|"Can he do it again?"
Even though Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, 25 years young, has proven himself as one
of golf's fiercest all-time competitors, this question is asked time and time
But, that's really not the point of the question, now is it? In the sport of
golf, it's as uncommon to see black athletes as it is to see George W. Bush
without his puppeteers (ahem, advisors), but yet, Tiger Woods dominates. Hey,
I'm not going to front like some network T.V. golf analyst. I've jumped on
the Tiger Woods bandwagon like the next man, woman, and child. To be honest,
the closest I've come to playing golf starts with word "miniature," but I do
know a set-up when I see one.
For a week before the start of the U.S. Open, I noticed the sensational media
coverage focused on Tiger Woods. From TV Guide to Newsweek, from ESPN to
Sportscenter, it drastically drew The Truth's attention. What jumped at me
was the repetition of one simple question: "Can he do it again?" Win 5 major
tournaments in a row. "Can-he-do-it-again?" It was like a broken record.
Talk about pressure. Were they talking of the same Tiger Woods who won his
first Masters in 1997 at the age of 21? The one who made the whole world
claim "I'm Tiger Woods"? Were they speaking of the same person who set
countless records and forced country clubs to stock up on golf balls for all
the Tiger wannabes? Before Tiger, when was the last time brothers had a
conversation in the barbershop about golf? See? But yet, reading the front
pages and browsing the sports columns, I sense strong doubt. You know what
I'm saying. An almost "hope he doesn't succeed" attitude.
Tiger took a game popularly perceived as a "white, rich man's" sport and gave
it a facelift. He dominates the game with sheer skill and unmatched talent,
setting new standards and transcending the game itself. So, with dominance
comes the usual player hating. From the media to those old, retired, gray
haired bigots on the green, few want to see a black man's name next to
another record in their history books. There is that subtle and constant
reminder in the press of yesterday's golf greats, letting the public know
there was "White" life before Tiger Woods. Always telling us of the fantastic
feats Jack Nickalus did 30 years ago. They observe Tiger Woods as golf's new
god, but never fail to remind us of another time and different type of
pressures. As usual, the media will big athletes up to invincible heights,
and after they peak - SLAM! - the flaws are exposed.
With the smoke cleared and the U.S. Open complete, Tiger Woods must lick his
wounds. Who won? I don't care. I do know it was some cat that doesn't have
the same style, skill and eye of The Tiger. But whom did Tiger compete
against? Was it the challenging golfers, the media, or the history of the
game? Or was it himself? My assessment is all of the above. The pressure of
fighting every element may have played into the "off" game Tiger endured.
Tiger showed us that despite his greatness, he's also human. That even the
"Best-of-the-Best" can succumb to the pressure of hype.
In my view, Woods' Open defeat has drawn a collective "whew" from the golf
establishment. Not only did Tiger lose the Masters for a second time, but the
record books have been saved some more ink. Tiger was unable to pull off a
5th major title in a row, which would have been the first in golf history.
That would have been great to see if only to hear the response of mainstream
media and the predominantly White golf kingdom.
For now the defeat is a minor setback, so let me pose the question this time:
Can he do it again? Of course - if anyone can, it'll be Tiger Woods. And for
all the haters, doubters and snob-nosed spoilers, here is a bit of advise . . .
RIDE THE BENCH!
To comment on this or any other column by Drew "The Truth" Alexander, email