Sport Golf

Thursday 19 October 2017

Woods remains ‘must-see TV’ even for those who can’t bear to look

In a cliffhanger which had us all on the edge of our seats, Woods admitted he might never play golf again. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
In a cliffhanger which had us all on the edge of our seats, Woods admitted he might never play golf again. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

James Corrigan

Netflix should surely bow to the temptation and buy up ‘Tiger Woods, Professional Golfer’. It is the show that keeps on giving; episode after episode, series after series, box-set after box-set. ‘Breaking Bad’ with spikes on.

There were a few signs the tale was losing its interest, but this season has been an absolute classic, quite the achievement considering he has not hit a competitive shot since February. Outside the ropes, Woods has continued to lasso us all.

There was the driving-under-the-influence saga and then revelations about his dependency on prescription drugs and yet another humbling journey through rehab.

There were the naked pictures released of him and a former girlfriend and the rapid court action to take them down. And, all the while, in the background there has been the back problem, that time bomb which the observer is never allowed to forget and which threatens to blow the entire script asunder at any moment.

Woods has played his role admirably, opening up his character to allow us a glimpse, but never enough to realise the full picture. “Show, don’t tell,” in all its glory. Take the Presidents Cup. In the guarded old days, he would have batted away each and every personal query, saying he was there as Steve Stricker’s assistant and this was about the team. Not now.

In a cliffhanger which had us all on the edge of our seats, Woods admitted he might never play golf again. “Definitely,” he replied when asked if he could envisage his golf-less scenario. Was this the beginning of the end, should we prime the grand goodbyes?

Rory McIlroy seemed minded to, taking time out to give an emotional monologue. “If this is it, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone – not to me, not to us, not to himself.” But then, in the next instalment, the big tease released a video of him playing what looked like proper golf.

Alongside the 24-second clip came the tag-line – “Smooth iron shots”. Show, don’t tell, remember.

On Tuesday, he took it up another notch. He was always going to be at the Tiger Woods Invitational, to be among the millionaire amateurs who have paid ridiculous amounts for three days at Pebble Beach, but just a few weeks ago it would have seemed implausible that he would be conducting a clinic there. But there he is, on another posted clip, in front of adoring bankers and lawyers hitting more full shots.

What does it mean? Is he close to coming back, could we even see him again this year, perhaps at his own 18-man event in the Bahamas at the end of next month? The entry list has one unfilled space.

These are the questions the game is asking, but if the viewer would step back from the intrigue, he or she might understand that the real question is, “Why?” Why does he still captivate us so? Why with the emergence of so many young, fearless players – indeed, with a veritable bum-fluffed revolution taking place on the fairways – do we keep going back to this rapidly ageing 41-year-old without a win in four years and a Major in eight?

It can only be because he is the superstar of our lifetime and no, we just cannot let go. Not until we know how the greatest golf story ever told concludes – and the credits roll to their pitiful closure. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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