Monday, April 15, 2019

The Tiger Bet

Those of you who have read my blog over years know that I always make predictions each December for the coming year. Starting in December 2011, one of my annual predictions was that Tiger Woods would not win another major. After three straight years of being correct, I got bored with the Tiger Woods slam-dunk prediction. It was just too easy. Tiger Woods would never win another major. So I stopped even mentioning him. Predicting that he even had a chance would have been akin to predicting that Donald Trump would become President. And there you have it… always expect the unexpected.

The 2019 Masters was one of the greatest sporting events I’ve ever watched. I recorded it and my wife and I watched it in the evening, going to great lengths to avoid knowing the outcome each day. My wife has always predicted that Tiger would win another major and when he was in contention after two days, I still predicted he would fail. So we made a bet. If Tiger won the 2019 Masters, I would take my wife to Spain this year. She upped the ante and convinced me to throw in Italy. Modesty prevents me from saying what I would get if Tiger failed to win the Masters. I certainly felt that that the odds were in my favor and it was a good bet.

I’ve never been a huge Tiger fan. I certainly respected his game, but he just seemed like someone with whom I’d never want to play a round of golf. The fans thought he was bigger than the game. He seemed to agree with them and acted like it. He was just “that guy” and that’s not the guy I tend to root for. Granted, he was the best golfer I ever saw, period EOD. Better even that Jack Nicklaus. But, I tended to always root for the other guy…even if they weren’t from the good old U.S.A. Anyone but Tiger, #ABT.

Tiger was a golfing machine and, for me, that was the real problem. Golf is too hard for anyone to play that well. However, when his personal life went off the rails and his body started breaking down, he became human. And when Tiger Woods became human, I became a fan. For sure, some people turned on Tiger and ripped him for being such an awful person. The injuries and the collapse of his golf game were just part of Karma coming to collect. Good-bye Tiger and good riddance.

Even though I became a fan, I never thought he would win another major. He might win another tournament or two, maybe. But, to win a major against a field of great young golfers from all over the world, guys who could hit the ball higher and farther than Tiger ever could, even in his prime, much less now? No, Tiger would never win another major. Bad knee, bad back, bad thoughts…too much competition...too much to overcome.

But, on Palm Sunday in April in the year 2019, Tiger Woods found some magic, or maybe it was more a case of the magic finding Tiger. If there was a course where Tiger had a chance of winning another major it was Augusta. Jack did it back in ’86 when most thought his major win days were over. But, it’s a course where experience can be the great equalizer. Tiger hung around while younger, better golfers couldn’t keep the ball out the water on Number 12. Where the pressure cracked everyone but the old Tiger who still found enough game to be one shot better than anyone else when it all ended early on a Sunday as the clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall.

Later that evening my wife and I spent some time joking about the correct way to pronounce Barcelona, concluding with me betting her that my way was the best, most correct. She laughed and said it sounded more like the way Daffy Duck would pronounce it.

I replied, “Bet I’m right and furthermore Tiger Woods has won his last major.”

She just smiled and said, “Wanna bet on it?”

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