Watching history unfold
It should have been dull to watch Tiger Woods thoroughly dominate yesterday en route to his 12th major, this the PGA Championship at the Funky Cold Medinah. It should have been boring to see him move from being tied with Luke Donald before teeing off to a five-stroke lead, as contenders like Donald, Mike Weir, Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott crumbled.
But it wasn’t.
Watching someone like Tiger is astonishing. At least four times I watched him hit a shot I couldn’t believe was good – an 8-iron from the deep rough, launched 180 yards onto the green; a 45-foot putt that looked sadly offline, rattling down into the cup, and so on. I can’t imagine what competitive golf is like on any level, but there was a pre-tournament interview with most of the competition, all of whom presupposed that Woods would shoot 3 or 4-under, so they needed to be that much better to compete. That’s not revolutionary, and most of them would likely state that this is how they approach any tournament on Sunday when they aren’t leading, but the subsequent collapse of anyone close to Woods was striking. Conditions were just fine out there – people knocked iron shots close, there was no wind or weather to speak of…and yet, it wasn’t ever close.
Some people like rooting against Woods – when this started, I can’t help but think some of this was latent racism, but now I think it’s simply that people root against the favorite, much like I hate it when the Yankees win. But with Tiger, it’s something different. My children will ask me about Tiger Woods, in the way they’ll ask me about Michael Jordan and the way I asked my father about Mickey Mantle or Hank Aaron. I love to watch history being made, and for my money, there’s no better outcome in a major than Tiger winning – because every time he does it, it is fascinating and compelling to watch.