Bernstein: I Want Tiger Woods Back

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) I was wrong.

I told myself that I was enough of a fan of PGA golf that the absence of one of the best athletes of my lifetime would not affect my enjoyment of the sport. Some part of me actually believed that I would be equally thrilled and entertained by the rest of the best in the world, after Tiger Woods was forced into exile and mediocrity by an ugly combination of tabloid hell and leg injuries.

Seriously, I’m an idiot. I probably would have been the guy in 1946 saying “Yeah, Curly’s real funny and everything, but it’s not really about him. I’ll be lining up for this Shemp guy.”

True greatness is rare enough. What almost never happens, though, is potential greatness becoming real faster than we ever imagined, and then transcending what seemed like impossibly high expectations.

Some of us enjoy sports for this phenomenon in particular, as we want historic talent to fulfill itself before our eyes, regardless of geography or team affiliation. We can look back on Ruth, Gretzky and Jordan and recognize what they were, with many able to appreciate their significance in real time as their careers established.

But Woods was (is?) unique. He was supposed to be great, was great immediately, and rocketed higher still on a trajectory alongside the best ever. We knew what we were seeing from the moment it began, understanding how extraordinary it was. And then it was over.

Today, he is ranked as the world’s 28th-best golfer.

This sucks.

Woods returns to action at this weekend’s Bridgestone Invitational, his knee and Achilles’ tendon declared healed, a new caddy in tow, and I’m rooting like hell for him.

I want my electric Sunday afternoons again. Nothing against affable Northern Irishmen of recent variety — be they sweet-swinging moppets, steely competitors or gray-haired blokes – but they don’t have me checking leaderboards on my phone at a tee-ball game, or glued to the HD action later as the shadows lengthen.

We have not replaced those galvanizing moments during majors when strangers cluster around screens to follow the roars and fist-pumps, watching with jaws agape as another approach backspin-zips to a spot three feet from the pin, or a wayward drive is saved by an intentionally-hooked seven iron from an impossible angle.

Here’s the simple image of the golf I now know I need. It’s a brown man in a red shirt and a black hat, hitting a white ball on green grass. I admire the talent of everybody else, but nothing replaces the great and important.

Woods is back, as we are reconciling the possibility that he may never be what he was. His window for prime-career play is closing, with the field more skilled than ever. He may never be…Back.

These stories don’t usually have movie-ready endings, but there is one that comes to mind when I think about this weekend and the 2011 PGA Championship next week:

Peter Parker, torn between fixing his messy personal life and living up to the responsibility thrust upon him by his super powers, sits in his apartment high above the city, when a siren wails in the distance. The question must be confronted – does he respond to the crisis, embracing his identity as someone compelled by his special abilities to do what others cannot?

His girlfriend, newly resolved in her commitment to him, provides the answer.

“Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: I Want Tiger Woods Back

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Totally on the mark……PGA Tour is even more boring w/o Tiger in the hunt.

    • hammer

      If you say golf is boring, and only a little less boring with Tiger, than you aren’t a fan. Definitely a Bernstien suck up, but not a fan. Last week was great, if you watched it. I did.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Right-o…not a huge fan…
        I prefer Baseball, NFL, NHL, College Hoops, NBA, College Football over PGA.

        But to each his own….that’s why we have so much variety in sports.

        Haven’t played golf in 30 years but really didn’t enjoy it…….but I have friends who are total addicts. Again, to each his/her own.

      • Mark, Sterling

        You’re right, and anyone who had a hard time watching basketball after Michael couldn’t possibly be a REAL fan. I don’t mind watching the uninteresting goof balls that are trying to “replace” Tiger. But honestly, saying that golf is JUST as interesting or more so WITHOUT him? That’s just idiotic and above all, wrong! It isn’t about liking the new guys or not. It’s wanting to see the GREATEST PLAYER EVER (please don’t argue, cuz you’d be wrong) play for as long as we can possibly get out of him. It’s wanting to witness GREATNESS and not just goodness.


    Sinatra and Elvis did “the comeback.” If not Tiger, then McElroy (ckeh splieng) would be fine.
    Someone who can rocket himself into red numbers on a Sunday like Tiger could. And, why not, be cool selling something on TV or in a magazine.

