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Tiger, Tiger

 article about Tiger, Tiger

Tiger Woods recently won his 4th PGA championship with relative ease. This followed his smashing victory at the Bridgestone Invitational the week before. Can't anyone man-up to this guy?



The 89th PGA championship was held at the famous Southern Hills club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The temperatures were hot, very hot. The thermometer broke 100 degrees Fahrenheit during each round. It was the hottest weather conditions ever for a major championship. Tiger Woods was hotter.



The T-man grabbed the tournament by the throat with a blistering, sub-par round on Saturday and took a commanding three stroke lead heading into Sunday's final. Nobody had a chance and they knew it. Tiger held-off charges from Woody Austin and Ernie Els, with little trouble, to win by two strokes. Not even an actively psychotic person believed Tiger was ever in trouble. The tournament is finished when Tiger takes the lead going into the final round of a major. Literally. He has never given up a lead under such conditions. He was not about to on this hot Sunday.



This was his 13th major championship conquest since he turned professional in 1996. He has now won five of the last twelve majors and has finished second three times during that stretch. This is a remarkable record.



Tiger was even more invincible a week earlier. Playing at one of his favorite courses, the South Course of the Firestone Country Club, Tiger annihilated everyone who bothered to show up. Not only was he the only player under par for the tourney, he won by eight strokes. His opponents were completely vanquished by the man in the red victory shirt and black slacks. It was almost unbelievable to watch.



Everyone agrees Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer out there, far better than anyone else. It is not a question of beating him, but rather, why can't someone at least challenge him? Playing in Tiger's two-some in the last two rounds when he is contending is a trying, nerve wrenching adventure. Thousands of fans gather about, almost all rooting for him. They start to move and make noise as soon as their hero makes his shot. It's a tough atmosphere to fly in.



Tiger is in supreme physical shape. He has become something of a workout warrior and it shows. It almost looks like he is wearing some Batman-like body armor underneath his golf attire. This guy is cut. This guy looks like a world class athlete. Too many pro golfers look soft and gooey. This physical presence gives him another advantage and was probably a big factor in the heat at Tulsa.



Yet, Tiger Woods is not playing against some guys who just wandered in off the nearby public course. These are the best professional golfers in the world, with the best equipment ever devised and the best coaching available. These are players who have tons of experience and talent, who have won multiple times around the world.



The Canadian Stephen Ames was paired with Tiger for Sunday's final round in the PGA. Ames is a quality pro. He has won the Players Championship. He has been around. He has talent. He wilted like some thirsty flower in the Oklahoma sun before Tigers' onslaught. Ames had no chance to begin with since he was already three strokes behind at the days start. Still. He immediately bogied the first two holes. He was obviously shaken by the Tiger effect. The almost hapless Ames finished with a dismal six over 76. This happens repeatedly. Can anyone do better?



The golf world knows that Phil Mickelson has the most raw, golfing talent out there, after Tiger. But Lefty has done badly in majors when he and Tiger were both in the hunt. Phil is now injured and has to overcome that before he can begin to mount anything resembling a challenge.



Ernie Els conjored up an excellent final round in the PGA before fading in the sun. He was simply too far back to win. Ernie is big, strong, with plenty of talent and has won majors. But he too, has fallen well short in Tiger duels.



Sergio Garcia? Please. Sergio has been proclaimed the next challenger for almost a decade with little to show for it. He is also sounding like a little baby-pooh, whiner lately, which has turned off fans, other players and the media. He probably needs maturity pills more than anything else.



Charles Howell III and other young players are always touted as the next hot thing, but Charles Howell III and the other young players are often nowhere to be seen come Tiger time.

John Daly can hit the ball farther than Tiger and has been an excellent putter at times. John Daly is also a mental mess, with almost countless addictions haunting him. He would be an interesting Tiger hunter but he is capable of disintegrating at any second over anything resembling a cigarette, a drink, a woman or a casino.



Does it matter? The overwhelming majority of fans do not seem to mind. The TV ratings jump dramatically when Tiger is on the prowl of a tourney in the final hours. Attendance at tournaments drops measurably when Tiger is not playing. Tiger is an excellent role model and spokes person. He works hard, is good to the fans, treats the game with respect, takes care of himself and is now a well-celebrated family man with a baby daughter, Sam and knockout wife, Elin.



It does matter. Conflict drives drama. Conflict arises from rivalry. Think of Ali-Frazier, Nicklaus-Watson, Borg-McEnroe, Celtics-Lakers. Imagine the interest and drama if an Ernie Els were to ascend to the next level. Imagine what would happen if he and Tiger were paired together and tied for the lead with four holes left in the U.S. Open and what if Ernie won?  Imagine the drama, the interest, and the television ratings if Ernie and Tiger were to duel it out for the next couple of seasons with Ernie beating Tiger one or two more times. Now that would be high, almost heavenly golf drama. Such a scenario would be far more entertaining and intriguing than winning a tournament by seven shots. Just don't expect it to happen anytime soon.



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