After three days, the U.S. Open’s biggest story was about who didn’t make the cut.
Did anyone else find it perplexing that so many commentators spent the week leading up to golf’s biggest stage preparing for a heartwarming story?
The final day of the U.S. Open is played on Father’s Day. Ever since Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, died in May, golf commentators and others wrote and talked about what a “great story” it would be if Tiger won one of the game’s biggest tournaments.
Around the Horn’s Jay Mariotti used those exact words.
Somehow, I think there’s something missing here. Woods lost his dad and hadn’t played in nine weeks. His father taught him the game, and was there for a number of his big moments. All of Tiger’s wins are due, in part, to his father.
I’m troubled by terms like “great story” because it underscores what matters. Winning a golf tournament will not bring Earl Woods back. So what is so great about this story? Why is it important, especially in light of the tragedy Tiger’s been through? I’m sure Tiger wanted to win, but I doubt it would take away from his grief.
Some analysts, such as NBC’s Roger Maltbie predicted Woods would use his father’s death for motivation to win.
“He didn't quit being the best golfer in the world just because his father passed away,'' Maltbie said in a Mercury News article by Mark Purdy before the tournament started. “I think the way Tiger is made up mentally, he'll use his father's passing as a motivational tool.”
I doubt Mariotti, Maltbie, and others meant to come across as insensitive. It’s just sometimes sports analysts look for storybook endings, and in doing so, put too much weight on the value of sports.
Maltbie meant his remarks as a compliment, no doubt.
I don’t know Tiger Woods. In fact, Maltbie knows him better than I do. I don’t know how Tiger felt about the media coverage. But it struck me as a tad off base.
As I write this, the Open is just starting its final round. I glance at the current leaderboard and see David Duval is tied for 21st, seven shots behind the leaders.
This is actually one of his best tournaments in a long time. Duval's second-round 68 put him in the hunt, but a 75 Saturday all but ended his hopes.
It was not too long ago Duval was one of the best in the sport. He won the 2001 British Open and has 13 tour victories, but has struggled mightily in recent years. This year, Duval has missed eight cuts, and his highest finish was a tie for 22nd at the Wachovia Championship three weeks ago.
A number of injuries, and his adjustments to them, appeared to have derailed his career. Still, it has been good to see him and good to see him being competitive. A few articles have already been written about redemption but the story is incomplete until Duval wins again. Perhaps he has made a big step on that road.