They are both quintessentially American.
One was the best in the world, probably the best that's ever been, at the very least for a single decade. He is a perfectionist, driven, ambitious, full of avarice and hubris, and impossible to ignore, love him or hate him. He had the reputation of always being at his best on the big stage.
The other is undoubtedly the best there's ever been at approaching the game from the "wrong" side, both literally and metaphorically. He is a swashbuckler, a gambler on his chosen field of play, but a family man off, who has overcome personal adversity and family medical crises to maintain a flourishing career into his mid-40's. He had the reputation of never being able to contain his daredevil game to comply with the strict limits imposed by the powers-that-be that control those big stages.
Both are admired by most if not most all golf fans, but either one or the other is genuinely embraced, never both by the same person.
The difference between the two was driven home this morning in the space of a few minutes. The first hit a bad shot, used the Lord's name in vain (on a Sunday, although admittedly he professes to be a Buddhist). The second hit a bad shot, after which his caddy apparently apologized for recommending the wrong club. He, however, said it was his fault, blaming the artisan, not the tool.
I can comprehend why those who are Tiger fans are so. He is the sporting Andrew Carnegie, a golfing robber baron who epitomizes why we are admired and disliked throughout most of the rest of the world.
For me, I'll take Phil. Even if he hadn't won today.
|British Open Champion|
(photo from International Business Times)