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Dwindling talent, swelling attitude

Joe Wirth | Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In case you have not heard, Tiger Woods is back – or so the “experts” say. They also said he was “back” after he took the lead in the final round of last year’s Masters (and then proceeded to choke it away.) He was also “back” after he won the Chevron Challenge in December with a whopping 17 other players in the field.

Now experts claim he is back after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, which only had two of the world’s top 10 players in the field.

I understand that Tiger Woods is one of the few athletes who can transcend sports and bring in an entirely different audience to the game so he gets more hype both from the sports world and from the general media, but with this win, he now has as many wins on tour this year as George McNeil, yes, the George McNeil.

So before everyone starts penciling him in as the Masters’ favorite, let’s try to remember that there are other players with names like McIlroy, Mickelson and Westwood who have had much stronger years to this point and who have much stronger major track records in recent seasons.

The fact is, Tiger Woods will never be fully “back,” and sports fans have to accept that. He will never be the Tiger Woods of 2000 again. Heck, he will never be even the Tiger Woods of 2007 again. Long gone are the days of Tiger routing fields by ten strokes. At this stage of his career Tiger is what he is – a top 15 player who will win a few tournaments a year with maybe the occasional major. To think he will be as dominant as he once was is foolish. Tiger is 36 years old and, after multiple surgeries on his knee and Achilles tendon, he is an old 36, and time is catching up.

Tiger’s golf game may never come back, but, unfortunately, his whining and temper tantrums on the course seem to be in full swing. Even in winning last week, anytime his shot was just slightly off, he would complain as if the “Golf Gods” were out to get him – it was never his fault. Instead of tipping his hat to the gallery after a shot, he is generally cursing that the shot was not better.

Some call that his competitive fire, I call it unprofessional.

Tiger is consistently curt with media and his playing partners, and, despite their undying support, he shows little to no recognition of his fans. Tiger’s overall disregard for golf etiquette is embarrassing and off-putting.

Do not get me wrong, I respect Tiger’s talent, but that is about all I respect about the man. Golf is traditionally the ultimate gentleman’s sport, and Tiger certainly is no gentleman.

Contact Joe Wirth [email protected]

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.