Philadelphia, PA – Call me biased, but I want Tiger Woods to pick up his sixth career win at Muirfield Village this weekend. Then I want him to secure his 15th major title at Merion Golf Club in June. Heck, I hope he reaches Jack's record of 18 majors within 12 months.
The argument here isn't for Tiger Woods the individual, it's for the historical greatness he represents.
People root against Tiger for a number of legitimate reasons, from his questionable on-course etiquette to his numerous extramarital affairs. But they also root against him because he is the best and most prominent golfer competing today.
It's human nature. If someone reaches heights of unusual dominance or success, the average observer wants to tear them down. If a person doesn't have a rooting interest between two teams, he or she will typically pull for the underdog. Tiger is Duke Basketball. He is the American Empire. People want to see him fall.
I get it. It's easy to hate the best. And it's fun. But in the case of Tiger Woods, I want him to win. I want to witness greatness.
I grew up hearing lofty tales about the legend of Nicklaus, Walter Hagen, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones, or about the heroics of Ben Hogan, who came back from a near-fatal car crash and won the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion in an 18-hole playoff. Jeez. How could anyone competing in my lifetime live up to that standard?
Win. That's how. When you don't have the advantage of watching an athlete in his prime, you are forced to judge him by statistics and hyperbolic first- hand accounts. Tiger is just four majors away from tying Jack's record and four PGA Tour wins away from Snead's all-time mark of 82. Already considered one of the greats, which is rare for someone still competing regularly, he can cement his legacy by surpassing those milestones.
I feel privileged to witness the career arc of a Tiger Woods or a LeBron James while in my sports-viewing days, to have legends of my own, not only for the sheer entertainment value but also because through them I can better understand the greats of the past. I can see now that even the immortals have off rounds, bad games, public scandals and humiliations.
But for my greats to legitimize their status, they have to keep winning. For the sake of the past, present and future. For the sake of hyperbole and self- important Tee to Green columns. For the sake of the record books. Just keep winning.
TIGER PLAYS MERION
Woods played Merion in Ardmore, Pa., on Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming U.S. Open.
The world No. 1 didn't play a full round, but he hit a few shots off the tees and putted to areas he though the pins would be.
I'm told he thought the par-3s were brutal, although he did carry the quarry and drop a 3-iron within 10 feet on the 246-yard 17th.
LET'S MOVE ON
Woods spoke to Golf Channel this week at the Memorial Tournament about Sergio Garcia's racially insensitive fried chicken remark and did his best to put the issue to bed, saying, "It's already done with. It's time to move on."
Tiger is right. I covered this issue at length in my previous column. Garcia's remark was not only blatantly racist, it was also lazy and unfunny. But what else would we expect from Sergio?