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Jewish World Review April 12, 2001 / 19 Nissan, 5761

Rubin E. Grant

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Consumer Reports

Is Tiger too good for golf? -- DO you remember the backlash from NASCAR fans a few years ago when Jeff Gordon was winning races practically every week?

Or do you remember when UCLA and the Boston Celtics won NCAA and NBA championships seemingly every year in the 1960s and early 1970s, becoming teams you loved to hate or hated to love?

Or do you remember how Notre Dame used to dominate the polls in college football and became the most despised team in the land, except among the Fighting Irish's most loyal fans?

Or do you remember the New York Yankees' dynasties old or even their present run of World Series championships?

Or do you remember how Joe Louis dominated heavyweight boxing?

No one asked whether their dominations of their sports were good for the game, but it's a question now being asked about Tiger Wood's Grand Slam streak.

There is no question that Woods' collection of four consecutive major championships is the greatest achievement in the history of golf and perhaps all of sports.

But there is a question of whether we will tire of watching Tiger win time after time after time in the tournaments he enters.

And you wonder whether when a golfer wins a tournament that Tiger did not enter that we will all say that the only reason he won is because Tiger wasn't in it.

You wonder if we will become bored watching golf because we already know the outcome when Tiger is in the field.

I had a few folks tell me that there was no compelling reason to watch the final round of The Masters on Sunday because Tiger was going to win.

Certainly such domination by one player, even one with Tiger's charisma, wouldn't be good for golf, would it?

I think it's absurd that the subject has even come up, just like the silly debate about whether Tiger's winning four consecutive majors constitutes a grand slam.

I believe golf will just continue to gain in popularity as Tiger chases Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.

During media day Monday at for the upcoming 10th Bruno's Memorial Championship on the Senior Tour, I asked John Jacobs, the tournament's returning champion, if Tiger's domination was good for golf.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened: Tiger winning four in a row," Jacobs said. "It makes the best athlete in the world a golfer. Believe me, Tiger is an athlete.

"The public never loses interest when they're watching a champion. When Michael Jordan was winning championships with the (Chicago) Bulls, the (television) ratings just went up and up and up.

"The kid (Tiger) is the whole package. He handled the media, he handled the pressure and he handled all the players' jealousy."

What Tiger has done is drawn even non-golfers and non-golf fans to the sport.

And he also has forced other players on the PGA Tour to work harder on their games in hopes that they can win on occasion.

Although it seems that sometimes the news media ignores the other golfers in a tournament because of Tiger's huge presence, it's hard to believe Tiger's shadow will completely blot out the other talented players such as David Duval, Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els.

Of course, if Tiger successfully defends his U.S. Open, British and PGA Championship titles in the coming months, we might have to revisit this subject again.

Rubin E. Grant is a columnist for the Birmingham Post-Herald in Alabama. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, SHNS