Before I became enamored with basketball and pocket billiards, there was one sport that managed to catch my fancy. And while it was sport with its own rich history, it has gained notoriety as being dreadfully boring and an opportunity for evil personalities to meet over details of their own illicit activities.

Yes, folks. I am talking about the “gentleman’s game” of golf. And despite years of shaking heads and occasional quips about my love for an older man’s game, I still find it an interesting sport for several reasons:

  1. Strategy. Each hole in a golf course is different and depending on both the player’s skills and conditions on the course, there are many ways to complete the hole in the required number of strokes.
  2. No outstanding physical attributes required. In golf, height is an almost negligible advantage and the main skills required to excel in the game are consistency and the ability to play well in almost any situation.
  3. Beauty of the golf course. Over the years, golf courses have been designed to both show the natural beauty of their surroundings and each tournament I was able to watch on late Friday evenings was proof of that.

Since golf equipment was (and remains) expensive, I ended up using my late uncle’s golf clubs and golf balls and played golf at our ancestral home. I was lucky since we had a nice large garden covered in carabao grass and another uncle of mine built a chipping green (complete with a mini bunker or sand trap) for his own use.

My Tito Alex took up golf in the years after his interest in basketball had waned, and it was through him I learned the basics of the game. At one point, he took me to the Binictican Valley Golf & Country Club in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and played a few holes with him and his friends (where not surprisingly I did poorly) and even met local professional Mario Manubay. Later on, he took me to a driving range in Manila, where I was particularly hard on myself after I could not strike the balls cleanly off the tee. Despite this, my interest in the game stayed, and I was soon after the likes of Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick Price and Seve Ballesteros among others. And when the Johnnie Walker Classic took place at The Orchard Golf and Country Club in Manila in 1995, I stayed glued to the TV for all four days of coverage, which would be won by the popular American golfer Fred Couples. I also looked forward to staying at my Mum’s house from time to time, as she had cable TV and it had extended coverage of the major golf tournaments as well. My playing time for golf decreased as I pursued basketball due to its popularity with my peers, combined with difficulty in accessing any nearby golf courses.

Little did I know that my love of golf would become an asset, until I started working for the EA Games account years later. It started when I installed a copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 on my work computer to try it out. I was instantly hooked from there. Eventually, I tried out the console versions of the game, and soon found myself becoming the unofficial “game master” for all the Tiger Woods PGA Tour games. It even landed me the post of Resolution Specialist, where I served as a support agent to my colleagues taking in calls or answering emails. And especially when a player with a Tiger Woods PGA Tour concern was on the line, I would be tasked to handle the customer as needed.

Tiger Woods captures his 73rd PGA Tour win at The Memorial Tournament. He is now tied with tournament sponsor Jack Nicklaus for the second most career PGA Tour wins, trailing only Sam Snead’s 82 wins.

The arrival of Eldrick “Tiger” Woods on the PGA Tour in 1997 gave golf an even greater popularity with people, as his mixed background in a predominantly “white” tour combined with his prodigious skills, made him the sport’s equal to Michael Jordan. The increased coverage also meant that I was less and less looked down upon for my interest in a sport traditionally considered as “boring” and for the wealthy folk only. He would rack up endorsement deals one after the other, becoming an ambassador for a sport that was growing in audience. And along the way, he would win, win and yes, win again.

So what would my opinion be about Tiger Woods and his infidelity to his now ex-wife Elin Nordegren, you may ask.

Personally, I do not condone his actions. The many affairs he had during his marriage are inexcusable for any man, even for someone of his stature. He treated women as if they were tournaments he won almost week in and week out, and did not value the relationship he had with a wonderful woman and the two darling children she had borne. In that essence, Woods failed horribly as a husband and a father.

But at the same time, it does not take away from the fact that he is a great athlete. He conditions himself unlike any golfer before or after. He spends long hours honing his game. He has changed swing coaches and caddies to stay on top of his game. He plays intensely from opening to closing, front 9 to back 9, first hole all the way to the 18th. He speaks well of his competition but lets his game do the real talking. In that aspect, Woods is definitely the best active golfer in the world and is in shape to dethrone the “Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus as possibly the greatest golfer of all time.

So after a three-year rut during which the scandalous affairs broke out in the media, he managed to capture two tournaments wins this year alone. He is now tied with Nicklaus for the second most PGA Tour wins all-time (73), only trailing Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour titles. Does that mean Tiger is finally back in the hunt for his next major?

The US Open is just around the corner. This is where Woods can prove he has consigned the demons of his three-year rut to history and march toward the all-time PGA Tour career and major win tallies.

But somehow, even if he does not succeed, he has several more years to do this. Snead took 30 years to reach 82 wins, while Nicklaus complied 73 wins in 25 years. Woods got to 73 wins in just 17 years, a full eight years less. Therefore, the math favors this predator.

Now, if only this predator could somehow stay tame off the course as he should. Oh, and thanks for proving golf is not such a “boring” sport.

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