Greason: Woods should be held to same standard as everyone else
Elizabeth Greason | Thursday, October 13, 2016
Life is tough when you’re Tiger Woods.
As facetious as that may sound, in most respects, it is a true statement. Yes, Woods is one of the most accomplished golfers in the history of the sport. Yes, Woods is a multi-millionaire, one of the wealthiest athletes of all time. And yes, despite his various off-the-course exploits, Woods still has a massive fan base.
But that doesn’t mean Woods’ life is easy in the slightest. The injury-plagued golfer has lived under a microscope for his entire career — even more so since his personal life began making headlines in 2009.
As the premier golfer of his generation, the world has incredibly high expectations for Woods. There is a large subset of fans that would consider anything less than a top-25 finish in Woods’ first event back since August 2015 a failure, as unrealistic and unfair as that expectation may be.
At the peak of his career, it was fair to consider Woods to be on the verge of superhuman. I mean, the man played an extra 18 holes in the 2008 U.S. Open in a Monday playoff with a leg that was so badly broken his caddy could hear Woods moving. And he won. But Woods’ injuries and long recovery times should force his fans to recall that Woods is, in fact, human. An extremely strong and talented human, but a fallible human nonetheless.
Tiger Woods should be held to the same standards as everyone else. He should not be expected to fire four consecutive rounds of 5-under par in his first event in 15 months. For Tiger’s return, a victory will not result in him holding a trophy on Sunday evening, but simply in him making the cut on Friday.
Here’s the problem with this, though. Contrary to what Woods announced last Friday, we do not know when this long-awaited return will be occurring. Because three days after Woods announced he would be competing in this weekend’s Safeway Open, he withdrew. Woods pulled out of the Safeway Open, not because he suffered any sort of setback in his rehab, but because he did not feel his game was quite where it needed to be to compete.
I fully believe that Tiger Woods should be subject to the same expectations as his peers. But, for me, that means both on and off the course. Woods’ behavior in pulling out of the Safeway Open simply is not up to par with what is expected of everyone else on the PGA Tour. If other top names like Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy pulled out of an event three days after confirming they would be teeing it up, for no reason other than their game was not as strong as it could be, the uproar would be massive.
And that’s what Tiger deserves as well.
The fact that Woods’ game is vulnerable is no excuse for him to not play, especially after making a commitment. A commitment to the tour, to the fans, to the tournament organizers. And all of those parties deserve for that commitment to be upheld.
So, Tiger’s 180-degree turnaround on the state of his game is not something that should allow him to bend the rules. Since his game is one of the most heavily scrutinized aspects of golf today, his actions should be looked at in the same manner. Whether Woods is nervous about making his comeback, feels he cannot meet the lofty expectations so many have for him, or truly feels that his game regressed between Friday and Monday, Woods is supposed to be role model and will inevitably return to being the face of the game the moment he steps onto a PGA Tour tee box. It was wrong of Woods to withdraw from the Safeway Open. By doing so, he let quite a few parties, as well as himself, down.
People care about Tiger Woods. He makes the PGA Tour relevant. Tiger is good for the game of golf. But Tiger Woods would be a whole lot better for golf if he lived up to the simple standards to which his peers are also held.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.