Tiger v Nike v Christian Bale

12 04 2010

He came, he saw…. he didn’t conquer. But fair play to him for making that unbelievably distasteful ad with Nike as we now have months of videos such as this on the horizon:

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Masters Preview: Return of the Tiger

7 04 2010

Rarely has a sporting event been as highly anticipated as this years US Masters in Augusta. It is unquestionably the leading major on the golf circuit in any case but the hype this year dwarfs anything afforded to the tournament in its distinguished history. There is one reason for this: Tiger is back. The biggest sports star on the planet returns at one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar; it doesn’t get much bigger than this.

The last five months, since Tiger wrapped his jeep around that tree, have been just unbelievable. The rabbit hole just kept getting deeper as we watched in amazement at the disintegration of a global phenomenon. More and more women emerged until it seemed that Tiger had a girl in every town. Judged like never before, Tiger became tabloid fodder amid insincere apologies, therapy jibes and relentless allegations. But now the man returns to do what he does best (well, maybe second best), play golf.

Monday brought his first Augusta press conference and a humble, apologetic man appeared before us. Tiger proceeded to apologise to the universe, whilst in the same breath say that he was hoping to show people that he is still an investable commodity. What people would you be referring to there Tiger? Sponsors perhaps? In any case, he looks like a man determined on restoring his public perception. The only way people would fall back into that state of awe and admiration would be if Tiger went on and won the event. Is that feasible? Can he actually win it after a five month hiatus?

It is probably the best odds you are likely to get Tiger at a Masters at around 5/1. He has been practicing in Augusta and his practice partner said that if he putts, he will go close. The word from the practice fairways is that he is hitting the ball reasonably well but the white heat of the 18th green is a different matter. Tiger’s renowned mental strength will have to be at a phenomenal level to withstand all the intense pressure and attention to ultimately win the tournament outright. Who would bet against him being in the mix come Sunday though? KJ Choi and Matt Kuchar will hardly be delighted to be paired with Tiger initially but it is the Masters so the disruption will be contained to an extent by the officials. When Tiger steps up on that first tee on Thursday at 6.20 tomorrow evening (Irish time), it promises to be something special.

What of the other contenders? Ernie Els looks at decent bet due to his recent form and the bookies have him around 3rd favourite after Woods and Mickelson. Harrington leads the Irish challenge and while his form hasn’t been scintillating, he is a three time major winner and has the ability and temperament to go close. If he is in the mix come Sunday afternoon, Harrington has a real chance. How the Dubliner would love to add the green jacket to his Open and PGA trophies. Anthony Kim, victorious at the Houston Open last week, could be in with a chance if he can be consistent and what of Jim Furyk at 33/1? Keep an eye on these groups which should produce some contenders for the weekend:

Els – Kim – Isikawa

Villegas – McIlroy – Perry

Kaymer – Ogilvy – Donald

Harrington – Swartzel – Cink

I will be having a punt on The Big Easy myself; Tiger couldn’t do it, could he? Here is a snippet of his Monday press conference:





Dear Tiger, Please Come Back.

3 03 2010

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30731492@N08/

Tiger Woods finally broke his silence recently for the first time since that car accident sparked the most unbelievable chain of events. The single biggest sports star in the planet went from hero to zero in headlined filled couple of months. Formerly the most marketable man on the planet, Tiger’s stock has fallen considerably and sponsors have fallen. It transpires this clean-cut, all-American winning machine had a different woman in nearly every city and the funny thing was, nobody saw it coming. He appeared the most disciplined and focused of men but alas, he had one vice.. Tiger immediately went from Espn to the National Enquirer in what has been one of the biggest sporting scandals of all time, up there with Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and perhaps eclipsed only by O.J. Simpson. I mean the guy didn’t kill anybody!

The apology eventually came and it was one of the most contrived scenes in sporting history. From the hand picked audience to the tears to the hug, the whole spectacle was cringe-worthy. In true American fashion, rehab was touted as the answer.. The guy clearly has a problem, send him to rehab. It is reminiscent of the line in the Simpsons: ‘This is America, we don’t send our celebrities to prison, we send them to rehab!’ Can you imagine the hilarity if John Terry came out and said he was a sex addict and needed therapy. Pull the other one John! Only in America.

All this aside, we need Tiger back in golf. Yes he made mistakes but the game just isn’t the same without him. The man is arguably the greatest golfer of all time and he has transcended the sport. The World Matchplay Championship was a terrific event and Ian Poulter played some great stuff to win it but there was always that feeling that the intensity and buzz around the event would have been vastly greater had the Tiger been lurking. Even from the players point of view, a win must taste all the sweeter having beaten Tiger. As a professional athlete, you want to test yourself against the best. The biggest event in golf is coming up in April in the shape of the Masters and Tiger won’t be there. You don’t have to like him as a person but there is no denying that it won’t be same without him. The man has an aura about him and his sheer presence at the event would alter the atmosphere dramatically. He may not have the same support as before but he will have the same galleries. The drama and excitement of his eventual comeback will be a sight to behold. Let us be honest, no matter what our personal feelings towards the man are, the game would be better all round if he were in it. It is moments like this that we will miss: