June 22, 2008

Who was that guy in the US Open play off with Tiger…?

Let me get this straight…

Rocco Mediate forced Tiger to play one of his greatest tournaments ever, simply because he refused to roll over and play dead during the 18-hole play-off. However, if you watched the broadcast, it seemed that Tiger was playing against nobody as the TV commentators almost forgot to even mention Rocco during the broadcast in their haste to continue bloviating about Tiger. At least Woods did the right thing during the awards ceremony by praising Mediate.

However, a few days later, Tiger off-handedly mentions that he’s taking the rest of the season off to have some things fixed, such as torn ligament (ACL) in his left knee that he injured 10 months ago and a double stress fracture of his left tibia two weeks before the US Open.

It will be the third surgery in five years on his left knee, although Woods said doctors have assured him the outlook is positive.

Ok, while it was good that he didn’t mention it earlier, like during the awards ceremony, I still cannot help but to feel sorry for Rocco as you know the pundits will squawk that he was only able to keep up with Tiger due to injuries which would have side-lined any mere mortal.

I get aggravated with people, especially the media, who make Tiger Woods out to be the second coming or something. Look, he’s a great player, maybe the greatest who ever lived, but there are still other players out there too and to denigrate them by implying they’re only fodder for Tiger Inc does everybody a disservice.

Need proof?

During the play-off, the announcers practically fell over themselves in an effort to promote Tiger. It was mostly "Tiger is one stroke behind" and hardly ever "Rocco leads by one."

Ok…onwards. The recovery time for ACL surgery is typically six to eight months and, providing there are no other complications, which is always a risk, Tiger should be back terrorizing the fairways next season.

So, what does this mean for the world of golf?

A lot of the "second-tier" superstars like Mickelson, Garcia, Els, etc., will now have clear sailing to grab as much silverware as they possibly can before the end of the year, but more importantly, it will give them a chance to build up their confidence levels so when Tiger does return they can try and face him down.

Also, I don’t think any of the remaining Major’s will suffer much due to the amazing depth of talent out there who will be able to really show what they’ve got without all the roars every time Tiger makes a putt.

In addition, some lucky player will get onto the US Ryder Cup team who might not have done so before.

This is where I think we will see a big surprise because I feel the US Team is stronger without Tiger Woods than with him and I have said this many times before. Let’s be honest, his Ryder Cup record is pretty poor and the US hasn’t won the Cup in how many years?

Look when you have a huge weapon like Woods, you tend to over-rely on him and that is a problem, especially as the Europeans aren’t intimidated. They admire and respect Woods for sure, but they’re not gonna roll over and play dead like the US players on the Tour do.

Another problem is finding him a partner who can co-exist alongside him…maybe Rocco Mediate could do it.

I think the only people who will suffer from a Tiger-less season on the US Tour are the television stations as the sponsors will be less than thrilled with the ratings, unless another player steps up and takes over and there are guys who can do it.

However, like I said, a Tiger-less season isn’t necessarily a tragedy because many younger kids, and even some older veterans will have the opportunity to win something and the announcers will have to learn to pronounce other player’s names correctly again.

But, they will also have to keep one thought in the back of their minds, namely that Hank Haney predicts "Tiger will come back better than he's ever been."

That thought alone should keep Els and Mickelson up at night…

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