Will this spring break never end? I never thought I’d say it, but I might be ready to write papers again. I’m told I’ll be doing plenty of that in Oxford. I can only take so many days of lounging around and catching up on 30 Rock on Netflix before the days start to blur together. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the ability to jet off to Europe this weekend to stave off boredom. However, I had something even better than excessive travel to keep me busy: the Masters.
I know what you might be thinking, so I’ll just say it for you: “Hey, Shane, golf is boring.” Are you serious? This tournament is the most technologically keyed-in sporting event in the world. It’s how Stanford would run a major golf tournament if one was held on campus every year. The CBS/ESPN television coverage is limited to just four minutes of commercials per hour. The online coverage of the tournament this year allowed you to follow a specific pairing of golfers, focus on a specific hole or switch to the live television coverage — all for free. Why does no other sporting event do anything close to this awesome? It’s the 21st century. We should be able to watch any live event like this. You know, people like to complain about wealth disparity in America, but those 300 members of Augusta National Golf Club (who invariably own roughly 10 percent of this country’s wealth) know how to put on a damn good golf tournament for fans.
Oh and then there was this year’s tournament itself. If you have ever called golf boring, I hope you at least caught a little bit of the final round. This was pure entertainment. We got to watch the Rory McIlroy, the boy wonder from Northern Ireland, absolutely implode under pressure after leading the tournament for 54 holes. (Did anyone else know there were cabins just 50 yards off the fairway on the 10th until Rory’s errant tee shot?) We saw Charl Schwartzel (who?) come out of nowhere to grab the green jacket with one of the most beautiful rounds of golf in recent memory. But most importantly, for a long stretch on the front nine this past Sunday, we were all finally able to see that Tiger Woods is back.
I’m unabashed in my love for Tiger Woods. I’m certain that I wouldn’t love the game of golf as much as I do today if he didn’t absolutely destroy the field at Augusta in 1997 and send my little six-year-old brain spinning. I think a lot of people around my age can agree. He makes people care. He has this certain aura about him that makes anything seem possible on the golf course. When Tiger made the turn with a 31 on Sunday, most people weren’t thinking, “Oh my God, there’s almost ten golfers within two strokes of the lead at the Masters.” No, they were thinking, “DID YOU SEE WHAT TIGER JUST DID?” That’s a personal gift unheard of in sports. No single athlete can singlehandedly turn around an entire sport like Tiger. No Kobe or Lebron? The NBA would still exist. No Tom Brady or Peyton? Life in the NFL would still go on. Yet, if you take Tiger away from the game of golf, things don’t seem to matter quite as much anymore.
Unfortunately, golf did largely lose Tiger for the past 16 months. He’s been around, but his play has been a shell of what it used to be. You can chalk that up to his new swing or to his tumultuous personal life, but the game has suffered with his struggles. The public’s respect for Tiger crashed harder than his Escalade when news of his infidelity broke two Thanksgivings ago. The past year and a half couldn’t have been easy for Tiger, but this past Sunday was the indication that his greatness was still there. There were no jeers; just Tiger tearing up Augusta like the old days. He even broke out the long-dormant fist pump after his eagle on eight. He may not have won the thing, but he made you think he could. That’s what counts.
We at Stanford need to get behind Tiger. Like him or not, he’s one of us. I’m not saying that we should condone or forgive any of his actions, but as current occupants of the alma mater he loves and respects, we should support him in his path to rehabilitation. No one is perfect, but you get the sense that he really is trying to make up for past wrongs. Still have a problem with his personal life? Ignore it and love his contribution to the game. Just rewatch his approach on 15 from Sunday. Tiger is still the best of the best — and he’s one of our own here on the Farm.
If Tiger would like to thank Shane for the support, he can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.