Once upon a time, Tiger Woods was the most dominant athlete in the world. What he had done for the sport of golf is something that may never be seen again. There have been various periods of time that someone in golf has been able to call them self the best in the field — a title which Tiger was able to hold onto for many years. He changed the game, making the aged sports exciting and attractive to new audiences never before gained. He popularized golf, not only for viewership, but for the younger generation of athletes who may have never been introduced to the game without his influence. Tiger Woods was the best golfer in the world for many years and everyone knew it, but on the current PGA Tour he can no longer hold that title.
The official world golf ranking no longer describes the ‘best’ golfer, it describes the players who were able to get hot for a short period of time, and that’s where Woods finds himself now. He is currently ranked first in the world because of his run before the major championship season in which he had strung together a few tournaments wins. What fans and critics need to realize is that Woods can no longer be judged on what he used to be. He is a very good golfer and someone who can still provide more excitement than anyone else on tour, but he is not the ‘best.’
In the past few years, the PGA Tour has entered a period of time where there frankly is no ‘best.’ The tour now consists of a group of golfers that are ‘good enough’ — and that’s it. People are so quick to criticize Woods for not being able to win a major tournament since his incident, and that’s because they are cheering for the wrong ‘Tiger.’ When Woods was young he would go into a tournament with people practically knowing he would win. There was no guessing about it: he was the best in the game, and proved so with his 14 major championship victories. But there is a reason that in the past 21 majors there have been 18 different winners: the field has become so much more even. So many players on tour have raised their games to the level Woods used to stand at alone and it has taken the idea of having ‘the best’ out of the sport.
It’s time for people to start realizing that they can’t blame Woods for not winning every tournament, because he’s playing against a field of golfers that are just as good as he is. At the conclusion of the Open Championship the biggest story was not that Phil finally won a British Open, it was that Woods did not have the ability or “killer gene” to win from behind. He won 14 majors without winning from behind not because he didn’t have the ability, but because he was that much better than everyone else. On today’s tour Woods no longer has that benefit of being head and shoulders better than everyone else, but that does not necessarily mean he will never win from behind, it just means other players are good enough to stay ahead of him or as Phil did, play better than him on a Sunday.
Will Woods ever win another major? Probably. But it’s not going to be because he’s the best golfer in the world — it will be because he is the hottest golfer at the time. It’s not fair to say that if he never wins another major his legacy will be tarnished, because it’s just not true. Woods was the best golfer in the world for many years and that should never be overlooked. He will always be in the same class as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player because he was just that good. It’s time to stop ridiculing him for only playing decent in majors and to start realizing that he’s just another golfer in a field of players who are all ‘good enough’ to win. Woods is a legend of the game he should not be judged solely for what he is doing now. He should just be praised for what he has done for the game in the past.