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Don’t mess with Tiger

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Last week, I caught myself watching the Denny’s PBA Tour presented by Geico. That’s when I realized how desperate things were. The sports world had reached its absolute nadir. Little did I know, March Madness would come to my rescue a few weeks early.

For those of you who don’t know, the Accenture World Golf Championships is either the PGA tour’s version of March Madness or its attempt to get viewers to pay attention to their sport at any time other than the four majors. Both definitions work.

Basically, it’s a straight rip-off of the NCAA tournament. Sixty-four golfers, four brackets, six wins gets you the title. Now, of all the matches, I was obviously going to pay the most attention to any involving Tiger Woods.

His first round opponent: Stephen Ames. Now, I didn’t know much about Stephen Ames before this article, so, being an aspiring journalist, I did a little research.

World Ranking: Tiger Woods, 1; Stephen Ames, 65. 2006 Earnings: Woods, $918,000; Ames, $14,178. Number of ridiculously hot Swedish wives: Woods, 1; Ames, 0.

I mean, we’re talking about the mismatch of the century here. If we put this into NCAA terms, it would be equivalent to Northeast Central Arkansas State A&M vs. Duke.

So Ames did what any logical, obviously overmatched underdog would have done in his situation. He insulted his opponent. To directly quote the wise Stephen Ames, “Anything can happen. Especially where [Tiger’s] hitting the ball.”

Did Ames even realize what he was saying? Did he forget that he was matched up with the Tiger Woods, not only the best golfer of his era, but possibly of all time? To even possibly comprehend the magnitude of Ames’s statement, it was like the coach of the aforementioned Northeast Arkansas team saying he thinks his team will beat Duke because J.J. Reddick will be shooting a lot of 3 pointers.

By this point, I was captivated. How would the maniacally competitive Tiger Woods, who also happened to own a 21-4 career record in match play, respond to the… well, challenge offered to him by Ames?

Responding in his typical fashion, Woods didn’t merely defeat Ames, he annihilated him. Woods etched his name yet again into golf’s record books by defeating Ames 9 & 8. This was as early as mathematically possible to defeat an opponent in match play and a feat that had never previously been accomplished.

Asked if Ames’ comments motivated him, Woods responded, “Yes.” Asked if he cared to elaborate, Woods replied with a smile, “No.” Well Stephen, let me elaborate for you on Tiger’s behalf. After you made those comments, you had about as much chance of winning as Notre Dame down by 1 with 20 seconds to play.

Before I get carried away, however, I would like to personally thank Stephen Ames. He brightened up the always boring sports month of February, and by creating the PGA tour’s own version of a reality tv show, he helped spread the madness of march a few weeks early.