Golf no longer needs Tiger Woods

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Tiger WoodsTiger Woods created the biggest yawn of the international sporting weekend, he’s coming back. Or is it fallback?

Woods released the news on his website – the European tour picked it up, but not the USPGA site, they didn’t bother – which is a sign of the times.

He’s back, but a little Tiger goes a long way these days.

The world’s longest standing number one golfer with 623 weeks, is now ranked an all-time low 21 and plummeting.

It’s important to place the greatest golfer of them all – Jack Nicklaus – in the pecking order of world number one.

Official rankings didn’t tee off until April 1986 when the magnificent Nicklaus era was over with a record 18 majors, and 19 runners up – just a few strokes away from 37 majors.

Woods will never match the “Golden Bear” as a golfer, or a man.

And that’s what Woods faces this week when he resumes from injury on Thursday at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, at Firestone, where he’s won seven times.

His credibility is on the line.

From the time he was three, putting against Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas national television show, to carding 48 through nine holes when he was five, to cracking 80 for the first time aged eight – Woods’ father Earl had carefully jig-sawed his son’s life to become a very special golfer.

And he achieved that, his son revered right round the world, fawned over wherever he went – he was bigger than golf.

Earl died of cancer in 2005, and that triggered a different Tiger – a selfish, arrogant, in-your-face competitor, whose popularity began to plummet like his ranking.

His unsavoury divorce due to serial infidelities was his fault and his business. Sponsors dropping off the band wagon his fault, but sacking his loyal right-hand man Steve Williams shows just how low Woods can go.

He has zero people skills – it’s his way or the highway.

The Kiwi caddy has been lugging Woods’ bag for 12 years, winning 13 of his 14 majors, and 63 of his 71 USPGA tour wins with him. They have been rightfully rated the best golfer-caddy combination of all-time.

And Woods sacked him. It gets worse. While Woods was off tour for months on end once his infidelities and on-going injuries began in tandem in November 2009, he didn’t pay Williams a cent.

Williams couldn’t hang around forever on the never never so he teamed up recently with Adam Scott, and that peeved Woods – so flick.

Earl would turn in his grave. He never created this Tiger.

Now it’s back to some normality.

His golf this week will be under close scrutiny, with no tournament win in the US since September 2009 – the BMW – and no win anywhere else except Melbourne with the Australian Masters in November 2009 – immediately before his infidelities hit the fan.

There has never been a longer drought for the 35-year-old, but he may as well get used to it

The golfing world has shot past him, he’s no longer a champion or a threat, no opponent will ever believe again they are playing for second money.

And how his peers treat him over the Williams sacking will be interesting. Woods can expect some pretty cutting remarks, and he’ll have no option but to cop them.

It’s all part of the new deal Woods has cut for himself, but he won’t be able to hack it.

To him it’s top dog, or nothing. Anything less and Woods will be on his bike. Permanently.

Would be be missed?

No, there are far too many really good young golfers who are decent role models for the sport: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Matteo Manassero, and Jason Day.

In the middle age group there are the likes of Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Camillo Villegas, and the Molinari brothers.

And the much respected older brigade stand out too: Phil Mickelson, Freddie Couples, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and Angel Cabrera.

So golf has more than enough to keep those television cameras rolling, and the deep sub-70s being carded.

Golf doesn’t need Tiger Woods.

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