By Brad Thompson–

The final round of the Masters was as exciting as it gets in the world of golf. The logjam atop the turbulent leaderboard on Sunday afternoon at Augusta National made for spectacular TV. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I had one problem. Why do so many fans want Woods to win?

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Isn’t this the same guy who had the sports world in the palm of his hand and used his power to run around on his wife? Woods’ marital and personal problems were aired publicly, so I’m not going to revisit them, I just don’t know why the galleries at Augusta wanted him to win so badly.

This isn’t a story of a person overcoming adversity to achieve greatness. He isn’t coming back from surviving cancer or a devastating injury. He’s responsible for all his problems away from the course. I understand why people were rooting for Mickelson to win the Masters in 2010. It was heartfelt story, Mickelson winning another green jacket while his wife is fighting cancer.

I believe in second chances, but this isn’t a case of someone making one regrettable mistake and returning a changed person. After his marriage fell apart, he vowed to be a better person and golfer. All I’ve seen from him since is a bunch of whining and groaning on the course. He still disrespects the game by the way he plays. Do you think his father would be proud of the way he behaves on the course and treats reporters? My guess is that his father didn’t teach him to play this way.

In this country we, as fans, are so quick to forgive athletes. In today’s sports culture, athletes are idolized and become children’s heroes based solely on a their athletic performance. I understand that players’ personal lives are subjected to public scrutiny that may be unfair and unwanted, but like it or not, it comes with the territory. On Sunday, it was clear that the masses have moved past Tiger’s transgressions and only care about seeing him return to greatness. What’s wrong with our culture when athletic performance is more important than values, like decency and respect? What message does that send to children?

This Masters showed us that golf is teeming with ambitious, young talent. The game is full of young bucks crushing monster drives, draining tricky putts and having fun while doing it. As Rory McIlroy demonstrated, not all of the younger players have the experience to succeed in a major, but they are certainly contending.

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I hear golf commentators and experts say that it’s better for the game when Tiger wins. Remind me again why that’s true? So we can return to a situation where the masses love Tiger and idolize a golfer who lacks the respect, etiquette and integrity that the game of golf is based on. It seems odd to me that the game of golf would want a person with a reputation “like no other” to carry the torch for the sport.

Woods finished in a three-way tie for fourth place. By old Tiger standards, that’s disappointing, but by the new Tiger standards it was encouraging. Woods will win again soon enough, and everyone that has been waiting for him to return to greatness will be able to rejoice.

With or without him winning, golf is heading in the right direction. The growing number of international players and crop of young talent is the future of golf. And until Tiger starts respecting the game, I can’t find a reason to root for him.

Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.

Brad Thompson

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Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.