Golf Voyeurism: Tiger, Phil, Stevie and Reality TV

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NASCAR’s ratings are high because it has two audiences–those hoping for a great race and those waiting for an accident. Tiger Woods is golf’s NASCAR.

It was like having to stand-up at a wedding with your ex-fiancee.  For pure TV reality-show squirm-factor, this morning’s second-to-last pairing at the British Open couldn’t have been better. 

It wasn’t so much Tiger Woods opposite this year’s Masters champ, Adam Scott; it was Tiger Woods and Scott’s caddy, “Stevie” Williams.  ESPN referred to it as a “frosty handshake.”

The good ol' days

The good ol’ days

Steve Williams became Tiger’s Robin after the previous sidekick, Mike “Fluff” Cowans, was dismissed for treason to his majesty, after reportedly releasing his salary and bonuses to a magazine.

Williams, can be his own NASCAR wreck, speaking ill of fan-favorite Phil Mickelson (“I hate the P****.)  And in 2011 he expressed his joy in winning with Adam Scott in a speech that many would award the Fuzzy Zoeller prize for cultural insensitivity.  (link)

New Boss - Same Big Mouth

New Boss – Same Big Mouth

I’ve always been the person covering my eyes during a movie when someone gets busted.  In Gone With the Wind, it’s when Ashley and Scarlett are caught in, mid-embrace, by Ashley’s waspish sister India.

Scarlett and Ashley caught in the act

Scarlett and Ashley caught in the act

There’s no better TV, particularly these days, than to see pretty people fall.

So in 2009, Tiger Woods, the Superman of golf, put one into the rough by crashing his car into a fire-hydrant and a neighbor’s tree, crashing his marriage as his wife Elin (who may have created the crash as she took out her frustrations with his infidelity with one of his irons).  Three short months later, Tiger “apologized” to the world…

Nike jumped on the National Enquirer bandwagon in a creepy bit of PR spin-witch-doctoring. Tiger’s dead father publicly scolded his son as his prodigy looks contrite in black and white.

So the sports fans wondered how he’d bounce back.  The tabloid readers wanted a list of every hook-up in every Waffle House on the PGA Tour.  And I just wanted some good melodrama. 

Tiger has yet to win a major since the fire-hydrant collision but he’s the number one golfer in the world right now.  He’s no longer the “Michael Jordan of Golf” but is instead like Charles Barclay, very famous and skilled, but out of the big-dance.

I’ve always been torn with Tiger.  He too often reminded me of the kid in the desk in front of me in junior high.  When the tests were handed back, he’d smirk over his shoulder and say, “What’d you get?  I got an A.”

I’m not sure Tiger’s got a sense of humor.  His interviews reminded me of M*A*S*H when Charles Emerson Winchester roared, “I haven’t laughed this hard since…since…”  “Since your chauffeur ran over the squirrel?” suggested B.J.

And, like playing with anyone on the golf course who’s a bit too smug, it’s kind of fun to see them lose it…

But perhaps the most dramatic and ironic timing was rival Phil Mickelson’s win at Augusta the spring following Tiger’s accident.  Mickelson’s marriage was also undergoing great strain, but it was not self-inflicted, as his wife underwent cancer treatment.

So when Steve Williams called the final putt at The Masters for Adam Scott (and was given total credit by Scott afterwards) it seemed to appeal to my “So there!” factor.  But it’s not like Stevie’s that empathetic a character either.

And like any good and spiteful episode of The Bachelor, Big Brother, Survivor or Storage Wars, you just knew that the planets would align themselves to allow this morning to happen.  And if the director of The Bachelor were covering this event, you hoped for plenty of close-ups of Stevie smirking during each Tiger mis-hit.  But Scott, Stevie and Tiger weren’t the stars after all.

Mickelson, just one month earlier, 6th runner-up at US Open

Mickelson, just one month earlier, 6th runner-up at US Open

Tiger was once again unsuccessful in his bid to win a major by coming from behind on the Sunday of a major–finishing tied for sixth. And, as any good television show would have it,  Phil Mickelson came from behind on the final lap.

So we had the great race, the come-from-behind by the guy we’ve seen lose so many close-ones, and the slow-motion crash.  The ratings are probably sky-high–even at 10 am.


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About Kevin Walsh

Before creating MyMediaDiary.com, Kevin taught high school video productions and language arts for 25 years. His text, "Video Direct," is used in 40 states. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two teenagers. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kwteacher
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2 Responses to Golf Voyeurism: Tiger, Phil, Stevie and Reality TV

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