MASTERS MATTERS

Del Olaleye: It is sad that golf is begging for Tiger Woods to make the sport relevant again

The golf world is hoping Tiger is back. Masters.com

Golf has a problem and it isn’t a new one. The Masters is a couple of days away and the golf world is all abuzz about the possibility of their fallen hero winning again. That fallen hero being Tiger Woods. Tiger hasn’t won a damn thing since 2013 and it was a tournament named after tires. The last time Tiger won anything that any non golf nerd cared about was in 2008. We’re talking a decade-long drought in winning anything of significance and yet golf people can barely contain themselves this week. The possibility of Tiger winning the Masters has golf people almost willing to show some emotion that rates higher on the decibel meter than a golf clap. It would be like the NBA world praying the Spurs have one last run in them. The NBA doesn’t operate that way. The relevance of that league doesn’t depend on one team. Or as in golf’s case, one person.

Has golf not grown at all since Tiger fell off the map? Who are their new stars that don’t need Tiger Woods to prop them up? What happened to the Golf Boys? Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan haven’t captured the golf world’s attention? Golf actually did something creative and funny. They featured some of their young stars in something other a commercial promoting a golf ball. The sport itself looks down on individuality in a way that only baseball can match but depending on a 42-year old Tiger Woods to capture the nation for a weekend is a bad look. Golf you’ve had years to figure this out.

There was a time in the NBA when the absence of Michael Jordan from the big stage was felt. A decade later the NBA wasn’t still pining for Jordan to be a factor. Young stars like LeBron, Wade and Melo injected Hall of Fame type talent into the league in the 2000s and the NBA continues to thrive today. Jordan was a once in lifetime player. So was Kobe. So is LeBron. Is the game of basketball itself just likely to produce more all-time greats than golf? Probably. That could be the reason that since Tiger last won a major Kevin Durant and Steph Curry have changed the way their respective positions are played.  Curry has sparked a whole generation of kids who want to play like him. That used to be called the Tiger Effect. Durant and Dirk Nowitzki have changed the way big men approach the game. Name the last golfer not named Tiger Woods to do that for golf…..I won’t hold my breath.

I won’t even blame the people that run golf for this. By “this” I mean the desperate hope that a 42-year old man with back issues can infuse their sport with some juice. It isn’t their fault. They have less to work with. What does golf have to offer to those who weren’t indoctrinated by their parents or so-called friends? Golf’s only redeeming qualities are the fresh air and the soft bed of grass it provides to sleep on when the actual event you came to watch bores you into a coma.

Maybe golf fans will get their long unfulfilled wish this weekend and Tiger will win and people will start to care again. I almost hope it happens so the incessant “Is Tiger back” discussion will come to end.

I will credit golf for this. It is the only sport where you can use the actual gameplay as a replacement for a sleep machine. Sundays at the Masters, a nap unlike any other.


 

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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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