Now that we are clearly in the early days of the Rory McIlroy golf era, we can look back at the Tiger Woods era with clear eyes.
Final judgement: A pretty good career, well above journeyman level, but far short of “great” (a very overused word these days).
Numerically, Woods posted good numbers. However, just like Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods’s numbers are tainted. Visits from Anthony Galea (doping doctor extraordinaire, and about whom Woods lied) and Biogenesis connections leave little doubt that Woods’s advantage over his peers was the use of PEDs.
And Tim Finchem is probably the most corrupt commissioner in all of sports. That’s saying something when we consider how Roger Goodell has tried to cover up domestic abuse in the NFL, and how Bud Selig ignored PED use in baseball. Knowing that dishonesty is rampant at the commissioner level in other sports, is there any doubt that Finchem would cover up or turn a blind eye to connections between Tiger Woods and PEDs?
When it comes to legacy, remember this: Baseball fans still talk about Babe Ruth. Bobby Bonds is already an asterisked footnote.
Woods won many tournaments, and we can assume he would have won some number of them without PEDs, so it would be far-fetched to say Woods would have struggled to keep his PGA Tour card. I think Woods would have had a career much like, say, Charles Howell III or Hunter Mahan. Very respectable.
Why was there such a disconnect between the reality and the perception regarding Tiger Woods’s career? Let’s put it this way: The only part of Woods’s career that was not overhyped was the hype.
Woods will be long-remembered as the most overhyped sportsman in history.
For social and political reasons, Tiger Woods always received more attention than deserved. We also live in an age of declining IQ scores in America. It’s very easy to become a “megastar” nowadays. Compare the big stars of Woods’s day with Jack Nicklaus’s. Jack’s peers were Muhammad Ali and the Beatles and and Secretariat. Woods’s were Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila and YouTube cat videos. Jack shared the stage with Kareem Abdul Jabbar of the L.A. Lakers, Woods with Paula Abdul of American Idol. “Famous for being famous” is the buzz phrase of the 21st century. Deserving of fame? Who cares!
As we wrote yesterday, there is reason to believe things are changing. Rory McIlroy is aiming to win the Grand Slam. Instead of inventing a “Rory Slam” to try to gain fame dishonestly, Rory is grabbing the bull by the horns.
I am elated that golf once again has a hero who is… heroic.