Masters Golf

Tiger Woods hits a drive on the second hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Dear Eldrick: (I can’t call a grown man Tiger) You’re due an apology, as I stated to anyone who would listen (or wager) that you could not win the Masters under any circumstances. Citing your physical health as the main reason, and unlike many hypocrites, my predictions had nothing to do with the impact of your personal life and the decisions you made along the way. That’s none of my business and it’s in the rear view mirror. Quite honestly, I could care less about your private affairs, and my quasi handicapping of your golf game was strictly wagering. Sure, I told anyone who would listen to my drivel that your back still couldn’t hold up to four rounds of golf against the best in the world, and I used social media to chronicle the absurd amounts of cash Vegas had made off those who continued to bet on you during the prolonged dry spell between victories. The last time you won anything significant (with the exception of the 2018 Tour Championship), I had hair and wore a pair of 34-inch waist slacks, so betting against you was certainly safer than an individual retirement account and yielded far greater returns than a certificate of deposit. 

I just figured you were just healthy enough to swing a club and not totally embarrass yourself as you finished tied for 20th with some guy we’d never heard of, and at some point you’d ride off into the sunset with all that wealth you’ve accumulated over the years and continue to enjoy raising your children. After all those surgeries on your knee, back and a spinal infusion procedure to boot, a return to form did not seem likely, allowing me to doubt you and predict your mediocrity on the golf course. Heck, most of us whine when we strain our back playing with our kids or roughhousing with our dogs, so was it unreasonable to think that someone with virtually no orthopedic health whatsoever could totally recover and play at a high level? I say no, but look where that got me. 

I must now begin the process of paying off numerous small wagers to more people than I care to admit, but in their defense, they were only responding to my repeated offers to bet against you. 

Like millions of other people (but not myself), they’re hard core fans and follow you religiously, clinging to the hope of one more moment involving you winning big again before you call it a career to spend more time on your phenomenal $20 million yacht, leaving them all longing for more. If anything, sports fans are easily drawn in and are loyal. They expect more from you, regardless of circumstances. Give me all you’ve got before you crash and burn is their collective motto and many live vicariously through you, despite their inability to win at even miniature golf. 

Why you haven’t rode off into the sunset by now is still a good question, but your competitive spirit and desire to eclipse Jack Nicklaus as the greatest golfer ever obviously have something to do with it. Those things aside, I never took the kick ‘em when they’re down approach when betting against you, I simply was drawn to the lure of easy legal tender, and you finally reared your head and bit me, even though it has been more than profitable this past decade to bet against you with the aforementioned injuries pilfering your strength and crippling your overall game. Now that you’ve reemerged, what’s next? More PGA Tour victories, or perhaps another major? No one can truly predict what your future holds, but it should indeed be interesting. Will you continue to play at a high level? It’s quite possible, but the demands for an encore will be difficult. While you could certainly care less about a hack like myself, I will keep a close eye on you, Eldrick, as I intend to get my money back. Congratulations on the trek to better health, and for winning the biggest major for an astounding fifth time. May you always feel great physically and enjoy what is left in your career. 

The next stop on the carousel known as the PGA Tour is next week in Hilton Head at Harbour Town, and the U.S. Open is right around the corner in June at Pebble Beach. Tough turf indeed. The media will have a field day with your first drive if it isn’t picture perfect, and you better not miss a 10-foot putt to save par. Now who in their right mind would bet against you? Probably just some old curmudgeon who thinks he’s a handicapper, looking to get even for the Masters. Imagine that …

 

Danny Bridges, who once had a pleasant conversation with Brother Woods at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, can be reached at 317-370-8447, or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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