My guess is that this weeks’ PGA Championship hosted at Hazeltine National Golf in Chaska, MN (August 10-16), will be the last time that Tiger Woods graces the Land of 10,000 Lakes in such a grand event for quite some time. Thus, if you’re overly interested in having a 50/50 chance of seeing sports history up close and personal, then you might want to give those tickets a shot.
I have talked about golf plenty, but I’m not sure that I have conveyed one clear statement about golf: It is really, really, hard, difficult, aaand challenging. Something I have conveyed is that Tiger Woods is the only person who is any good at golf. If you go to youtube.com and see some of the tricks and other stuff Tiger Woods can do with a golf club and a golf ball, you would think he is better suited for a Cirque du Soleil type magic show in Las Vegas. He’s good, the rest of us are trying, and the “rest of us” include the other players who get paid (almost, but not really) like Tiger.
It is hard to come up with another example of a person of this era who is far and away better, and more important, than everyone else in a particular skilled athletic profession than Tiger Woods. Sounds too fancy, but the best example I can think of is Michelangelo who is widely considered the greatest artist of all-time. Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor, and architect, while Tiger Woods is a historic golfer, prime philanthropist, and image of racial progress in America. It always sounds strange to think of sports in such important of a fashion, but if “sport is to adult, as play is to child” then it sort of makes more sense that the humanity of those playing the game can loom larger than the game itself.
Golfers seem to reach their prime after 30 or so. Tiger Woods is 32. There is no better time or place for Tiger Woods to kick off the best years of his already historic career than here. We all know Minnesota is a pretty special place, but with the PGA Championship being the last of the four annual major championships, a climactic element is added overall. In addition to the general elements of the event there are other storylines to observe this year, and I definitely think that overall it will be worth the price of admission even if just for one of the practice rounds on the first three days.
Though Tiger Woods is central to the eyes of the golf world, a story of greater weight exists with his primary competitor Phil Mickelson. Both Mickelson’s mother and wife were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and this will be the first tournament since he stepped away to care for his family. I’m sure that many of us take for granted the pink ribbon campaigns supporting Susan G. Komen , but stuff like that hits home every day, and I can raise my hand as far as the homes breast cancer has hit. I can’t raise my hand and say that my wife and mother both were diagnosed in the same year, and I’m sure that not many people can. No matter how much money you make (and Phil Mickelson makes bookoo buckets of bread), or how many golf tournaments you win, some things can crush all those good times in real swift fashion and make us all feel the same; and so the humanity within sports makes itself known again, but in a different way than with Tiger.
Other than that, everybody in sports is just trippin’ because they think Tiger lost his Superman powers since the combo of knee surgery, marriage and fatherhood were added to his forefront concerns. Oh how in the days of the 24-minute news cycle they quickly forget. It was only a year and a half ago that the man beat all of the best competition (and they were playing their best) while limping and grimacing over a fully torn knee ligament resulting in that good ole bone-on-bone action…and it was on one of the hardest courses to boot. Then again, of course, a year and a half can be a long time. Hopefully for a little sporting pizzazz to end the summer round here (already) Tiger will wave his 9-iron over Lake Minnetonka and make it disappear, only to make it reappear in North Minneapolis. Or maybe he can just win and give me the exclusive post tournament interview. I’ll have to see if I can squeeze him in.