Golf still needs Tiger

February 10, 2012, 6:43 pm
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Editor's Note: Follow Tiger Woods' Friday round with the Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker feature. We'll have full coverage tonight on SportsNet Central at 6, 10:30 and midnight.

Golf really must be a boring sport.

Because there seems to be only one thing to talk about.

Tiger Woods. Still, after all these years.

Has the world of golf gone on for the past two years? Have new faces emerged? Have tournaments been won?

Yes. But no one has apparently been interesting enough to puncture the fixation on Woods. Thats a sad commentary on the sport. What if, after Eli Manning won the Super Bowl, the main response was, Yeah, yeah, but whats Brett Favre up to?

Golfs entire focus seems to remain on a man who isnt ranked in the top-10, who hasnt won a legitimate tournament in more than two years, whose single most interesting single as a celebrity was running into a fire hydrant. Do the fans like him? Are they shouting encouragement? Has robo-golfer cracked a smile? Is he unhappy with the pace of the rounds? Will he be nice to Bill Murray?

The preposterous reaction to Woods was most noticeable last December when Woods won something called the Chevron World Challenge, and the response was as if hed just come from five back on the final day to win the Masters.

The Chevron World Challenge is a non-official 18-man tournament established as a charity fund-raiser by Woods himself. Its not a PGA Tour event, not exactly a significant event. Yet Woods ability to prevail in that outing in December created a chorus of plaid-panted angels singing hallelujahs, a tally of how long it had been since Woods had won anything besides the Befuddled Texter award and generated phrases such as the win will likely send expectations soaring for 2012.

Here we are in 2012 and the fawning is in full force. Woods has deigned to play in the AT&T, a tournament he shunned for a decade -- he usually shuns it for his big payday in Dubai. Hes paired with Tony Romo -- just two athletes who just cant seem to get it done in crunch time these days.

On Thursday in his first round, he shot a four-under at Spyglass and the angels started to sing again. Has there ever been such a chorus for a tie for 15th?

More than a decade ago, Woods was the most interesting thing in golf. He was supposed to change the sport, with his athleticism and diversity. But instead he seems to have created a singular obsession among golf fans and writers: all Tiger, all the time. Even after a winless two years.

Instead of making the sport more interesting, he seems to have made it one-dimensional.

Woods made other golfers very rich. He made golf media feel important and golf-related jobs more prominent. There are a lot of people invested in him doing something more than flailing about on the golf course and having a high profile divorce. Theres a sense of an industry waiting for Woods to rescue it, Rory McIlroy be damned.

Thats more than a little tedious.

Woods and Romo play again today on the Monterey Peninsula Course. If you hear hallelujahs echoing on the winds blowing up from the south, youll know Woods shot another decent round. And the one-note story will continue.
Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.