The Open is upon us again this week and golf fans around the world are so excited they could shit. So are the golf writers. In fact they already have done – all over Tiger Woods.
While I understand the views posted on these pages that it is time to let bygones be bygones, it should be pointed out that the reason the UK press have piled in on the World No1 so many months after TigerGate is because Woods has since effectively been in hiding, sheltered by the sycophants within the American press.
His stage-managed apology – at which only a hand-picked few were allowed to ask him questions – riled hacks on this side of the pond, as did the timing of his announcement in the middle of an important PGA Tour event. Subsequent examples of perceived dishonesty came in the form of his declaring himself 100% fit before the Players Championship, only to then withdraw with a neck problem he subsequently admitted had been plaguing him for some time.
In short, Tiger’s been burning his bridges, and now that he’s at the Open, it’s open season on Tiger.
That said, quite what Woods’ private life has the fuck to do with anyone is still beyond my understanding. Sure we all like to hear the sordid tales of celebrities up to no good with porn stars and cock (in their) tail waitresses. But we don’t have a right to know. If his sponsors don’t like him playing around they can simply sling their hooks – and some of them have done. And those that have stayed loyal have been rewarded, as is the case with Nike, whose new putter will be flying off the shelves faster than the iPad.
Quite whether or not Steve Williams will receive the same recognition from his employer this week is another matter. This is a man who became the richest sportsman in New Zealand by dint of carrying someone’s golf-clubs around and pointing him in the direction of the flag.
It’s not that Williams said anything we didn’t know already. It’s just that the last thing Woods would have needed after being mauled by the redtop rotweilers was his own right-hand man taking a bite out of his arse as well. At least now I believe the Kiwi when he says that he knew nothing about Woods’ extra-curricular activity – he knew it wouldn’t stay secret for long if his caddie knew.
Assuming they stay together for this week’s major, the body language between the two will be fascinating. If Tiger plays badly will he blame Williams? If he plays well, will Williams take the credit?
Either way, I don’t think the great one will win this week because he simply has too much on his plate just now and has admitted he doesn’t have time to practice as much as he used to. At 5/1 Woods is worth an each way gamble, though, because he has won the last two Opens at St Andrews, knows his way around the track blindfold and has already come fourth at both majors this year.
What’s more, if he does win, it will be up there with his one-legged US Open win in 2008 or his annihilation of Pebble Beach back in 2000 – because this time he will have done it on his own.