As the entire golfing world heralds a new era, one in which Rory McIlroy is predicted to conquer all in front of him, and talk is of when, not if, he overhauls Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in the all time major winners list, I’m turning my attention to the one man, who made it all possible.
As Tiger Woods, the 35 year old 14 time major winner, is discourteously cast aside to the category of “has been”, I can’t help but think he’s become a victim of the revolution he started.
John Lennon is credited with the quote “Before anyone did anything, Elvis did everything” and without disrespecting those who came before him, I feel the same applies to Tiger Woods.
The current holders of the four majors are all under 29, and golf’s ever increasing focus on fitness and strength must be accredited at least in part to Tiger’s dominance. While driving distances on the US PGA have actually decreased somewhat in recent years, this is in part due to the layout of the courses rather than the golfers’ abilities. It is fair to say the average golfer is becoming increasing focussed on fitness, and, while not wishing to get into the whole obesity epidemic debate, if can only be positive for young people to see their heroes in peak condition, rather than out of shape, as was once a common sight on the professional tour.
With even stars in “sports” such as snooker beginning to see the positive effects of being in prime physical condition, there are few activities remaining where participants don’t feel being fit is at least an advantage.
Tiger has spoken at length in the past about his gym routine, and in the current era, players like John Daly, Cigar- smoking Darren Clarke, and Craig “The Walrus” Stadler, the 5 10” 250 (ish) lbs American who shot 80 in the first round of the Masters earlier this year, are exceptions to the norm.
Tiger’s arrival and subsequent conquering of the golf world has forced everyone else to up their game. At the same time, he has increased the game’s profile across the world and it is also interesting to note the current major holders all hail from outside the US. By taking golf from beyond the preserve of the WASP country club elite, Tiger has inspired those who now seek to dethrone him.