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    While others relish in Bernstein admitting he’s an idiot, I will sit here and stew about his slighting of Shemp Howard. Shemp was a genius in his own right, and the original third Stooge to boot. To compare him to Curly is like comparing Steve Young to Joe Montana; each deserves to be recognized on their own merit.

    And I can’t believe I’m getting this worked up about the Three Stooges. It’s all my dad’s fault.


      B.B. I think you have something there. It’s hard to remember a “classic Shemp,”
      but it’s easy to remember that Shemp was funny.

      It’s like a Phil Sunday. He’s wrangled his way into a green jacket. The exact opposite of “a Goosen moment.”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        My favorite classic is 1944’s “Gents Without Cents” with the “Slowly I turned” “Niagra Falls” bit.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Yeah, but Tiger’s play of late has been as good as Curley Joe as a Stooge.

      My favorite offbeat Stooge memory was in 1962 or -63 when The Beatles created a sensation on the Ed Sullivan Show and Moe had the chutzpah to claim that they had stolen the idea for their haircuts from him!!!!!!

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        I 100% approve of bashing Curly Joe. The other Stooges didn’t even want him; he was forced upon them by Columbia.

        Oh, and classic Shemp would be “Sing A Song Of Six-Pants.”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Hard to think of too many things in which the Gender Gap is wider than love for The Stooges.

    • Denver Deadite

      “It’s all my dad’s fault.”

      We always suspected you might be the long lost son of Gary from Evanston. Only he gets worked up about carp like this. ;)

      • SPAULDING!

        Niagra Falls was Shemp? Shoot! I just forgot.

        I can, actually, improve my swing by watching golf. It’s the stuff you forget when you play 9 holes a week or less. Like, how close you’re supposed to stand to the ball.
        Critical. a few inches the other way, and you’re shanking.

  • mike in davenport

    Golf in general is one of those sports that looks fun to participate in, but I just can’t watch on tv. It makes me want to go outside and take a walk in the park.

    • Peter in Rogers Park

      Ok, Mark Twain.

  • Bob Franko

    Danny – besides agreeing with your context here, this is as finely written article I’ve seen you write yet. Granted, haven’t read a ton of them – but this hits on all cylinders. It’s like a well rested chateaubriand – nicely crafted, perfectly executed and satisfies to the last. Nice work.

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  • Larry Horse's water trough

    You can keep golf. I’ve seen paint drying that was more interesting. And Tiger Woods is a piece of garbage. I’ve never liked him. I refuse to contribute to any fame or notoriety he may achieve.

    You guys might jump down my throat for this, but at least I’m honest. And I don’t care if you want to bash me over it. Golf sucks. Period.

  • big time sucker

    greatness is greatness and nobody on the tour has achieved greatness. nobody in sports in the last 5 years has achieved greatness. Tom Brady did in the early part of this century, but has cooled off. Kobe may come close, but we as sports fans have generally subbed out greatness with parity and the drama that comes out of parity. In fact, i would even go as far to say, this country has a greatness void to it. I can’t find one actor, one politician, one american musician, one author who is truely great. Tiger can fulfill that void, he has it in him. i could care less about golf, the sport truely repulses me. My father and brother and heavy golfers, and the way they use golf to ignore their family members and leave them hanging while they chum it up with elite old men makes me sick, but i will watch greatness. we are hungry for it, that’s why 65000 filled solider field to see U2 and why 45,000 filled wrigley field twice to see paul mccartney, because they were witnessing greatness. i still watch old dvd’s and tapes of mjeff because i just love reliving that greatness.

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      “Tom Brady did in the early part of this century, but has cooled off.” Whah? ’07 was without a doubt his best year, with ’09 arguably being his second best… ’10 is probably 3’rd (or 2’nd?) Not sure about that Brady comment, I do agree with the basis of your greatness argument, though.

    • Jake from da burbs

      I really enjoyed reading your post and agreed with all of it except saying that Tiger can fill that void.

      The fact of the matter is that Tiger DID fill that void. He was celebrated and worshipped because he was the closest thing to athletic greatness since Jordan.

