The casual fan will remind you of it four times a year when they drop in on the majors. Golf writers will remind you of it every slow traffic week when they try to justify the relevance of their post about him. Even the hardcore fans will tell you that the statements made, while tiresome, are not untrue.
It's just not the same without Tiger Woods. He's the guy that really moves the needle.
The up-and-coming stars of today are blessed with the financial rewards that Woods has bestowed upon the game, but also cursed by the unrealistic expectations and lazy comparisons to the legend that we all just can't stop ourselves from making.
He's just not Tiger.
It doesn't matter who the "he" is in this statement, it will always ring true. We are never going to see another player like Woods, in the same way that we had never seen a player like him in the hundreds of years this game existed before him. But this does not mean that we are not witnessing greatness. It means that we're maybe not appreciating it. Jordan Spieth, at the age of 22, has a chance on Sunday to win his third major title and his second green jacket, something Woods would not accomplish until the ages of 24 and 25, respectively (see, I just did it!).
What confuses me is how much time and energy people spend pining for days of yesteryear, when we have something very special directly in front of us. During yesterday's Saturday afternoon round, there was a movement turning against Spieth, which left me scratching my head in confusion and frustration.
It's not unusual in sports. We tend to do this to all of our stars. We love a player on his rise to the top, then once he's there, we get overexposed to him, and start picking him apart, with LeBron James being perhaps the best example. With Spieth, the breaking point seemed to be about his pace of play on Saturday, combined with what the critics are calling his "whiny demeanor."
After seeing him set fire to the entire joint in 2015 with a record-tying 18-under par 270, it's no surprise to see that the sub-air systems have been cranked up a bit this year, and the pins more tucked. Combine this with winds unfamiliar to Augusta since the 2007 event, and we've got the most challenging conditions we've seen at The Masters in the last decade.
People complaining about pace of play: HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING THIS GOLF COURSE?— Blayne Barber™ (@BlayneBarberAU) April 9, 2016
Yes, Spieth looked uncomfortable at times on Saturday. He was backing off shots consistently and people took notice. It's almost like playing in the biggest tournament of the year, under extreme conditions, with the lead and millions of eyeballs on you, is a bit nerve-wracking.
Between Rory and Jordan in the final pairing yesterday, it was obvious that Spieth was the slower player of the two. Any golf coach will tell you not to hit a shot until you feel comfortable over it, and until you are completely committed. When the stakes are this high, and when the mistakes are as punishing as they are at Augusta, there isn't a more appropriate time to gather yourself before hitting a shot than here. It may have taken him longer, but despite a shaky finish, Spieth wiped the floor with McIlroy yesterday. Augusta National is not a course where you can just stand over a ball, grip and rip it.
Rory going the wrong way pic.twitter.com/PhCL36aVR7— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) April 9, 2016
Spieth knows that, and has a green jacket in his closet to prove it. McIlroy does not. I don't think McIlroy cost himself by not taking his time, but let's just recognize that there is obviously a method to Spieth's madness.
My overall point is, why is this what we're talking about? Spieth's pace of play, and his whining? We're potentially seeing something that we've never seen, in the history of the game, and this is a big takeaway from the first three days?
That's some break for Spieth... again.— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) April 9, 2016
He's slow and jittery:
Jittery fella, our Jordan #Masters— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) April 9, 2016
And my favorite -- Spieth is to blame for Paul Casey's collapse!
I'm not saying you have to root for the guy, or even like him. But the fact that he just finished his seventh consecutive round at the top of the leaderboard of the biggest tournament in the world, and we are talking about the speed in which he played these holes seems so incredibly pedantic. What we're witnessing from a golf perspective is very significant. I would think that golf fans and media alike would want to sit back and enjoy it.