Every morning this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Masters in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Tiger showed off some emotion — both positive and negative — and a little choice language on the course Saturday despite his pledge to take it down a notch in both directions. Do you think he did any damage to the efforts to rehab his image with his public displays of pique, or was it good to see the old fist-pumping and self-flagellating Tiger roaring around the National?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I felt like he only had that one slip after he pulled his tee ball on six. I noticed that instead of going completely bonkers after the horrible drive on 17, he laughed. That showed something.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: As awful as he played in the middle of his round, I thought Tiger was pretty even-keeled. The real display of composure was making all those late birdies to claw his way back into the tournament.
Joe Posnanski, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I guess I’ll come down on the other side. The guy talks about how he will be more respectful to the game and he can’t go THREE DAYS without swearing on national TV? I mean, I don’t care if he swears or not — just like I don’t care how he lives his private life — but if you SAY you’re going be more respectful to the game and you’re going to hold your emotions in check better and all that, I mean, hey, you might show just a little commitment. Make it to, I don’t know, your second tournament before swearing and shouting “You suck” and acting petulant when things don’t go your way.
To me the main point is the same point: He’s the same guy. He’s the same incredible golfer, the same awesome competitor, the same intimidating presence, the same brilliant player, and the same sulky guy. It’s fun to watch him play, and he makes a golf tournament much more exciting. But I think he’s probably moved beyond the point of doing damage or not doing damage to his image. The image is the image. He’s Tiger. People will love him. People will not love him. Stories about his private life will keep coming out. But, as a golfer, he is not going to change.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Been fist-pumping since he could walk and probably cursing from the moment he made his first bogey. You think Saturday was bad? Just wait til Phil puts on another green jacket …
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: No. Tiger keeps it real on the course. I like that about him.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Sports Illustrated: I thought Notah Begay on Golf Channel was funny when asked about the outburst. He gave Tiger credit for subbing one fairly benign four-letter word for another, much dirtier word. A step in the right direction! Give the man some credit.
Alan Bastable, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Damage? Nah. He’ll still get a free pass for whatever he does between the ropes, be it an act of bravado, or frustration, or whatever. On Thursday, lest we forget, he punctuated his very first tee shot with his signature showy club twirl, and after yanking his approach at the 14th, he let out an “Aw, gaaaad!” before releasing his iron in disgust. Later that evening, in the press center, he pulled another of his old tricks: supplying curt, uninformative answers. What are you going to do? As TW likes to say, it is what it is.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: It looks like Woods is trying to be more even-keeled on the course and the outbursts Saturday were a sign of how much trouble he was having off the tee. Nobody wants him to be a monk out there — we just don’t want him to be a jerk.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: As long as Tiger isn’t dropping f-bombs or flinging clubs, he’s headed in the right direction. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him build Rome in a day, you know? Give Tiger some time. Swearing is pretty far down his list of immediate concerns.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: The only thing that could further damage his public image is the revelation of additional significant moral transgressions, whether they be PEDs or something else. Tiger the golfer will always be Tiger the golfer, and clearly, despite the flaws the golfing Tiger has, the world is still in awe of that persona.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Agreed. And the minute Tiger stops with those short outbursts is the time he becomes a different golfer.