Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Have a HUGE Mancrush on Tiger Woods

So how awesome was it coming home when I did today? FUCKING AWESOME. That's how awesome.

I left work early...get home, change my clothes and plop down and throw on the Golf Channel. So I see Tiger is 3 down against JB Holmes on the 14th tee and I'm thinking to myself, "fucking Tiger pussy ass motherfucker can't even beat this fucking asswipe from Kentuckah." He fucks up getting to the green and leaves himself a long ass putt...draino.

Eh, BFD. He's still 2 back and it's not like JB is playing bad golf or anything. I'm not the biggest JB fan in the world, I like how far he hits it, but he's just too...I dunno...Kentucky for me. Plus he plays SLOWWWWWWWWWWW. And he has his caddy line up his putts...what the fuck is this, the LPGA? Anyways, JB fucks up, so Tiger has a nice 2 putt to win the hole...draino in one.

Well now. What's this? FEEL THE EXCITEMENT. See, I watch any Tiger highlights on the Golf Channel because I wasn't into golf when those things originally happened. So I've seen all sorts of shit from his Amateur wins to his majors and all that crap, but it just wasn't the same. It's rare that you see Tiger turn in a vintage performance where he comes back to win a tight match. Now, it's all, "oh look, Tiger is up 12 strokes after 2 rounds...FUN."

WELL IT'S NOT FUCKING FUN OK? I don't like watching golf, the only untainted sport left, when all I get to hear is 2 straight days of Tiger-slobbing. But this? This is different. I remember watching Tiger's chip in at Augusta in 2005. I remember giving some dude updates on Tiger on the Saturday of his 2000 US Open win at Pebble Beach when I was working at a restaurant. I sure as hell remember him crying after he won his first major at Hoylake, his first since his dad had died. But, it's extremely rare to see him scrap and grind to beat the 64th best player in the World Rankings in the first round of a gimmicky tournament.

See, that's what separates Tiger Woods from the rest of the guys like Phil and Ernie. It's cliche'd to talk about Tiger's legendary 'competitiveness' and his 'will to win,' but that's only the case because it's so fucking true. What athlete is ALWAYS going to do that? MJ? Um...even MJ lost at some point. You can count the number of times Tiger has legitimately been beaten on one hand...and none of those guys were anything special.

Vijay Singh, and I will go to my grave saying this, is the only player who had the combination to really go toe to toe with Tiger Woods. I say 'had' because age finally caught up with the Fijian and he's just not the same player he was, but he still has that mentality. Phil? HAHAHAHAHA. The Deutsche Bank Championship doesn't count. Ernie? Maybe before he turned into the aquatic version of Kellen Winslow. And even Veej only beat Tiger during one of Tiger's swing changes, so there's a little asterisk next to that World No. 1 ranking.

Back to the WGC Accenture...We're on 16 now, and shit's getting tense. JB, once again, doesn't bang it close enough, then again, neither did El Tigre (that's Spanish for the Tigre) but this isn't Tiger playing. It's TIGER! Rawr.

So, let's recap right quick before we get to the goodies. 14. 20+ feet for a much needed 15. 2 putts from 30+ feet to win the hole...on putt plop. 16, another 20+ foot NECESSARY birdie, really, what do you expect? Draino.

This is the absolute shit. When have you seen a golfer drain 20+ foot putts when they absolutely need to otherwise they're going home? And it's not like he's sliding these in the side or anything, it's center cup, banged home, totally deliberate and true. So we go to 17.

At this point, 3 straight birds and the putter is white hot. So how can he top that? Howabout a 290 yard 5-wood 34 feet for eagle? Na, not good enough. Howabout a 34 foot eagle putt to take the lead and psychologically destroy your opponent. That'll do. The 18th was a formality, the match was over and you could tell, JB had it written all over his face.

I just can't comprehend how we were blessed to see such magnificence. There's all sorts of hyperbole all over the place about Tiger, and frankly, it gets to be too much really quickly. But when you watch the man's just a different story all together. Bill Simmons, as much as I hate him, once wrote a great article about how hard it is to write about Tiger, how it's just an exercise in fellatio because, really, what more can you say? He's just THAT good.

But when you catch something as amazing as we did this afternoon, it's hard to think about anything else. When you think of the all-time greats: MJ, Ali, Babe Ruth, Joe Montana, Pedro Ceranno; they all had their foibles that made them human. They exuded a spirit of determination and confidence that changed the definition of what a great athlete should be. But none were as singularly dominant as Tiger Woods in every single facet of the game.

I'm completely sober and lucid and I can't stop thinking about what I just saw. I've been thinking the same question to myself for the last hour, "when have I ever seen or read or heard anything close to this?" I can't answer that. You just cannot expect an athlete to ALWAYS come through in the clutch, to always get the hit or knock down the jumper, it's just not realistic.

But in Tiger's's different. You tell yourself it's over, that there's no way he can do it. It doesn't matter that he's batting .900 for his career in situations like that, you just can't expect it happen. No matter how many times he's done it in his lifetime, and how many times we've seen replays of said situations, you just don't see it coming, and when it does? It's fucking fantastic. It's scary. You hear of on/off switches in athletes all the time, but it's just fluff, except with Tiger.

You can't really say anything more than that. Everything about Tiger that can be said, has been at this point. He has such a cold, corporate personality in front of the cameras that you really don't get a feel for what he's like as a person. Sure there are a few clips of him being funny and there are stories of how cool a guy he is, but on the course he's a blank slate save for a fist pump and a roar. He is truly a robot programmed with banal responses and a Helen Keller-ish ability to not hear or see a thing other than the ball. He's as technical a golfer as there is, but he's also as creative and artistic as Seve Ballesteros. He has balls bigger than a bull's and a competitive streak that's simply not fun to experience. He's as good on a links course in howling winds as he is on a tricked-out US Open course with 6 inch rough. All this and he hasn't hit his peak yet. THAT'S SCARY.

What's even scarier is if you've ever played golf for yourself. When you struggle to break 90 on a muni, you think that at Oakmont during the 2007 US Open, he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation on greens that, if you don't hit it perfectly, you'll fall off into rough that looks like a crackhead's front yard after an entire spring of not mowing and you cry.

I have a complete and total mancrush on Tiger Woods, and I'm not afraid to admit it. He could endorse Swoosh-emblazoned, tin-foil wrapped toenail clippings and I'd buy a dozen. If you can't appreciate what this guy is doing right now, you're missing out on the greatest singular athlete of all time, regardless that he's a golfer. Fuck that, he's the single greatest COMPETITOR of all time, and that's not up for debate. MJ had his run, but not even he can touch what Tiger has done so far, and the fucked up thing, that I just can't get past, is that he's JUST now beginning to round into form. If you thought that his 2000 season, where he won 3 majors and held all 4 titles at one time was incredible, was stunning, the next 2 years are going to absolutely obliterate that.

Jump on the train now, it's good shit. Who knows, you might even want to pick up a club for yourself.

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