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Inanity: Tiger Woods is back (sort of) and Greg Norman goes behind enemy lines

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This is the one month of the year pro golf is supposed to hibernate. The PGA Tour takes a “holiday” break at Thanksgiving, and the sport recedes into the background until we meet again in the new year in Hawaii. Not this year, as the game has been thrust front and center in the sports world in the month of December. Or more accurately, one person will keep golf in the sports discussion and provide a full cord to keep the golf content fires burning.

We’re now three-plus weeks in from the moment Tiger Woods re-surfaced with a simple swing video posted to Twitter. In the intervening days, he’s done his first public interview since his car crash in February, held his first press conference, presided over his annual Hero World Challenge, taking plenty of full cuts in view of the media, and now, committed to play next week’s PNC Championship with his son Charlie. We still don’t know if he’s “back” as a professional golfer, but he’s certainly back for consumption as a public figure, and this month will be a windfall for pro golf’s silly season. So with Tiger dominating an already quiet part of the golf year, he dominates this edition of the Inanity Index.

A reminder of how this works here in our nascent days: The Inanity Index will consider stories, amusements, and controversies on a 0 to 5 scale, with 5 being the most inane and well—let’s face it—straight-up inconsequential if we want to be honest with ourselves about all that occupies our time shouting and laughing at each other in the golf corner of the world. As in golf, if you’re a serious person here, you’re aiming for the low number.

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For better and worse, not much about Tiger Woods has felt relatable since he was a toddler. This is the case when you consume Tiger tales via the unauthorized books and documentaries, and also the mythmaking agitprop. It all feels like someone existing on another plane, and not exclusively a better one. It’s true of his golf, his off-course life, his youngest days as a phenom, his invincible peak days, and his sunset days covered in scars, corporeal and elsewhere. Almost nothing about this human’s life experience and what has happened to him, by his own hand and from the external crush of superstardom, feels normal.

This is why the glimpses of Tiger-as-dad in recent years have felt so extraordinary. This is not cause to smother you with more of the father-and-son treacle that pervades golf’s self-aggrandizement syndrome. But getting to observe Tiger in this role has been special. There are glimpses of relatability, and an endearment that typically felt so far out of reach. It’s relatable in that we see him as a dad. Not a dad exactly like you—you didn’t throw a Masters Champions dinner “quarantine style” with your family to mark the anniversary of your 15th major during the earliest weeks of the pandemic. But he’s still a parent, trying to spend time with his kids doing what they love.

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Former pro explains why players resented Tiger Woods when he first came on Tour.

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Tiger Woods is indisputably the greatest golfer of his generation. His list of accomplishments is so long it has its own Wikipedia page (yes, really) and he forever changed the sport of golf.

 

 

But back in 1996, before the green jackets and trophies and awe-inspiring moments, Woods was just a rookie on Tour. And while he had already been anointed the chosen one to carry the torch of pro golf into the next era, he didn’t yet have any professional accolades to back up the hype. And that hype rubbed some established pros the wrong way.

“We hated him,” said former Tour pro John Maginnes on this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar. “The money — the rumor was $10 million. That was beyond what a quarterback was making. This was an astronomical sum of money, so we resented him.”

That resentment didn’t last long for Maginnes, though.

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“Then I met him,” Maginnes said. “This is one of the funniest guys on the Tour. This guy is awesome. And so you immediately love him. Tiger is beloved in the locker room.”

It wasn’t just Woods’ personality that won over Maginnes, either. It was also his game.

“Once I saw the game, I knew everything that I’d ever done in my entire life was in vain,” he said.

Not long after that, Woods won for the first time in his Tour career. Eighty-one more victories — including 15 majors — would follow, and the rest is history.

Check out the entire episode of Subpar below as Maginnes dishes on what it was like playing with Woods, what it’s like to grind on Tour and more.

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FORMULAR ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BIG CONTROVERSY: AN ‘INJUSTICE’ IS REVEALED AFTER VERSTAPPEN’S TITLE

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Hamilton and Verstappen, a big controversy… An injustice is revealed after Verstappen’s title? Damon Hill was asked to comment on the outcome of the Formula One World Championship and said that the way Max Verstappen won the F1 title was ‘unfair’ and an ‘injustice’.

Just over a month after the dramatic conclusion of the Formula One season, the controversy over Max Verstappen’s F1 title has not abated. Lewis Hamilton has been silent since the 12th of December, which has cast a shadow over his future.

In the meantime, Mercedes is fruitlessly waiting for sanctions that aren’t happening, to be taken against the FIA and more particularly Michael Masi, the race director. Masi, whose decisions were controversial during the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and notably the management of the safety car. And according to 1996 world champion Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have reason to be upset.

“It’s unfair in itself”
“I think at the end of the day Lewis Hamilton’s fans feel very aggrieved because, and Lewis Hamilton may well do this and Mercedes may well do this, the way the decision has gone has put them at a disadvantage and they feel robbed.” says the former F1 Champion, who to be fair has been at the wrong end of title fight ‘injustice’ before.

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“So there’s a lot of resentment, obviously. But in the Dutch camp, was it a satisfactory way to decide a championship? You have to say it wasn’t satisfactory.

“I think it may even have been unfair because if you look at it from the point of view of how the decision was made, it allowed some cars to get loose and not others. That in itself is unfair.

“The result was a focus on the two title contenders and I don’t think you can run a motor race or a championship that way – you have to apply the rules equally to all competitors,” he told Sky Sports.

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Professionally Surprising: ‘What the #%@! was that?’ How Tiger Woods, in his rookie season, shocked this pro

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It goes without saying, but all eyes were on Tiger Woods when he officially joined the PGA Tour in 1996. He won three straight U.S. Amateur titles from 1994-96 and signed a lucrative endorsement contract as soon as he turned pro.

Of course there was intrigue surrounding the phenom. John Maginnes vividly remembers his first up-close look at Woods, when they were paired together at the 1996 B.C. Open, which was Woods’ fourth career start as a pro. Maginnes, now a golf analyst on Sirius XM, recalled that memorable pairing when he was a guest on this week’s GOLF Subpar Podcast.

On the third hole, a par-5, Woods pulled his tee shot into the trees but it kicked back out into the fairway.

“I’m standing 10 feet away from the hardest golf swing I’ve ever seen in my life, the loudest contact to a balata golf ball I’ve ever heard,” Maginnes said. “And this ball took off and looked like a laser.”

Maginnes said just when he thought the ball was supposed to drop, it kept going. And going, and going.

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“And by this point, Tiger’s already walked 40 yards,” Maginnes said. “As soon as he made contact he knew. It landed about four steps onto the front of the green and trickled to the back fringe.”

Mike “Fluff” Cowan was Woods’ caddie. Maginnes first met him the previous year at the U.S. Open.

“And I looked at Fluff, and I want to be very clear to all the listeners, I was not asking advice when I said, ‘Fluff, what the F was that?’ And he said, ‘That’s our 2-iron we carried about 275.’

“At the time I was averaging 268 off the tee, and he hit an iron 275. And I did dribble that 3-wood right on the front fringe, by the way.”

Maginnes tied for 60th. Woods tied for 3rd and two weeks later, in his next start, won the Las Vegas Invitational for his first career PGA Tour victory.

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