This is the time of year we remember and recap the events of 2013. Every sport has its highlighted heroes, villains and champions. Golf is no exception. Tiger Woods was PGA TOUR’s Player of the Year. I suspect that will surprise many a casual fan of the sport. Why is that? He is the sport’s most recognized and discussed figure and has been that for over a decade. He can’t drive out his driveway and hit a garbage can without it being international news.
The answer is in how he had been framed. Though he won 5 notable tournaments, the media obsession was on whether he was going to win another “Major” this year. Since he did not, the not-so-subtle point is that he failed.
What is forgotten is the fact that 5 qualitative wins during 2013 is a special accomplishment. For many others, it is a career. He was first in money winnings on the Tour. He made the cut in all 16 PGA Tour events this year. Even the greatest golfers in history, Nicklaus included, missed the cut more frequently than Woods. And obviously no one could have been more consistent in that statistic this year. Tiger finished in the top 10 in half of those tournaments. And in 10 of those 16 events, Tiger finished in the top 25. Who else finished in the Top 25 65% of the time in 2013?
Yet for some reason, those who make a living from sports prefer to ignore these successes and frame him, figuratively speaking, as a failure. Setting the bar for him, and only him, at nearly an unprecedented level is unfair. No one who frames the issue that way will say they are a hater, but any distinction makes little difference.
Perhaps the animus comes simply from Mr. Woods being smartly aloof and sufficiently savvy to give little red meat for an appetite for Tiger negativity. Or perhaps his historic success just naturally breeds jealousy and stirs the desire to root for everyone else as the underdog. After all, Mr. Tiger has finished first on the PGA Tour 79 times during his career. Yes, 79 times. And oh ho-hum, he has won this same PGA Tour Player of the Year award 10 times before. The media could have made a big deal of the fact that this is his first such award since 2009. That trumpet may be objective but not very sensational.
So here’s to you, Mr. Woods for being the best on Tour in 2013. This congratulation is not from the collection golf pundits seeking profitability at your expense. At the risk of sounding overly pious, I’ll just say this fist bump is coming from a grain of sand on the expansive beach of media talk who simply prefers to give credit where it is due.
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