Well, Tiger Woods certainly made it interesting.
On Friday and then again on the front nine on Sunday, the old Tiger Woods was back. In fact, if the old Tiger Woods had delivered even a decent old-Tiger-Woods performance on the back nine yesterday, Tiger Woods might have finished an amazing comeback and won the Masters.
But he didn’t.
Instead, in the last few holes, several unsung heroes stepped up and delivered the sort of clutch golf that Tiger Woods used to play, including the eventual winner, Charl Schwartzel.
When Tiger Woods finished his round, about an hour ahead of the last players, he was given the same opportunity that he is given at the end of every tournament: A microphone, a couple of softball questions, and the chance to show the world that he has learned something.
And, yet again, in this too, Tiger Woods came up short.
What should Tiger Woods have learned by now?
The only way Tiger Woods would have won the Masters yesterday is if everyone coming down the stretch after him choked. And when Tiger stepped off the 18th green at 10 under par, with about 5 other folks tied with him and one ahead (Adam Scott), Tiger Woods had to know that.
And yet, the only thing he said about his competitors and his performance at that moment was that we would just have to see whether Adam Scott could withstand the pressure Tiger had placed on him. No kind words for the amazing performance of the field. No gracious remarks about how great it was to be back in the mix. No charm or grace.
Well, Adam Scott did withstand the pressure that Tiger placed on him. And so did several other folks, including Schwartzel, who beat Tiger by 3 strokes.
One imagines that, if Tiger had been presented with a microphone after those guys finished, his remarks would have been similar to his usual post-defeat remarks: The reason they won is because I sucked.
Well, it’s time to learn another lesson, Tiger. You’re not going to win them all (especially now). And when you don’t win, the gracious thing to do is to compliment the folks who won for playing better than you.
What could Tiger have said yesterday that would have showed a little grace and humility?
Well, he could have said what Adam Scott and Jason Day said when they both outshot him by two strokes but still fell short. Something like this:
“I did everything I could out there today, and I was just thrilled to be in the mix. Given how well the guys are playing, I don’t think it will be enough. But I’m excited to have made a good run at it.”
If Tiger had said that, and smiled, lots of folks would have started rooting for him again.
But, instead, Tiger kept the old Tiger “if I don’t win it’s because I sucked” game-face on. And left it to Adam Scott and Jason Day to lose graciously.