      Unlike Brady, Federer, Kobe (who all couldn’t maintain domiinance due to competition), Tiger removed himself from the conversation of ever filling that void ever again. Even if he returns to golf glory, he will never capture the imagination and garner the praise of all alike like he used to.

      Unfortunately if you want someone to fill that void of greatness, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Although I would argue with a generation thats hooked on progressive ideas, social media and the next “it” thing, you may never see greatness again. Maybe, we now celebrate parity and ecleticity (if thats even a word)

      • Jake from da burbs

        Correction to my first line: I really enjoyed reading your post and agreed with all of it except saying that Tiger CANNOT fill that void.

      • big time sucker

        i think i wrote that wrong, i think tiger can temporially fill that void if he get’s back to greatness

      • Jake from da burbs

        Yeah, I guess we need understand definition of greatness here for context sake. If you’re talking about greatness in actual performance and achievement, then yes Tiger could potentially return to that glory.

        But I believe greatness is not only performance and achievement but also all the notoriety and all the other “stuff” that comes with fame and from acheivement athletically. In this case, I think Tiger cannot fill this void.


    I don’t think Tiger Woods has been the same dominating golfer since the accident nearly 2 years ago and the subsequent scandal where the Rachel Uchitels, Jaimee Grubbs and some 15 other women came out of the woodwork to claim they had relationships at one time with him to a point where his marriage to Elin Nordegren came to a screeching halt. While it’ll be very interesting to see how he does today at the Bridgestone in Akron, OH and possibly next weekend in suburban Atlanta for the PGA Championship, I’m not so sure we will ever see Tiger do what he did on a golf course ever again. The PGA’s broadcast partners such as CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN & Golf Channel are hopeful I’m wrong and that Tiger can regain his form. I’m afraid that might be nothing more than wishful thinking.

  • Jake from da burbs

    Oh Dan… you had me at, “I was wrong….”
    Nary the day I ever thought I’d read those words from you.

    I want to see Tiger back and competitive but I will relish Tiger losing. I want him there on the final day in the hunt only to come up short. This isn’t some moralistic crusade against Tiger Woods.

    No, this is more a “slay the dragon” type emotion for me and I’m not sure I can fully explain why. Tiger Woods has become what the Yankees, Heat and Patriots are. You want to see them succeed and maybe even look invincible only enjoy it all the more when they are defeated towards the end. It maybe related to some childhood “good” defeats “evil” narrative that we all enjoy and have warm and fuzzy feelings about.

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Like the angle, Jake, but we need him to become the “dragon” again before he can be slain…

  • Tom Zelenik

    Why do the pages on this site auto-refresh so damn often you can’t read the comments without being constantly interrupted? don’t see this elsewhere.

    • Larry Horse's water trough

      Because this website sucks.

      • Cameltoe Rancher

        It’s the Curly Joe version of the site.

  • Meatless Meatball

    I don’t really think it’s the same thing, honestly. I hate all the teams you mentioned, but the difference is, they’re teams. With Tiger, it’s a guy. I mean, I loathe the Heat, but I’m dying for LeBron to live up to the expectations we had of him.

    Honestly, that’s probably the best analogy. LeBron was supposed to be for basketball what Tiger was for golf. Seeing the Heat slain should’ve been gratifying, but it wasn’t. Why? Because despite the fact that most NBA fans around the country hate the Heat, and despite the fact that many of us have a distaste for the way James handled himself last off-season, we all kind of want to see LeBron be the player we thought he could be. The difference is, though, that we can root against the Heat while hoping LeBron is individually spectacular. In golf, we don’t get that opportunity; there are no “teams” outside of the Ryder Cup. So, you can root for the guy who’s insanely talented, the likes of whom we’ve never seen before, or you can root against him, knowing that, essentially, you’re rooting for the field (I know there are some exceptions to this, like being a fan of a different golfer, but there aren’t many).

    • Meatless Meatball

      Sorry, this was supposed to be in reply to Jake.

