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Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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Can we all agree on this before Tiger Woods arrives?

PALM HARBOR — I have seen the man's parking space. I have stood in it. I'd park in it Wednesday, but the drone would probably see me and the chopper might drop down with special forces.

Tango Able to Whiskey Kilo, suspect has barbecue on his shirt, is sportswriter.

Tiger Woods, the man, the legend, the faded mug shot, is finally coming to the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. His personal parking space is close to the players locker room, as close as the spaces belonging to people who have actually played and won this tournament, like Adam Hadwin (2017), Charl Schwartzel (2016) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

Tiger 2018 is coming, and Valspar officials are standing on the beach, waiting for the invasion forces. An eighth admission gate has been added at the course, and 6,000 parking spaces, and 30 buses to get spectators to and from Tiger. A spectator bridge was under construction on the 12th fairway Monday, across a soggy stretch of the course.

Tiger is coming and Valspar officials are expecting 7,000 to 10,000 more people a day. Let's put it in truly human terms: The tournament has added 90 more porta potties. It had already added 70 more for the appearance of Rory McIlroy. But, you know, this is Tiger.

Woods has made no demands, Valspar tournament director Tracy West.

"He's actually very low key," West said. "He's not demanding at all. It's not like a concert, where he has to have only green M&M's in his green room. He just wants to play golf."

And frankly it's about time we looked at him as if there was nothing more to it.

Time for a reset when it comes to Woods.

He is human. I checked: 98 percent of us are human.

Woods, at this point, is nothing more than a golfer trying to become great again, a compelling enough story since back injuries derailed his express train past Jack Nicklaus.

But Woods had a lot to do with the personal mess he made. It's one thing to show that you're only human, but he didn't have to be a flying pig about it.

Woods is a living case study in the danger when we god up our sports stars. We became part of the problem writing about Woods' undeniable golf greatness, maybe the greatest greatness ever, and assumed it carried over to his side jobs as a husband, father and Perkins customer.

Twenty years ago, I wrote up Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as they chased down Roger Maris. They were everything good about baseball. It was the summer of love, we showered them with praise. We were their accomplices as they opened all-night pharmacies in their bodies and cheated their way into the record books.

Let's not let that happen again.

Athletes take their pants off one leg of the time, just like the rest of us.

Some of them take their pants off one leg at a time a lot more than the rest of us.

There are no sports gods.

It would be wise to remember that as Woods resumes play.

Can't he just be a golfer again?

Here's our chance, He's just a guy, right?

If Woods begins winning again, if he wins at Augusta next month, that will be forgotten. There will be talk of his comeback and, yes, his courage.

The man, the myth, the porta potties.

Just play.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] Follow @mjfennelly

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