My Only Issue with This Year's Masters

Let me first say that this year's Masters tournament was, by far, the most exciting golf tournament finish I have ever seen.  The sheer number of storylines and characters that were in contention throughout Sunday was staggering; just as one name fell off the lead, another player made birdie elsewhere to take his place.  As a golf fan... nay, a sports fan, I could not have asked for a better finish.  Well, almost.The public response to how Tiger Woods handled his post-round interview is downright confusing if not slightly embarrassing.  The man who was once loved by many prior to his own poor personal choices put on a show that sparked talk of a potential fifth Green Jacket at the best golf tournament in the world.  In the moments following his round Tiger was the leader in the clubhouse (until Geoff Ogilvy would ultimately tie his 10-under score moments later), yet Woods knew that nothing was decided to that point.  There was still plenty of golf to be played, and I assure you that he was more focused on who the rest of the day would pan out than answering interview questions wondering if he thought "he was back".

"We'll see what happens."  Twice Tiger stated this short quote, and rightfully so.  Nothing was over, and the best thing he could do at that moment in time was watch the final groups like the rest of us.  In a way Tiger was deflecting the attention away from his round because unless something miraculous happened, his score wouldn't matter. 

What bothers me even more about the opinions that flooded Twitter and many golf blogs was how their authors compared Woods' interview with that of Rory McIlroy, who had just suffered one of the worst course meltdowns in major championship history.  "Straight class" and "professional maturity" were titles given to McIlroy's statements in his interview, and rightfully so.  But what exactly did we expect Rory to say?  Would golf fans really hold it against him if Rory sobbed through the questions, or even muttered a curse in his responses?  I certainly would not have blamed the guy.

It all boils down to the fact that people are never, ever going to fully forgive Tiger Woods for what happened in November 2009, no matter what he does on the course from this point forward.  The court of public opinion has long since issued its verdict, and it is not favorable for the man that single-handedly changed an entire sport. Even when we, as fans, want to see the "old Tiger" come back we refuse to accept the fact that his personality is short, snippy, and sometimes rude.  We all looked past that before; why can't we do it now?

Well, the answer is simple: times have changed and so has our opinion of the former WGR #1.  Furthermore, Tiger himself told the world that he was going to be a "better man" towards fans and reporters; we were all expecting to see a kinder, gentler Tiger Woods.  However, that would not be the same man who won 14 majors and filled a sports icon void in the hearts of many fans.  That man was hardened, brazen, short with others, and won golf tournaments.

Regardless of how quickly fans will place the microscope on Woods for anything he does for the rest of his career, we were all once on the bandwagon not too long ago.  As writer Bill Simmons states in a recent article:

There wasn't a single person who liked sports and didn't like having Tiger Woods in his or her life. He was better at golf than we were at anything.