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The Loop

On Tiger's tantrums

July 23, 2009

ESPN's Rick Reilly takes Tiger Woods to task for his temper tantrums in the wake of misfires, and the frequency with which he misfired at Turnberry last week gave Reilly ample ammunition:

"He spent most of his two days at Turnberry last week doing the Turn and Bury. He'd hit a bad shot, turn and bury his club into the ground in a fit. It was two days of Tiger Tantrums."

"This isn't new. Woods has been this way for years: swearing like a Hooters' bouncer, trying to bury the bottom of his driver into the tee box, flipping his club end over end the second he realizes his shot is way offline."

Reilly's principal bone of contention is that it sets an horrific example for kids, who tend to want to emulate Woods. I would argue that it's a parent's responsibility to see to it that their kids behave properly, as Deacon Palmer did with Arnold when he was still a junior golfer and given to bouts of temper. "If you ever throw a club again," Deacon told him after one such fit, "I'll take them away from you. This game is for gentlemen, and gentlemen learn to control themselves." Palmer never threw another club.

That said, by now we should have learned that Woods does nothing demurely -- he punctuates great shots with fist pumps and poor shots with, well, punctuation: @#&*!$%. We admonish golfers for showing too little emotion and here we admonish one for showing too much emotion. With Tiger you've got to take the bad with the good.

Woods' tantrums, of course, are unsightly and unbecoming the most gifted player in the history of the game, and the percentage of those who would endorse such behavior is small, though in direct opposite proportion of those who at least occasionally have demonstrated identical behavior -- albeit seldom in front of an audience of more than three.

As Bobby Jones himself said, "Golf is a a game that creates emotions that sometimes cannot be sustained with the club still in one's hands."

-- John Strege