Relax, Tiger. It’s over.
The glow is gone. The media has ceased to natter over your personal affairs. Your game is still good, but not great like it once was. End your Sisyphean struggle to win back fans. They’re gone. Now you’re free to be the aloof, robotic stiff you are known to be in the players’ locker room: unapproachable, uncomfortable in your own skin, snippy, bitchy, and humorless.
But what’s worse—and weirdly telling on so many levels—is that you have been the type that practically strives out loud. And that’s rather crude and low-rent. Yet there you were from a tender young age, swinging for greatness while losing bits of your soul along the way. All this time you were like Bill Clinton, but without the sleazy charm.
Tiger’s former swing coach Hank Haney keeps the shots coming with his new book The Big Miss, painting Woods as a porn-addicted creep who coldly ignored little kids as they begged for his autograph. Nobody wants his autograph now. Or if they do, it’s not for the same reason as before.
Look at it this way, Tiger: You’re a talented, history-making golf vet, yet one with a zipper problem. It’s not bad. You should be happy. With Rory McIlroy dusting off your throne, you can now enjoy your empire of dirt, liberated to a libidinous life of queasy conquests. This means you can hover about greasy-spoon chains scribbling down the numbers of tanned, bleached-blonde bimbos in every Waffle House and IHOP from Fruit Cove to Fort Myers. And, brother, that’s ripe territory. John Daly has nothing on you.
Rory McIlroy is golf’s new Boy King. You may now fist-pump. Go nuts.
While Tiger was steely and rigid, Rory has a plucky charm. He’s affably awkward and goofy with a stoner kid curly mop begging to be mussed and a slightly upturned nose. That hair, though. Right?
Eric Davidson, an old friend, known criminal, and occasional sportswriter, says:
You could argue that most rivalries are media bullshit, but it has to exist on some level between those two. Tiger is hyper-competitive. Woods is a fallen star. It’s an episode of “Behind the Music” set to golf.
It is not entirely about a rivalry, imagined or not, between Woods and McIlroy. It’s about golf’s survival. Some will say McIlroy is just the latest media darling, a cash cow. But after years of dismal ratings and dull story lines, golf needs him. The top spot has bounced between a few players since the Woods scandal broke in late 2009. And in that time, the sport suffered and TV ratings plummeted. For broadcasters and golf fans, The McIlroy Machine means big business. McIlroy is a fresh breeze.
Rory certainly is a very worthy No. 1 golfer in the world. We have not had somebody play to the level of Tiger, and so we have four, five, six guys that are battling for the No. 1 spot, it seems, like monthly. I don’t know where it will all settle.
That top spot means top money. McIlroy’s off-course earnings were $5.9 million in 2011, according to Forbes. He earned $8.2 million on the course. On top of his major sponsor deals, McIlroy stands to bank a sizable bonus for reaching the top spot. That money should greatly increase throughout 2012.
But it’s about the big show, and right now that’s The Masters at Augusta, Georgia, starting April 2nd. The sports world will be watching. And out of all the watchers, writers, and 19th-hole barstool prophets, Ivan Little of The Belfast Telegraph has the earned and clear edge on his fellow Irishman:
[E]very golfing commentator in America has had their say, and although there were the odd begrudgers who reckoned Tiger Woods would soon be back in the driving seat, the writers were in the main raving about Rory.
Golf scribe Doug Ferguson says Rory is set to shine:
McIlroy has consistency and power, a lethal combination and there doesn’t appear to be any swing changes along the way.
Then there is McIlroy’s ease and connection with the gallery which, noted one reporter, “perhaps explains why one fan during the third round asked him what shampoo he used.”
Again, that hair.
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