Sunday, July 17, 2005

Excellence personified: Tiger roars through St. Andrews

It's been a long time since I've written about sports here at The Reaction, perhaps because my fantasy baseball team is so disturbingly mediocre this year and because I'm still fed up with the NHL, but it's hard not to admire what Tiger Woods has done both throughout his career and, after a couple of "down" years, this year in particular.

And his victory at The British Open -- at St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf -- proves that he's back and as dominant as ever. It was Jack Nicklaus's last competitive tournament, and he went out with his characteristic grace. How fitting that Tiger, his heir as the greatest in the game -- took home the trophy.

The competition seems better than ever and everyone's gunning for him, but he's recovered his form and has reestablished himself as the world's preeminent golfer and, indeed, as one of the truly best athletes in any sport, period. We often look to sports for models of human excellence. That may sometimes lead to disappointment, when great athletes are revealed as frauds or otherwise as less than truly excellent (e.g., Barry Bonds), but, as Tiger wins his 10th major and as Lance Armstrong continues to lead the Tour de France, it's clear that there's still a good reason to do so.

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  • Tiger's great and I only really follow golf when he is in contention. But, unlike Nicklaus, who had truly historic competitors (Palmer, Player, Trevino, Watson), Tiger has no one that really is a peer. And I think that's a shame. The guys that are considered the other top golfers (Singh, Els, Mickelson, etc.) really are not historic figures in the way that Nicklaus's competitors were. It's probably true that the talent in golf is deeper than when Nicklaus was dominant, but I don't see anyone that really can challenge Tiger. While Nicklaus faced other players who could stand up to him and fairly frequently beat him, who can Tiger point to as a rival? This is not to take anything away from Tiger, but I think this, in some ways, takes something away from what he has accomplished.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 AM  

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