    • Jake from da burbs

      You’re completely right… it isn’t a logical comparison. But to give you a little background… for me, it was hard to root for Tiger because it just seemed that his dominance in the sport was not based entirely on his brilliant play. For me, it seemed that other golfers not only had to face Tiger Woods the great golfer but also “Tiger Woods” the name.

      I can appreciate Tiger’s play but I found it difficult to root for Tiger’s success because his success lead to this mystical Tiger Woods name which was so feared that competitors wilted at its mere mention. Going forward, I root for great golf play but I also root for great competition. Competition is riveting, utter dominance is fun for a while and then it gets boring. I mean really before his personal mess, the Tiger superlatives had blown past the my person tolerance level.

      I wouldn’t mind Tiger winning here or there but I’d rather see Tiger playing well and competing but losing at the end.

      Also, I personally am enjoying LeBron’s failure. I dont’ feel that his out of world skills and physical athleticism merits my desire to see it completely fulfilled. I guess there was a time when I did root for that especially when he was in Cleveland but the reasoning behind his decision to move to Miami rubbed me the wrong way and I no longer have any desire to see him succeed.

      I found the NBA finals completely satisfying because I was able to celebrate Dirk Nowitzki overcoming years of toil and hard work and struggle to finally win the big game. His play was brilliant and like LeBron is a complete freak when it comes to his package of physical attributes and his skills. To see him succeed was simply a joy as well as the way he was able to do it.

      Maybe that makes me a meaty meatball…

  • Jon, Montgomery

    “Seriously, I’m an idiot.”

    LMFAO! You hit the nail dead straight on the head, Bernsy.

  • Denver Deadite

    Yes, you can tell it’s football season again, because Dan & Terry were whining about college fans (again) yesterday. These two would never survive in a college town, and I say that wondering at times how they’ve managed to survive in an NFL town. (Hint: pro sports fans are just as stupid as college sports fans.)

    • Spoon

      You’ve never lived in the south during college football season, I assume…

      • big time sucker

        in the south, it gets that bad for high school football, let alone college. i had once a guy come in(i was at school in valdosta ga and working at subway to afford food and stuff) and he was all depressed, and i was like dude what’s wrong, he’s like we lost.
        i asked him, oh your son must be pretty upset if you are
        he replied, i have no children
        and then said, oh well you must have had a great career and are still close to the team
        and he said, and i kid you not, with a straight face,”no i dropped out my sophmore year”
        i had no reply whatsoever. if you hated your school that much that you felt compellled to drop out, why in the WORLD would you be upset about the successes and failures of the athletic programs of sed school? the answer
        the morale of the town is tied to that school’s football team.

        heck, the college, valdosta state, won a NATIONAL TITLE a few years back and the town was like oh that’s nice, but if the highschool team loses, you have to put the town on suicide watch. it’s frickin nuts

      • big time sucker

        heck in valdosta, there are two highschools, valdosta and lowndes county and the town really doesn’t care about the success of lowndes county, even the parents of the kids that go there, and sometimes, lowndes has the better team, and parents often move to lowndes district because lowndes is a BETTER SCHOOL, and yet it still always comes down to Valdosta High’s football team to serve as the emotional pulse of that town

      • Denver Deadite

        I’ve lived in a fly-over state. But in the end, the stupid are everywhere. They aren’t limited to college football fans, or to people in the South.

        Some of the worst behavior out of sports fans I’ve seen has been witnessed at pro events here. Some of the worst incidents we’ve ever had in this country were at pro events – such as the Giants fan being nearly beat to death by Dodgers fans.

        Chicago isn’t a college sports town, and that’s why they’re allowed to be so dismissive of college sports and college fans.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Anyone know when Ten Foot Midget will debut as a Score Blogger?

    I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts of > 140 characters.

  • meesohawnee

    i can never admire an idiot who couldnt even buy a 10 dollar disposable phone so he can text and bang his two bit hosebags.. Now his children are going to to hear about it for life. Way to keep your standards high dan! bravo.

  • Cooper Scooper

    WHoah- Wait Chief-

    Da foyst thing dat galfers need to do is embwace Adam Done. Dat and get a reliever up and warm when Peavey trows his seventyfit pitch.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      THAT was brilliant!!!


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