Since that fateful November night in 2009 Tiger Woods has lost more money than most people make in a lifetime. In addition to the millions of dollars in endorsements, he lost his wife and full time custody of his children. However, the biggest loss was probably to his image. He’s now considered one of the least liked athletes according to a recent survey and his q-rating (which is used to measure marketing appeal) is at an all time low. But even having lost all of that, the sport of golf has lost more. It lost Tiger Woods, the most dominate player in a generation.
Today in Abu Dhabi, Martin Kaymer shot a 6 under par 66 to displace Tiger Woods as the #2 golfer in the world. Who the heck is Martin Kaymer? Did you even know Martin Kaymer played golf? Does Martin Kaymer make you want to get up at ungodly hours to watch him play the back 9 in the early rounds of the British Open? Does Lee Westwood (the world’s current #1 ranked golfer) make you want to move your Easter dinner so that you can be sure to catch the last few holes of the Masters? No, but Tiger does.
Tiger Woods has meant more to golf than any other person in any one sport. He makes people want to watch golf. That’s not an easy feat. Watching men walk around for hours hitting a ball that you can’t even see off the tee isn’t exactly interesting to the casual fan. But somehow through his years of dominance, Tiger made it interesting. Even in 2010, when he didn’t register a win people watched. They wondered if the master of focus would show weakness in the face of adversity. Quite frankly, I think as many people rooted for him to break down as they did for him to overcome it all and win. As he gears up for his first rounds of the season (at Torrey Pines where he’s been dominant in the past) everyone wonders, can he regroup and do it again? Will this be the year of his resurgence? Will he be able to bounce back and once again challenge Jack Nicklaus for the most number of major championships?
For golf’s sake, he has to.