so fans sometimes feel cheated at not being able to watch him when a tour event comes to their town.
Tiger is candid, and many people couldn't handle that early in his career. I know people bristled when he would shoot a 69 and say "I didn't have my A game today." Most pros would take a 69 and be gleeful. Not Tiger. He feels, and probably rightfully so, that he's capable of shooting a 63 every time he's out there.
His work ethic is beyond reproach. You won't find a harder working guy in the game, and he keeps himself tremendously fit.
He has changed his swing a multitude of times, and when he's in the process of doing that, he doesn't win as often. That's so unfair. It's a slap in the face to the other talented golfers on the PGA Tour. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer didn't win every time out in their prime, and Tiger never will either.
If he doesn't win one of every three or four tournaments, people say he's in a slump. I say he's fine-tuning his game. He sees the bigger picture. Tiger keeps working with his swing because it's not perfect; not where he wants it to be. His swing, at least right now, is where he wants it. He has a new swing coach in Hank Haney, and the duo seems to be working well together.
I hope Woods continues to dominate. Dynasties are good for any sport. Tiger has elevated his game to such a standard, that he has given every player on the PGA Tour something to shoot at. They all know to beat Tiger you have to be at the top of your game otherwise you are automatically playing for second place and below each week. Many probably feel that way now.
Let's face it, many pro golfers would kill to have Tiger's B or C game, because they know that's good enough to win a couple of tournaments a year, and that's enough money to make a comfortable living. Two or three wins a year isn't enough for Tiger, however.
Many wonder whether Tiger, who got married this past year, will continue to have success once/or if he has a family. That remains to be seen. Somehow I think his mental toughness and focus will enable him to balance the two most important things in his life.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281