What all the fuss is about
A few grouches have been rolling their eyes this week at the hysteria around Tiger Woods playing at the Australian Masters. I must admit to being a bit taken aback by the extremity of the hype but then you watch him go around this morning, sinking three birdies on the back nine to lead the field in the clubhouse and you remember.
The guy’s a freak.
Granted, he’s a freak with not much personality, but then for all their colourful trousers golfers are an unexciting species. The closest thing golf has produced to a John McEnroe or Diego Maradona is John Daly who likes to do a lot of eating, drinking and even (gasp!) smoking. Maradona, by contrast, was busted for cocaine use, spent time in hospital after overdoses and had to have his stomach stapled because it was the only way to stop him becoming morbidly obese.
Tiger’s unparalleled success – Forbes reported earlier this year that he had become sport’s first billionaire – never seems to have distracted him from his quest to master the game. What makes Woods stand out against all other modern golfers is his consistency – you expect him to be leading every tournament, or at least be in the mix, as the other names drift in and out of the leaderboard.
The other global megastar in Australia this week in Britney Spears. It’s hard to think of two more contrasting figures. She’s the more conventional celebrity: a train-wreck, a victim of her fame who inspires sadness. By comparison Woods is relatively two-dimensional and inspires, well, awe.
And the awe is even among journalists covering his visit. His press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday – as Punch sports writer Anthony Sharwood pointed out – was a bit embarrassing. At some points Woods was visibly bewildered at some of the questions as he was repeatedly invited to say how much he was enjoying himself and how great Australia and Melbourne were.
It may have been an honest search for a perfect soundbyte but it looked like a desperate search for signs that Tiger knew something about Australia or even just liked the place.
Punch readers seized on the pattern of silly questions and offered dozens of others, taking an already absurd situation to even giddier heights. Some highlights:
Dizzyk: Do you think Stan will win Idol?
Harry C: Tiger, what’s your view on the Hey Hey It’s Saturday black face debacle? Should Hey Hey come back next year?
Shabangabang: Barack Obama referred to Brian Lara as the Tiger Woods of cricket. Have you heard of Brian Lara or cricket?
Jane: Tiger, is it a long flight from the US?
Kate: Tiger, if you could be any kind of sandwich, what would you be?
Walkly: When are you going to get your photo taken with a Koala?
Tim: How much better is Melbourne than Sydney?
Bob: Tiger, what’s the most inane and trivial question you’ve ever been asked?
On it goes. Suggestions are still being made here.
What makes many of the suggestions work – as with the question Jane and Tim, for example – is they were fairly close to some of the actual questions Tiger was asked. Was he enjoying Melbourne? Was he inspired by the course?
One question he did welcome was when he was asked if he was used to this level of hype after 7000 people and some media helicopters followed him around the Kingston Heath course during his practice round that morning. “Trust me, it’s not [normal],” he said. “Thank God it’s not normal.”
If anyone thinks there’s something wrong with the country getting excited by Tiger Woods, compare the unifying effect he has with the divisive and ugly rows over lip-syncing and fan walkouts that have followed Britney Spears, who has been forced to defend herself publicly.
If you can’t agree Tiger’s worth getting excited about, surely you can agree he wears the hype well.
And doesn’t that make you curious about what makes him tick? Now you’re on the right track.
Nobody understands this guy. Hence the freak show when he comes to town.
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