Above: Photographer Keith Allison captured Tiger Woods back in July 2007.
Sean Cooney takes a look at last week’s US Masters and finds that the sports bankable image, put in turmoil by Tiger Woods, may have found a new champion embedded in an old cliche.
On the 26th of November 2009 a solitary golf swing, struck in anger, catastrophically altered the world of golf. Elin Nordegren, former wife of Tiger Woods, drove a golf club through the window of his clumsily crashed SUV.
This act was in response to Nordegren learning of her husband’s infidelity, the extent of which left Woods’ reputation shattered and noticeable cracks in the popularity of the sport.
The absence of Woods has seen television audiences almost half for show-piece events like The US Masters, an audience which is the oldest of any professional sport. For a support base made up of middle-aged men, the indiscretions of Woods opened a potentially ugly aspect of their favoured pastime.
Behind the majority of aging but aspiring golfers is the long suffering ‘golf widow’. The passive spectator. She, who in the eye’s of her sullen husband is unable to appreciate the subtleties required to master such a thing as The Masters but all the same is content to invite this indulgence into her living-room each Sunday: Woods personified golf and the knowledge possessed by her lay in him.
Overnight a game once described as’a good walk spoiled’ became a good marriage spoiled, by infidelity. Dark questions suddenly arose surrounding the annual golf trip. In this time of crisis golf desperately needs a new hero.
Approaching the back nine on Sunday of this year’s Masters, a hero seemed to emerge. With the mundane Rory McIlroy offering an equally mundane performance, golf’s accountants were poised to herald the era of Jordan Spieth.
What they got was a reminder of the brilliance of Tiger Woods. Golf may be unique in sport as the psychological edge outweighs the physical, supreme confidence is prerequisite for winning.
When Woods repeated to himself the Nike advertising mantra of “I’m Tiger Woods”; it meant something.
As Spieth’s ball met the water for the second time on the twelfth he lost the years first major, meaning someone had to win; arise Danny Willett.
Willett, we were readily informed had witnessed the birth of his first born son just ten days previously and had graciously been given his wife’s ‘permission’ to attend.
In the immediate aftermath of victory, Willett was reminded of this and invited to thank her.
Before donning ‘the green jacket’ he obliged his golfing masters. The King is truly dead, long live the King!