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T.J. Simers: Tiger Woods must win in extraordinary fashion

August 5, 2011 | 11:15 am

There was a time when the first thing I went to in the morning newspaper was hockey summaries, hoping Wayne Gretzky had continued his streak of scoring at least a point a game.

I’d rather have another colonoscopy than watch another hockey game these days.

There was also a time when I looked forward to watching golf, but only if Tiger Woods was competing.

If you’re a sports fan, it’s truly a marvel when one athlete can dominate an entire sport.

It helps explain the appeal of boxing or tennis, and how irrelevant they are when someone doesn’t emerge as a world-beater.

So what about Tiger? He’s not the same player, isn’t always entered in a tournament and is now carrying so much baggage -- yet he's still willing to fire his caddy.

Do people watch him now waiting, and in some cases hoping, for him to crash again, or do they watch hoping he will once again dominate?

The wife makes some kind of ugly noise whenever Tiger’s name is mentioned. She won’t go to a Mel Gibson movie, she says, because of who he proved to be off screen. The same goes for Tom Cruise, the wife saying, “The only way I could ever get through one of their movies is if I could get past the fact that’s Gibson or Cruise on the screen.’’

In other words, that means Gibson or Cruise would have to do Oscar-like work, the same now to be said about Woods.

If Tiger wins again, the love affair resumes, and sorry for the choice of words.

Tiger is going to have to win again and probably in extraordinary fashion to make so many sports fans forget his fall from grace. Americans love redemption -- redemption often measured, though, in amazing accomplishments rather than outright penance.

If Tiger wins, he’s the good guy again, golf once more compelling on the weekend. If not, he’s just another entitled athlete who blew it, his sport more often than not as interesting as hockey.

I’m pulling for him, and I hate that I’m doing so. I like an athlete best when I like him, and I’m not sure that will ever happen again with Tiger because we will never really know him.

He just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to let people get closer to him unless, of course, they were blond with maybe some porn credits on their resume.

But I recall the thrill, excitement and wonder at watching Woods, the athlete, do things no one else could on the golf course.

I didn’t want him to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of major tournaments won because Nicklaus brought me so much joy, but I would have counted it as a great sports memory had Tiger passed Jack.

It’s an age-old conflict. It’s hard for people to separate the sports accomplishment from the personal life of the one doing such great things. But if someone is going to keep sports in perspective and embrace it only as a game and means of escape, the sports accomplishment should be the only thing that matters.

There was a time when the fist pump, red shirt and competitive stare almost made him superhuman, but we know now that’s not true.

If possible, all that should matter now is what the guy can do with a golf club in hand. And I still find that compelling, almost enough to turn on a Sunday golf tournament, but only if Tiger’s name is on the leader board.

As it is, I now go to Gibson and Cruise movies by myself, so sitting alone to watch golf will be no big deal.


Tiger Woods follows 2 bogeys with 2 birdies; still 6 shots out

Tiger Woods puts well-known temp, Bryon Bell, in caddie job at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

-- T.J. Simers

Photo: Tiger Woods. Credit: Matt Sulivan / Reuters