Remembering the more ambitious quotes from the early days of the tiger era.
“Assuming Tiger continues on his current track, the money will be monumental. He’ll be wealthy as soon as he turns pro. The guaranteed endorsements and appearance money will make him the equivalent of a No.1 pick in an NBA or NFL draft. But is he also going to be a great player? Truly, there is no way of knowing. The best teenage golfers do not automatically dominate the sport as adults. Golf is not tennis.” – Frank Hannigan, 1993
“Tiger probably has the talent to reach his long-term goal of being the best ever, if his health and motivation hold up: two monumental ifs.” – Nick Seitz, 1996
“He’s not going to burn out because Tiger plays for his own joy and passion.” – Jay Brunza, 1996
“Tiger is going to be the leading golfer not only in America, but worldwide, for years to come, and with his mixed-racial background, he has a lot of extra weight on his slender shoulders. A lot of people are going to want to jump on his bandwagon and use him to promote their own agendas. I hope we can let him be a golfer first and see what he does with his talents… Learning to say ‘no’ graciously may be his greatest challenge.” – Tom Watson, 1997
“What amuses me is how all these people who play golf want to endlessly speculate on how Tiger Woods’ race will change the culture of the sport while I am more intrigued by the possibility that his talent will, perforce, change the nature of the sport… If Tiger should win another Major this year, outdriving mortals as easily as he did at the Masters, I suspect that we will stop hearing: Will Tiger Woods save golf? Instead, we will hear: Can golf be saved from Tiger Woods?”– Frank Deford, 1997
“Tiger’s mentality may have the greatest influence on other tour players’ approaches to the game. More players are going to go out to win tournaments now, instead of just trying to finish in the top 10… I’m afraid, however, there is a detrimental effect to Tiger’s influence: kids being given too much instruction at too young an age… Tiger was an exceptional case. Teachers, coaches and parents all need to keep that in mind.” – Chuck Cook, 1997
“I don’t necessarily believe Tiger changes the entire landscape of golf… Proficiency winds up being a byproduct of not just talent and commitment, but also economics, opportunity and space, and Tiger’s not going to be able to change all that. Nobody’s looking to build a golf course in the middle of Watts or Harlem or South Philly or any of the other urban areas that are so often ignored by those who have taken flight. Maybe one day that will all change, but probably not in Tiger’s lifetime, and surely not while so many other basic needs are going unaddressed. I hope I’m wrong.” – Bryant Gumbel, 1997
“Woods may be an important catalyst for change. He will not have caused it on his own… I will guess that the authorities of the game will bring into play a championship ball. It will be perhaps a slightly lighter ball – no change in size. It will have an old-fashioned dimple pattern so that it is more affected by the wind, the way balls of the 1940s were. The championship ball will be much more difficult to manage over long distances. Yardage will not be as important as the air. Caddies will have to do more. Tiger Woods will be even more effective than he is now, for he stands out as an iron player, and unless I miss my guess, he will adapt more quickly to something new than most others. The authorities of the game could do well to recruit his participation in the planning and design of something as important to the overall game as a new ball. He will be a leader of men and women and all who play and follow the game. Good thing, too. A star came out of the East, etc.”– Peter Thomson, 1997
“Probably [Tiger will be a great player]. If greatness is defined as winning at least eight Majors, 30 other tour events and being leading money-winner three or four times. In other words, a Tom Watson.”– Frank Hannigan, 1997
Despite all the magazine covers and elaborate stories, not enough has been made of the fact Tiger Woods has killed golf.
Tiger Woods has killed golf for – what, I don’t know – 10 years? Fifteen?
You could argue that this is a good thing, killing golf. Maybe golf needed to be killed for a while.
I mean, corporate sponsors plastering their logos on top of logos. Hospitality tents looking like urban renewal. Berthas swelling up larger than frozen turkeys. Life being discovered on Titanium, the lost continent. Various sportswriters and television announcers acting like it’s really exciting that Scott Hoch wins a golf tournament.
But all that’s over, isn’t it?
Tiger Woods is the only thing that matters.
If your corporate logo isn’t stitched on Tiger Woods somewhere, it’s cat food. If Tiger Woods doesn’t drop by your hospitality tent, it’s just you and a throng of shirt salesmen swarming around the pigs in a blanket.
Think about it. Practically overnight, John Daly has become set decoration.
Go to an event on the PGA Tour these days, what do you see?
I’ll tell you what you see. You see 32,476 howling, whooping fans tromping after Tiger Woods. Meanwhile, eight people follow everybody else.
