No matter what, the networks try like heck to keep Tiger Woods relavant…

At least someone is being objective in assessing Tiger Woods. That would be Tiger Woods. While network golf announcers continue to promote the former world number one golfer as something he’s not, Tiger pointed out yesterday, when his third place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship made him the first player in Tour history to claim $100 million in career winnings, that it was as much about the increase in purses as anything. “I haven’t won as many tournaments as Sam Snead”, he humbly pointed out. Still, his climb to 100 million has been incredible, considering by the time he became a full time player, in 1996, the all time money winner to that point was Greg Norman, with less than $10 million. Tiger has carved out an amazing legacy in 16 years, his presence alone the main contributing factor to those purse increases, but his once safe haven in golf is now under seige and #1 is a younger man’s domain. Rory McIlroy is now #1 in the world and, with his win at the Deutsche Bank, he’s passed Tiger as the favorite for the Player of the Year title. Each has three wins but Rory has a major, something that has eluded Tiger for four years, and a win in the Fed Ex Cup tournament. Still the commentators continue to protect Tiger’s status as a great human being, covering for his on course indiscretions while apologizing for an occasional errant epithet uttered by those of lesser status and accomplishment, Dan Hicks apologizing for what may or may not have been picked up from Charley Hoffman on a live microphone yesterday. “He can make this 19 under in a hurry”, gushed Johnny Miller as Tiger stepped over his approach to the final hole, needing an eagle to do so, three strokes behind McIlroy, “And if Rory can fall back on eighteen, Tiger’s right there.” So it goes, under network orders to keep Tiger in the mix, even if you have to make it up. But you can’t blame it on Tiger. All he’s doing is his part to make this one of the most exciting and memorable months in golf history. August ended with the first round of the second event of the Fed Ex Cup tournament and September opened with the cut to the 70 golfers who will play the final two events, Hoffman taking it right to his last stroke on the last hole to earn the last berth. Phil Mickelson finished fourth, behind Tiger, suddenly getting the hang of that new “claw hook” putting stroke he says he’s fallen in love with and coming in 14 under par. Tiger’s back in form, Phil looks more ready every week, but the world of golf now belongs to the youth from across the pond, McIlroy and yesterday’s runner up Louis Oosthiezen, ready to lead the European team when they get to Medina at the end of September to face an American team led by the players who have to lead them, Tiger and Phil, both playing with rejuvinated games. This promises to be one of the most competitive Ryder Cups of all time. With one weekend off in the middle of the month to catch our breath we approach three weekends of high octane, high intensity golf, the final two Fed Ex Cup events followed by the Ryder Cup. What would make for a perfect month of golf is if the network talking heads stop inventing scripts and let the drama write itself. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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