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Nobody has impacted their respective sport more than Tiger Woods. Tiger has fixated the sport of golf since he broke onto the scene with his win at the 1997 Masters Tournament by a staggering 12 shots. But much has changed since that historic win 14 years ago. As much as the talking heads would like everyone to believe, golf needs Tiger Woods. Tiger is a fixtur+E26e of the sport. He has inspired to the game in so many different ways that transpire far from beyond the tee box.What frustrates me is how quickly the media is to pinpoint Tiger’s struggles due to his off the course issues stemming from his 2009 debacles. Tiger is the one of the most mentally tough to ever play sports, let alone the game of golf. To say that is affecting his performance is just silly. Tiger is going through natural aging and an array of injuries that are related to his legendary 2008 U.S. Open win over Rocco Mediate. The last time Tiger took a brief absence from the game and worked on his swing, he emerged with 6 Major wins in the span of three years, from 2000-2002.Golf needs Tiger. America needs Tiger. Tiger holds the same aura that Michael Jordan held, and I am afraid that if Tiger does not return to prominence, golf will go through a similar transition period that the NBA experienced after Michael Jordan’s retirement. Along with Tiger’s impact on popularity of the sport in America, Americans also need Tiger to return to form for the sake of embarrassment. Although Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker find themselves among the top ten in the current World Golf Rankings, Stricker has never won a major and Mickelson is wildly inconsistent. Americans have a tendency to only be drawn to sports that we have success in, and the last five Major champions have been European or South African. Most recently, Rory McIlroy captured the golfing world by storm with his U.S. Open win at Congressional. The 22 year old McIlroy barely had time to make his mark on his own legacy before he was vaulted into the “next Tiger Woods” category. This speaks to the impact that Tiger will forever hold on the game of golf. It is not going to be an easy road for Tiger to return to form, as he chases down Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 Major Championships. But I for one think that Tiger will eclipse Nicklaus’s mark in due time, but I do not know if he will ever return to the levels of dominance he once had, largely due in part to the abundance of talent on the PGA tour. The PGA tour has never been this deep, and this good. And Tiger knows that. Tiger endures most of his criticism because he has set the standard so high for himself. Although many, if asked, would say that Tiger has struggled recently. However, since his last major win at the U.S. Open in 2008, Tiger has finished tied for 6th or higher in six of nine tournaments, which would be very impressive if his name were not Tiger Woods. Golf needs to see Tiger among the top of the leaderboard at Major Championships going forward, or the game may never be the same.

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