To Not Know Him Is to Love Him
When the Masters begins this week, we know what to expect from
Why? Lore has it that ever since a 1997
But I for one don't want to embrace him. Rather, I think Tiger's aloofness is precisely why he is so much fun to watch. Because we get so little from Woods, we can focus solely on his performance. I don't want Tiger to drain a huge putt and then, 30 minutes later, send out a tweet saying: OMG, WAS SOOOO NERVOUS ON THAT ONE!!! Instead, give me Tiger in the moment, cursing at his clubs, roaring in triumph or sulking like a man who cannot,
Think about it. When we talk about
He's almost like an old-time movie star, one we see only in character. Even his ads stay on message. Rather than Tiger at home, goofing with the family, we see Tiger the Competitor, nailing a 50-foot chip shot, or Tiger the Sports Messiah, walking on water. It only increases the distance between him and us. Hell, his mystique is such that during the AT&T National in 2007, he sparked a round of applause when he stepped out of a portable toilet on the course, as if he'd just peed excellence.
Sure there is a trade-off. Word is that Woods is actually a pretty funny guy among friends -- when his buddy
Tiger remains first and foremost a competitor. A month ago, when he returned from knee surgery to play in the Accenture Match Play tournament, I watched as most of the Houston Rockets gathered around a small ceiling-mounted TV after practice to watch, gazing up as if Woods were
Of course this isn't true, but it feels that way, doesn't it? And whereas MJ played a team sport, in which chemistry is paramount -- meaning he had no choice but to relate to people -- Woods doesn't, and so... he doesn't. Think this doesn't give him an advantage over his competitors? Who are you going to fear more: the affable, talented golfer who is everybody's pal, or the aloof one who can seem like a golf cyborg -- the Birdienator 2000? (What's more, on the occasions that Tiger does become emotional, like after sinking a ridiculous putt or when he hugged his father after winning his first Masters, it is all the more powerful.)
Take it from a man well-versed in the psyche of the killer competitor: Jordan's longtime agent,
And, if you ask me, it's the only reason we need to watch.