U.S. OpenJune 17, 2015

Are we finally more obsessed with Rory than Tiger? A (kind of) scientific study

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- At the 2014 Masters, I was dumbfounded by how many times Tiger Woods' name came up in pressers that had nothing to do with Tiger Woods. But then, I shouldn't have been -- he was absent from the event for the first time in 20 years, and this, after all, was Tiger Woods -- golf's foremost icon, and someone who had forged his legend at Augusta National. It was only natural that the media would nurture a deep obsession with him. The Tiger-centric questions continued at the next few majors, though they diminished a little each time. I had to wonder: When would we, as a collective media, accept that the era of Tiger's dominance has passed, and stop asking other players about him?

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This week at Chambers Bay, I made it my mission to track all of the Tiger-centric questions and references throughout the pre-tournament pressers, and compare it to his heir apparent, Rory McIlroy. Essentially, this is a measure of progress. Here's what I discovered:

Rory McIlroy

Quantity: One question referencing Tiger Woods.

Context: Can you succeed on his same level?

Verdict: Slightly Tiger-obsessed.

Rickie Fowler

Quantity: Two questions referencing Tiger Woods.

Context: The first question was actually about Rory, and whether he's looked at as the new Tiger, and the second referenced something Tiger had said about the course.

Verdict: Not Tiger-obsessed.

Martin Kaymer

Quantity: Two questions referencing Tiger Woods.

Context: One was about the focus on Tiger, but he was mentioned third, after Jordan and Rory, and the second was also mostly about Rory.

Verdict: Not Tiger-obsessed. Possibly Rory obsessed.

Jason Day

*Quantity: *One question referencing Tiger Woods.

Context: Day practiced with him, and was asked about the 85 at Memorial.

Verdict: Very mildly Tiger-obsessed

Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Tringale, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell, Michael Putnam, Cole Hammer, Jordan Spieth, Lee Janzen, Ryan Moore, Jack Nicklaus:

Quantity: Zero questions referencing Tiger Woods.

Verdict: Not Tiger-obsessed.

THE FINAL RESULTS

In 15 non-Tiger interviews, only four players were asked about Tiger in six questions, and only one of those questions was overtly Tiger-obsessed. This, I'm happy to report, represents the lowest level of Tiger obsession in recent memory. Incredible.

And what about Rory? Here are the final results after I combed through the transcripts a second time, this time looking out for the "next Tiger":

Seven players were asked about Rory in 11 questions. That's almost twice the obsession levels we saw with Tiger.

Science doesn't lie: We are officially in the Rory Era.

Follow @ShaneRyanHere


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