It is to Tiger Woods’ credit that he is always in position to win if other people choke, and that he himself never seems to choke to hand away titles to other people. He is indeed the most dominant athlete in his sport in my entire lifetime, Lance Armstrong included. But how I wish we could see him, a la my idol Jack Nicklaus, be forced to deal with excruciating defeats once in a while. Just once it would be nice to see somebody do to Tiger what Lee Trevino and especially Tom Watson (and several others, although they made no habit of it) did to Jack, which is to make birdies to snatch victories away when Jack seemed to have done everything necessary to win. Instead, the only people who have even held on in the face of Tiger in the lead or tied for the lead were the forgettable Bob May — who lost, but didn’t choke — the perennial runner-up Chris DiMarco — who choked early on Sunday, then came back, but was made to look better when Tiger bogeyed the final two holes of regulation — and the enigmatic Thomas Bjorn, who just lucked out when Tiger mis-hit a ball into the water on 18 to hand Bjorn the victory. In short, once Tiger has the lead, everybody else folds. David Toms did it again Sunday, after going 71 holes without a 3-putt, only to horrible yank a putt and 3-putt 18 just when Tiger for the first time fell within one stroke of him. Late last year it was John Daly missing a two-footer. Earlier this year it was two guys gagging in a playoff. Somebody needs to be a man a snatch a win away from Tiger. Only then will we see Tiger have a chance to show the grace in heart-breaking defeat that Nicklaus showed, which is one of the things that made Nicklaus not just a great winner but a great SPORTSMAN. Tiger may have that same ability, that same grace. But until somebody has the guts to make him prove it, we’ll never know.
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