Well, eight if the player has
a name. Two if he has a wife and cousin.
Fred Couples finally gets his wish. People leave him alone now.
Tiger Woods wins a tournament before it starts. He wins it by hitting a smooth, effortless 6-iron 263 yards over the tallest row of pines in North America and landing it safely on a green the size of a throw rug that’s surrounded by a moat filled with 8,000 irritable alligators.
Then he wins the tournament again by frequently posting the lowest score. Not that it matters.
“I saw Tiger drive it 385 on the third hole.”
“Oh? Well, I saw him drive it 410 at the fifth.”
“No. Into the wind.”
“He reached the eighth green in two, you know.”
“Really? The 640-yard par 5?”
“Yeah. Driver, 9-iron. Four feet.”
“He was on the front edge at the 11th with a 2-iron.”
“That the 280-yard par 3?”
“No, the 320-yard par 4 – uphill.”
“So, who’s winning? Seen a leaderboard lately?”
“I don’t know. Mark Norman, Fred O’Meara. One of those.”
“I thought it was Phil O’Meara.”
“It is. I mean Fred Pavin.”
“Tiger should have won.”
“I know. Take away the 12 he made at 15, he wins by six.”
“He went for it, though. Gotta hand it to him.”
“Darn right. Nobody else would try a 437-yard carry over the quarry.”
“Nope. Not with a 3-iron.”
“Watched him on the practice green this morning. I counted
14 straight chip-ins from about
“He’s deadly when he chips with the 3-wood, of course.”
“That was with the 7-iron. He made 25 in a row with the 3-wood.”
It came as a total shock when Tiger Woods killed golf last year. We all thought he might bruise it a little, the way Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan and Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus once had.
But nobody was prepared for him to win the Tiger Slam. This was impossible, incomprehensible. Not only that, the Tiger Slam hadn’t even been thought up. Who would have thought it up, anyhow?
How could anyone conceive of winning the NCAA, the US Amateur, and two of those Rancho Corporate Invitationals on the PGA Tour, all in the same year, or all in the span of five months, actually?
Bobby Jones never thought up a Tiger Slam. He could only think up a Grand Slam. Ben Hogan never thought up a Tiger Slam. He could only think up a Triple Crown.
It was one thing to have all of his potential, but it was quite another thing to use it to win. And by winning, Tiger laid bare the ordinary cupboard of talent around him.
Follow me a moment.
When Byron Nelson almost killed golf, it survived because the game still had Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum, Tommy Bolt and Cary Middlecoff.
When Arnold Palmer almost killed golf, it survived because the game still had Gary Player, Ken Venturi, Billy Casper and Gene Littler.
When Jack Nicklaus almost killed golf, it survived because the game still had Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, not to overlook Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson, who soon came along. OK, Jack did kill Bruce Crampton, but that was hardly an occasion for national mourning.
Today, however, if you want to talk about serious talent, a young player with the awesome ability of Tiger Woods appears to be surrounded by a barren wasteland.
You look around and who, what?
Greg Lehman is gonna sell a clubhouse badge? Fred Pavin is gonna go for it over the lake in two? Phil O’Meara is gonna outhit John Daly? For that matter, John Daly’s gonna keep the same name?
Here’s my prediction: golf stays dead until 2007. That’s when Big Stripe Woods, the phenomenal 14-year-old alien with a frozen turkey for a head and titanium legs, arrives from the planet Callaway, from a galaxy far, far away, to duplicate the Tiger Slam. – Dan Jenkins, March 1997
“Civilisation has a history of being unkind to genius, especially if it’s bankable. The young man has a personality every bit the measure of his colossal talent. I doubt he will let us down; long-term, it’s the other way around that I fear.” – Michael M. Thomas, 1997
“For those who think Jack’s record of 20 Majors [you count the amateurs after a guy wins his first pro Major] is unbreakable, think again. Tiger’s got a game like nobody else, ever. It’s all up to whether he avoids injury and stays motivated.” – Dan Jenkins, 2000
“Phil wants to be No.1, and Phil is probably the last guy in the world who Tiger wants to slip by him to be No.1. I doubt it will ever happen, because as good as Phil is, he’s not as good as Tiger. That’s no secret. No one is.”– Mark Calcavecchia, 2002
“Tiger reached a new level [at the 2006 Open Championship] at Hoylake. He controlled the ball beautifully and showed great maturity in his management. His short game and putting continue to be amazing. I kept improving into my 30s, and I expect Tiger is going to do the same. Will he break my record? It certainly looks like he will.” – Jack Nicklaus, 2006