Why is Rick Reilly attacking Tiger Woods?

Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.
Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. /

It is disheartening to read Rick Reilly’s latest column attacking Tiger Woods’ personal life.  In the age of a 24-hour news cycle, the media has done countless injustices to Woods, and Reilly’s column, “Golf his way,” piles on by saying Woods should have been emulating Jack Nicklaus’ personal life instead of chasing his 18 major championships.

There are several low blows in the article, and perhaps the worst low blow is the idea that Tiger is not friends with his peers.

Reilly writes, “Nicklaus is buddies with his rivals.  He often stays at Gary Player’s house in South Africa.  He and Tom Watson are as tight as sardines.  He vacations with Andy North.”

Reilly goes on to imply Tiger does not befriend people like Mickelson and Garcia because of the way he was raised, “What rival is Tiger close with?  Phil Mickelson?  Surely you jest.  Rory McIlroy?  They share an occasional (vulgar) text, but not much more.  Sergio Garcia?  Ernie Els?  Not even close.  The hunter doesn’t have lunch with the lion.  As Tiger’s mother always said, “My boy wants to take their heart.”

Is friendship not a two-way street?

The Tour was much different back in the 60s and 70s.  Money was not nearly as plentiful, and it should not surprise anyone that Nicklaus and his peers exhibited more camaraderie.

Reilly also goes after Tiger’s “intense” hobbies, and compares them to Nicklaus’ peaceful pastimes.  He says that Tiger gets angry on the ski slopes in Vail, big deal!

I understand Reilly’s quibble that Tiger, at times, acts ungentlemanly on the golf course.  However, the PGA Tour is a form of entertainment, and Tiger is the number one entertainer because he fist pumps, throws clubs, and roars into contention.

I’m not going to state Reilly’s joke about Tiger’s personal life.  It is unprofessional, and again, the 24-hour news cycle has done Tiger an injustice.  There are countless historical figures who would have been ruined by today’s media and its obsession with how people live their lives.

Why doesn’t Reilly state all the good Tiger has done?  Yesterday, Phil Mickelson said he has benefited the most from the Tiger Woods era.  When he won his first tournament in 1991 as an amateur, he would have made $180,000 if he was a professional.  At the time, Mickelson thought it would be a stretch to see a $1 million first place check in his lifetime.  Tiger changed that, and there are currently hundreds of millionaires who have played on the PGA Tour over the last 18 years.

Do you really think the PGA Tour would have surpassed $2 billion in charitable giving without Tiger?  How about earlier in the year, when PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the Tiger Woods Foundation has influenced the young stars on Tour to get involved in charitable work.  The amount of good that has come from Tiger’s historical run on the PGA Tour is unbelievable.

I’m not doubting Nicklaus’ charitable giving has been tremendous as well, but Tiger has undeniably made the world a better place.

Time to re-tee Reilly, you smoked that column way right.