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Tiger is running low on life’s ‘mulligans’

Golf’s a funny game. Sometimes dignity and etiquette in the game get skewed.

I remember playing in a two-man team competition. When my opponents flubbed a disastrous sand save, I politely remarked, “Oh, are my friends in trouble”? However, if they pulled off some remarkable feat of golfing excellence, I’d murmured, “Are those SOB’s on the green”!?!

I thought about that odd amalgam of concepts and emotions this week. A week that was not so good for Tiger Woods. When there was the dichotomy of, “Oh, no, NOT again!”, balanced against, “Oh, no, not AGAIN!”.

I’m one of Woods’ biggest fans. I’ve followed ‘El Tigre’ from his out-putting Bob Hope on ‘The Mike Douglas Show’ as a toddler, to his winning the U.S. Amateur as a skinny 18-year-old, all the way up through his 15 golf Majors and 79 PGA Tour wins.

But I’ve also moaned through the bad, like his estrangement from his mother, and the infamous extramarital sex scandal in 2009 that cost him his marriage, and mentors like Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan who’ve tried to reach out and help him only to have him push them away.

But now, maybe I’ve reached my limit.

This week, Woods was found along a Florida highway asleep in his damaged Mercedes in the dead of night, with his brake lights on, his right blinker flashing, his bumpers banged up, and his two driver-side tires flat. He could have accidentally killed himself. He could have accidentally killed a perfectly innocent motorist or pedestrian who happened to be on the wrong street at the wrong time.

Arrested for driving-under-the-influence, though he did blow a 0.00 on his breath test for alcohol, Woods told the officers he had lost his way.

That’s probably the most honest thing Woods has told anybody in a long time.

​Once again, Woods has reduced himself to a human piñata for the world to strike and tear apart. The next time he tees it up on a golf course – assuming there is a next time – it’s likely that same guy who shouts those annoying “You da Man!” as club-meets-ball will have a field-day.

Truth is, much as you respect his talent, Woods has never been an easy person to like, inside or outside the locker room. He often makes almost no attempt to connect with the fans, like me, who nevertheless adored him while he elevated golf to a place it had never been before.

But that’s okay because as a society we make exceptions for the greatest of the great, even if they sometimes act like a seven-letter word that rhymes with “brass pole”

And make no mistake: I’ve never seen anyone, save Jack Nicklaus, more staggering than Woods in his prime. What he did with the golf ball was on par with the seemingly defying things Jordan did with a basketball.

More than anything, I’d really like to see Woods get healthy and whole for the sake of his two kids because since the death of Earl Woods in 2006, he should know firsthand the importance of a strong father figure in a kid’s life. So yeah, I’d like to see Woods find his way home sooner rather than later; if nothing more than to beat the field one more time on a Sunday.

In the game of golf they call allowing your opponent a do-over shot, a mulligan. Once again, I’m giving Tiger one; but I’m beginning to run out of golf balls.

 

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.