Tiger’s Win Takes us Back

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Winning the FedEx Championship, Tiger Woods allows us to go back to a simpler time.

It’s finally happened.Casual golf fans around the world have a reason to celebrate. The hype wasn’t all for nothing. Tiger Woods won an honest-to-God, real-life PGA Tour tournament.

In 2018. Not only that, he was one stroke away from winning the FedEx Cup playoffs. Had he just reached No. 2 on the playoff list, that alone would have been enough for the golf world to celebrate his return to legitimacy.But he didn’t stop there; in the nick of time, just before the season ended, he got to smile for the cameras while holding a trophy.

Why do we care so much about Woods, a guy that by all accounts was not exactly a friendly gentleman in his private life, and exposed the skeletons in his closet a typical celebrity fiasco meltdown? I’ll get to that.

Wind breaker

But first, let me tell you about my trip to the bookstore last weekend.My wife had an epiphany about material goods. (As in, “If it doesn’t bring me joy, throw it out!” I try not to remain in the room with her long enough to allow her to ask that question about me.)

Some of the victims of this ruthless winnowing down of our possessions were a box of old books — mostly textbooks and cookbooks — and records and DVD’s. I hauled the over-flowing box into Half Price Books, thinking they might allow me to purchase some heady, intellectual tomes examining the human condition (more Far Side” collections). 

While I was trying to look smart and thoughtful while perusing the bookshelves, my 3 year-old daughter passed gas. Loudly. Then she looked up at me, smiled, and asked, “Wanna smell it?”

My illusion of a morning spent in deep thought picking out books had been interrupted by the foul odor of reality. Then I was called back to the counter to get an offer for the collection I had hauled across the parking lot.”We can give you $10,” the girl behind the counter said. I looked at her, looked at the huge pile of books, DVD’s and records I’d hauled in, and then looked back at her. She didn’t need me to vocalize my mix of curiosity and frustration at the low number. As she explained why they would offer such a pitiable amount, she grabbed some of the cookbooks, shrugged her shoulders, and said, “No one buys cookbooks anymore. Everyone just looks up recipes online.”

This was not news to me. But I thought, still, there must be some market for mint condition cookbooks. Maybe elderly ladies? Maybe hipster restaurateurs? Isn’t there anyone that wants to learn how to do something without turning to that omnipotent, creepy know-it-all named Google?!I guess not.I took the $10, bought my daughter a book about monkeys (and some Beano) and headed out the door, defeated, longing for a simpler time when people used cookbooks.

And then Tiger won.

Take me down to Nostalgia City

Seeing Woods holding his place on top of the leader board Sunday allowed me to slip back to an age in which people weren’t constantly craning their necks over glowing rectangles, and annoying teenagers couldn’t make millions of dollars by producing idiotic videos on YouTube, and endow themselves with a haughty title, like “content creators”. Not today. Not this week. With Tiger on top, we can allow ourselves a brief dip in the pool of nostalgia.

I say let’s enjoy Woods’ win. Let’s party like it’s 2000, when the juggernaut was in full steam, winning three majors by a total of 17 strokes. When the most controversial aspect of Woods’ play was his rocky relationship with his caddies, the ongoing battle was Woods vs. Mickleson, instead of Woods vs. His Inner Demons. Is this willing denial of our current reality healthy? Maybe not.

But it sure is fun! I know, I know; the truth is, Tiger’s not quite the same. Age, personal strife and surgery have taken a toll on him. Americans may love a comeback story, but why do we care about a guy that, by all accounts, was a total jerk in his private life? I’m not sure. I think an interview Woods gave with CBS about how much he appreciated his fans lets us know why he still cares. He may still be a prickly porcupine when people try to pry into his personal life, but he doesn’t seem to take his comeback for granted.

We can accept our modern times

That’s why we care. Woods’ win can’t really take us back in time. But we don’t need to go back in time. If you’re a golf fan longing for a time when Tiger’s presence was irreparable, you can rejoice. He won a tournament. He’s No. 2 in points. And the Ryder Cup is right around the corner.

If, like me, you’re longing for a time before people were tied to smart phones and social media made celebrities out of morons, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Put your phone away and read something with a physical copy (like this newspaper). Go to a bookstore and pick out something new (or used). But if you see my daughter and me, you might want to keep your distance.

This column was originally published in the Republic-Monitor on Sept. 27, 2018. See more golf columns here.

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