GOODNESS VS. GREATNESS
Then, incredibly, in April, 2019, Tiger Woods was in the final group on Sunday at Augusta National in the Masters.
Geniuses separate themselves from others in obvious and measurable ways. Einstein's breakthroughs in 1905-1910 were like that. In sport it is even more obvious, though just as rare. Babe Ruth in 1920 hit more home runs than other teams. Gretzky's records are unapproachable.
In 2000, Tiger Woods won 9 times, including the US Open by 15, the British by 8, and won the PGA with his “C game” in a thrilling playoff against some guy who was playing his once-in-his-life chance. (That is another thing sport sometimes gives: a nobody, a journeyman, who has one moment of glory can win against one of the greats.)
NOT A ROLE MODEL?
THE REALITY SHOW
Woods often scared the TV director by emitting guttural curses when he missed a shot. He brought rowdy young people among the "patrons" and "galleries" of golf spectators, and they responded to his gestures with unseemly noises that shook the air. "In the hole!" they screamed on tee shots made from more than 500 yards away; when Woods finished a hole many began to move on to the next one before other golfers had their chance to play.
“He has the yips,” they insisted, applying a label that implies a hopeless state that marked the end of many careers. Hogan and Snead each had the “putting yips,” a mental block neither could overcome under the enormous pressure of golf events.
“But his putting isn’t what it used to be,” they still insisted.
LIES, DAMN LIES ... AND STATISTICS
In baseball, if you safely hit in only three of each nine at bats, you will be in the Hall of Fame (a symbol of the rarity of excellence, attained by only a small percent of the best players in the sport).
From ’96 – ’08, his win percentage was almost 40%, far ahead of anyone in history, a statistic made even more amazing because he, unlike Phil or any other pro, played only the event with the strongest fields on the toughest courses.
A PUNDIT EATS CROW
There are few analytics that can measure this value.
Nicklaus said he knew Tiger would win as soon as Molinari put his tee shot in the water on hole 12 and Tiger drove his to the middle of the green.