Feature

Tiger Woods: The greatest athlete ever?

Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in history, said a London Guardian blog, and it's hard to come up with anyone who has dominated their sport the way he does. There's one thing that sets Woods apart, said Martin Blake in The Age . . .

What happened
Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a sudden death playoff to win the U.S. Open, capping a tournament win that Woods called his “best ever.” It was Woods’ first golf tournament since knee surgery, and he said he was exhausted and relieved after winning on the 19th hole of a playoff round to take his 14th major professional victory, putting him just four short of Jack Nicklaus’ record. (Los Angeles Times)

What the commentators said
We’ve witnessed greatness before, said the London Guardian’s Sportblog. There was Martina Navratilova on the tennis court, and Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring. But there was something extraordinary about watching Woods battle pain in his knee and come from behind in his almost certain march to surpass Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. The obvious question is whether there is “any sportsperson who can match Woods's domination of golf in their own sport.”

“The best sportsman in the world?” said Martin Blake in Australia’s The Age. “Of course he is. Maybe even the best ever. The best golfer of all time? No doubt about it, with apologies to the Golden Bear.” Golf is a game tailor-made for choking, and “Tiger Woods never, ever chokes.”

"Seeing Woods, 32, in his prime is like watching Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan or any other giant of past sporting ages,” said USA Today in an editorial. Sports won’t cure cancer or bring about world peace, but at its best it can “give fans, and even non-fans, a sense of joy to be alive at the moment, to witness something spectacular.” So savor each glimpse of Woods’ “miraculous” talent. “One day, you'll be telling the grandchildren about it.”

“Every age finds the heroes it needs,” said David Brooks in The New York Times. And Woods—with his super-human ability to keep focused despite the distraction of the roaring crowds that follow him everywhere—is ours. “The ancients were familiar with physical courage and the priests with moral courage, but in this over-communicated age when mortals feel perpetually addled, Woods is the symbol of mental willpower.”

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