BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
I'm the first to admit that I have mixed feelings about the world's most famous golf tournament, and those feelings were harnessed back in the mid-80's. While working at the CBS TV station Jacksonville, we made it a habit of traveling to Augusta to cover the Masters. It certainly was an adventure, as seemingly every year, tournament officials put new restrictions on local TV stations. I remember we were not allowed to do live reports from the grounds, so we would set up our cameras at a nearby rental house with me reporting in front of a yard full of dogwoods and azaleas. I'd simply say at the end of my report, "Reporting live from Augusta, Rick Karle, Channel 4 News" (which was correct since I was in Augusta, Georgia). While the green jackets and blue hairs at the golf course have at times been less than accommodating, my view of the tournament (and it's exclusive policies) have since been more often overlooked with the arrival of Eldrick Woods.
When Tiger burst upon the Masters scene in 1997 and won by 12 strokes, he not only became the youngest Masters champion ever, but a golfer who turned the tournament and the accompanying CBS TV coverage into must-see TV. Soon to be gone from the booth was Jacksonville's Pat Summerall, but Jim Nantz, although a bit dramatic, would suffice- and every April since 1997 I have made it a point to put the Masters on my weekend viewing menu. Next weekend's problem? Tiger will be absent due to back surgery, forcing the 4-time Masters champ to join you and me as a TV viewer. And the chances of winning that 19th major at some point in the future to overtake Jack Nicklaus for career major wins? They are dropping faster than GM stock.
Will Woods surpass Jack? There's good news-bad news here for Tiger, as despite nagging injuries he has won eight times over the last two years and ended both campaigns ranked number one or number two in the world. The bad news is that at age 38, Woods, come the end of next weekend, will be winless in his last 23 majors dating back to 2008. Oh, there's still time for Woods, as Nicklaus himself says, "If you look at it realistically, Tiger has another ten years of top golf. That's 40 majors. Can he win five of them? I think that he probably will."
Tiger Woods owns 14 major titles at the age of 38. Jack Nicklaus owned 14 major titles at the age of 35, and didn't win his 18th and final major until the age of 46 (yes, sir!). Can Tiger Woods win those five majors over the next decade to surpass the great Nicklaus? Woods needs to get healthy and he needs to work on driving his golf ball in the fairway.
I think you will agree with me that Tiger Woods will be remembered as a great golfer but less than a great man. I certainly would not consider him a role model what with is nasty tabloid past. But when the man is playing in a tournament, I'm turning on the TV as I'm either going to see a Tiger Woods victory or a Tiger Woods meltdown. What will I be seeing next weekend? Not much golf, for as Tiger Woods sits it out, I'll be doing the same. I've been looking for a day to stain by deck, and with Tiger on the shelf, I'll be gettin' it done in my back yard.