The Masters: Tiger was simply embarrassing

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2012

By Tim Dahlberg
Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s a question we’ve all been asking since he wrecked his Escalade and his life that Thanksgiving night 30 months ago.
Who really is Tiger Woods?
Part of the answer came in a foul-mouthed, club-kicking back nine Friday at the Masters that would have gotten you or me thrown off much lesser golf courses than Augusta National.
Pretty simple, actually. He’s an embarrassment to his sport.
If Billy Payne was watching he had to be horrified. The Masters chairman who famously chastised Woods two years ago for conduct unbecoming a role model would have seen conduct unfit for the back nine of a local muni.
Amid the staid confines of golf’s most hallowed grounds, Woods acted like a petulant teenager who wasn’t getting his way. He cursed, hung his headand took mock swings in anger. To top things off, he kicked his 9-iron about 15 yards on the 16th teebox after badly missing yet another shot.
“I think we can safely say Tiger has lost his game … and his mind,” CBS analyst Nick Faldo said on air.
The player who vowed to honor and respect the game when he came back from the sex scandal that derailed his career and ruined his marriage did just the opposite. And he did it on a course where over the years the game’s greats have conducted themselves with only the best sense of deportment.
Asked afterward how he felt, he could only offer this:
“I feel hungry.”
Woods will be around for the weekend because the 75 he shot was still good enough to make the cut, though watching his histrionics as he played the back nine might have led a casual observer to think he was struggling to break 100. He’s eight shots back of the lead and will have an early tee time Saturday with defending champion Charl Schwartzel, who might want to bring along a helmet in case the clubs start flying again.
If Payne was as serious about keeping club decorum intact, he would do well take it upon himself to show Woods the door.
Stand up to the bully. He’s allowed to get away with things the other 95 players wouldn’t dream of doing. Stand up for a game that Woods insists on treating as if it were a roller derby match.
Won’t happen, of course. Woods gets special treatment here not just because he’s a four-time champ who knows how to say all the right things when they drape a green jacket around his shoulders, but because he moves the needle on television.
That Woods is still fighting the demons that have gotten into his game — and perhaps his life — is evident. He’s obviously frustrated at being where he is in a tournament he expected to be competitive in after winning two weeks ago at Bay Hill, and is coming to the unsettling realization that the swing changes he’s made don’t always work under pressure.
But he’s the greatest player of his era, and a role model in the sport. He has a responsibility to behave, yet he can’t seem to control how he behaves.
He embarrassed himself, and he embarrassed the sport.
But at least we know more now about the real Tiger Woods.