Does Tiger Deserve to keep Playing?

TigerIn 2011, Peyton Manning underwent surgery for a pinched nerve in his neck and missed the entire NFL season.  Many questioned his ability to continue his career.  The Denver Broncos took a chance on him and two years later, at 37, he threw a NFL record 55 touchdown passes.  Two years after that, he threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and despite winning the Super Bowl, had clearly lost the physical ability to compete.  He rode off into the sunset and now drinks Budweiser and happily pitches Papa Johns pizza.

photo from Getty

photo from Getty

Tiger Woods is one year older than Manning, and their professional careers came of age in roughly the same time period (1997-1998).  Woods is now 41.  Plagued by injuries and psychological foibles he fell from 2nd to 218th in the FedEx standings in 2014 and has done nothing since, except fill his fans with false hope.  Why he continues to play is anyone’s guess, but does he deserve to continue?

If Tiger was in Manning’s shoes, he’d be out.  We often think of golf as the ultimate meritocracy sport but is it?  The answer is still “Yes.”  Tiger earned his place in any field he wants to play in, just as any player with 20 career wins and an active 15-year Tour membership can claim.  Tiger actually still qualifies from his PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP victory in the last five years, but soon he’ll be on the 15-20 list.  Ever wonder why Tom Watson, at 67, occasionally shows up in a PGA Tour event?  He’s on the same exemption list.  Vijay Singh too.  Go here to check out the players that are exempt.  It’s updated daily.

Like it or not, successful PGA Tour events are staged when the tournament sponsor makes money.  Sponsors need those big names to draw crowds and television viewers.  That’s why they are granted exemptions for tournament entrants.  If Tiger is in the field and hacking, people are still watching.  So if better players are shut out of the field, so be it.  The difference is in football, you have a contract, you’re on a team, and you get paid.  If you can no longer perform, you get no contract and are finished.  In golf, you still have a chance.

As long as the current PGA Tour revenue model remains the same, we need that 15-20 exemption list and sponsor’s exemptions to drive attendance and positive viewership.  Guys like David Duval (45) hung on much longer than Tiger.  Duval did absolutely nothing for an entire decade.  Other guys like Ian Baker-Finch knew when they lost it and quit fast.  Tiger Woods should continue to play as long as he likes.  It might get ugly, but shoot, I’ll still be watching.  How about you; think we are good or do we need a change to the exemption rules?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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18 Responses to Does Tiger Deserve to keep Playing?

  1. Brian

    That is a real tough question to answer. He is the ‘hope’ incarnate. Most hope he continues to play, many hope he improves and some hope he wins another Major or two. However, given his current woes with his game, I do think it is unfair that his star power keeps deserving players out of the field. I realize that sponsors need to make money or else there is no golf, however it might be time to take a sober second look at his future.

    Cheers
    Jim

    • Brian Penn says:

      Jim, can’t the same be said for all the aging champions that play The Masters every year and have no chance? The fans want them there, even over more qualified players. Remember when the green jackets had to gently push Doug Ford out of the tournament when he could no longer break 90?

      Thanks!

      Brian

      • Brian

        Sure, it is the same. However, the Majors are unique beasts that offer a different set of rules. But Tiger is now trying to be a regular tour player now. There is little doubt in my mind that he will be offered sponsor exemptions for years, but if he cannot make the cur, is there any real lasting value to keep offering him to play? The real challenge is that Tiger is in a league of his own and no matter which side of the fence we are on a strong argument could be made for the other side. Any news on his back after withdrawing in Dubai this weekend?

        Cheers
        Jim

        • Brian Penn says:

          Jim, I heard on the latest Hank Haney interview https://t.co/XiWtmUxjq5 that he may be ready for his next scheduled tournament. “Ready” is open for interpretation. So just to be clear, I think Tiger is done and should retire, but until he does, he has the right to participate. Other more deserving guys have an avenue in to every field through either the qualifying path via web.com, sponsors exemptions themselves, or US Open qualifying. Nobody can keep you out of the Open if you play good enough and anyone can qualify. It’s a tall order but win the Open and you’re set for five years on tour!

          Thanks,

          Brian

        • Brian

          I appreciate your view for sure. He is just a great player for so long. Hard to see him starting to fade this way. Thanks for the great article and conversation.

          Cheers
          Jim

        • Brian Penn says:

          Jim, thanks. I am frustrated with him on several fronts. And as the Xirrus interviewer pointed out, Tiger took over $1M in appearance fees for Dubai and said nothing to the press and fans after his WD. Would Phil act the same in that situation? Heck no!

          I very much appreciate your thoughts on this!

          Brian

  2. Pingback: Is Phil Mickelson Competitive? | The Grateful Golfer

  3. I wish he would take Fred Couples’ approach and just show up at Augusta and a few other tournaments each year. Maybe catch lightning in a bottle one year and make a run at another Masters.

    • Brian Penn says:

      I think Freddy’s mindset is in a much better place than Tiger’s. It has seemed from Tiger’s facial expressions and body language that he’s totally disinterested. I don’t think there’s any fire in the belly left with Tiger. If that’s the case, he should hang ’em up and nobody would fault him for it.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      Brian

  4. Heck yeah he deserves to keep playing! I like the 20 win, 15 year model. Very few guys get there. Tiger has earned the right to play any PGA Tour event until he doesn’t want to. It is one spot and that is fine!

    • Brian Penn says:

      Jimmy, I agree he certainly has the right to play. Problem is that he’s turning into exhibit A on how not to prolong a career. Boy the guy has some problems. I guess he’ll need to confirm that for himself.

      Thanks!

      Brian

      • Yeah he definitely is not playing well. But he has earned the right, in my opinion, to play as much or as little as he wants. I just hope he can give it a go in decent physical shape.

        • Brian Penn says:

          We have the injuries and also the motivation. He looks so dis-interested when he’s on the golf course. Is the fire still burning? I have to question his desire. But the thing is, as long as he’s in the field, you and I will be watching! 🙂

          Brian

        • I don’t question the desire. I think he wants to get the swing right and play pain free. I think when he is out of a tournament the desire is not there, which I think is the same with any player.

        • Brian Penn says:

          Jimmy, exactly. Now, he’s just like any other player. In the past he was extraordinary and burned with a competitive fire. I just don’t think that’s there any more. We’ll see what happens in his next start!

          Thanks,

          Brian

        • We sure will, but I would dispute he burned with competitive desire when he was out of tournaments in his glory days. It just never happened much so we didn’t see it. Just my two cents and much more, lol!

  5. Brian,

    I agree. He has deserved the right to keep trying no matter how bleak it looks. He’ll push the needle until he retires even if he’s just a sideshow to the real tournament. A cool thing about golf is the ability to honor and give privileges to past champions even if they aren’t likely to win. I love when the old guys keep playing in the Masters.

    Cheers
    Josh

    • Brian Penn says:

      Josh, you’ve hit on the big difference in golf and other sports. Golf fans enjoy seeing their past champions compete along side the best in the world, even if the past champion has no chance. That is not permitted in any of the other major team sports. The debate in golf is when the participation of the past champions begins to hurt the competitive integrity of the game.

      Hope you’re enjoying your trip in the desert! Thanks!

      Brian

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