TORONTO - “Follow that car!”
“You heard me! Follow that car!”
“For heaven’s sake, I’m just a blimp pilot.”
“Well, if you want to continue being a blimp pilot you will FOLLOW THAT CAR!”
That’s the conversation I imagine happening before golf’s first high-speed chase on Sunday at the WGC Cadillac Championship in Florida.
In case you missed it, let’s back up a bit.
Tiger Woods began Sunday’s final round at Doral’s TPC Blue Monster hoping to mount a charge. After parring his first five holes he then bogeyed two in a row finishing the front side 2-over par.
At the turn he changed his shoes which was the first evidence that something was wrong.
Tiger’s limp became apparent after he hit a shot in the water while bogeying the 10th hole. After hitting a 321-yard drive on the 12th he withdrew from the tournament.
Woods was whisked away on a golf cart to the parking lot where he hopped into the driver’s seat of his vehicle and left the scene. The only comment he made to media before leaving the parking lot was, “Tell them it’s my leg. It’s my left leg.”
Which is where our story began.
NBC used it’s aerial camera to follow Woods as he drove away from the course. Maybe they were hoping he would open the sunroof and give his fans an inspirational thumbs up. Or maybe he would look up and give the blimp pilot an altogether different finger.
Fans who complain that TV puts too much emphasis on Tiger must have loved watching his SUV drive down the highway instead of watching on-course action.
Those blimp shots were the last we saw of Tiger.
Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post tweeted an update later Sunday saying that it was Tiger’s Achilles that was causing him trouble.
Remember last year at The Masters when Tiger injured himself hitting a shot from the pine straw on the 17th hole? His left Achilles (along with his knee) was injured and he went on to miss the U.S. Open and British Open.
Golf fans received some good news Monday though when Tiger posted this via his Twitter account: “Got good news from doc tonight. Only mild strain of left Achilles. Can resume hitting balls late in week and hopeful for next week.”
Notice how we said “golf fans” got good news and not “Tiger fans.” That’s because every week that Woods tees it up, it becomes more obvious how much better the sport is when he is playing.
The finish at Doral was exactly what fans had gotten used to when Tiger was injured: A disintegrating leaderboard on Sunday where whoever can keep their lunch down long enough to shoot par or 1- or 2-under wins by default.
Some argue the Tiger mystique is gone but he sure seems to elevate the field. He has always brought out the best in Phil Mickelson — as he did again this year at Pebble Beach.
At the Honda Classic two weeks ago he did the same to Rory McIlroy. Tiger’s eagle at the 18th made Rory refocus, forcing him to finish strong and claim the No. 1 ranking in style — he said as much after the round.
Love him or hate him, Woods is still the straw that stirs the drink in the world of golf.
So Tiger lovers and Tiger haters please join hands because it’s in both your best interests to hope he gets well soon.