A Bay Area newspaper this week ran a column that was essentially an open letter to Tiger Woods, imploring him to reconsider his disdain for the rain-soaked game of celebrity “Twister” that is the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
It was a nice column and all, pointing out Tiger’s many Northern California ties, and there’s no doubt that it’d be cool to see the best golfer on the planet back at the second-most beautiful golf course on the planet.
(Sorry, Pebble. Love the surf, sand and otters, but Augusta National has you beat.)
However, it must be understood that to ask Tiger Woods to play in the AT&T is to ignore the very essence of Tiger, to ignore exactly what MAKES him the best golfer on the planet.
Aside from talent, which all pro sticks have in abundance, what so distinctively separates Tiger from the pack is his ridiculous ability to focus. And why ask a man who makes his living — not to mention his place in history — with unparalleled concentration to be someone he’s not?
Sure, the devil’s advocate could note that if Tiger has such tremendous focus, he should have no problem blocking out the myriad distractions presented by the presence of B-list musicians (Huey Lewis), fading movie stars (Kevin Costner), celebrity CEOs (The Donald) and soggy, bumpy greens.
And they’d be right. In 2000, he made up seven shots in seven holes to win it.
But one of the luxuries of being Tiger is doing what you damn well please, and what Tiger damn well pleases to do is tailor his golf calendar based on two priorities: Pacifying his sponsors and preparing for the majors.
If you have a problem with the first, deal with it. That’s how athletes get rich, and Tiger is the richiest rich of them all. I, for one, have no problem with it.
If you have a problem with the second, you simply aren’t a true fan of golf. And in that case, what do you care if Tiger isn’t at Pebble this week or next year or the year after that? You’ve got Bill Murray, Tom Brady and Glenn Frey. Go nuts.
The bottom line is that Tiger doesn’t need the AT&T; it offers nothing as a means to the end that is catching Jack Nicklaus. And, truth be told, the AT&T doesn’t need Tiger. It’s a great event, and Tiger’s presence or lack thereof doesn’t change a thing.
Would they sell a few more tickets if he played? Certainly. But they’d probably sell just as many more if they announced that *NSync was getting back together and playing in the same foursome.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com.