The problem with Tiger Woods isn’t sex, it’s lack of graciousness. Always has been. He doesn’t handle losing as gracefully as Nicklaus, not even close; he doesn’t give credit to others in victory or defeat; he doesn’t give up himself to galleries the way Mickelson or Palmer does. Well, he had a chance today to make a good little start at turning over a new leaf. He utterly blew it.
The deal was this: Tiger Woods and Tom Watson have never gotten along very well. It’s odd: Both are Stanford alums. But the word is that when Woods came out on tour, he never gave the great Watson much respect, and Watson has said Woods was even rather standoffish. Granted, Watson isn’t a particularly warm man, but he’s a good man and an admirable man. And he helped build this great game that has given so much to Woods.
Anyway, Watson had some fairly harsh criticisms for Woods’ demeanor — his ON-course demeanor, which is fair game — after Woods self-destructed in public last winter. Clearly, there is bad blood; but Watson’s comments were right on target and well deserved.
Cut to this afternoon. Woods’ group was right in front of Watson’s. This may have been Watson’s last Open Championship at St. Andrew’s — not his last Open Championship anywhere, but maybe his last at the home of golf, and a significant rite of passage into history. It would have been so easy, and so gracious, if Woods had made a public gesture, since he was right in front of Watson anyway, of greeting the old champion as Watson came to the stairs behind the 18th green. Woods could have shown respect both to Watson and to the game by swallowing his pride, greeting Watson with Woods’ hat off, shaking Watson’s hand, and turning to the remaining crowd in the gloaming and leading them in one last round of applause.
Nope. Not Woods. And when he was interviewed by ESPN after his round briefly, Woods could then have said something nice about Watson. He should have taken the chance to volunteer his respect. But he didn’t. As usual, it was all about Tiger.