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It's a strange job, traipsing about, typing sports. You forget how to tingle. Your Amaze-o-Meter gets stuck on empty. A comeback to win the Super Bowl? Yawn, scribble. A 9.9 to win the gold? Scribble, yawn. Almost 220 mph on that last lap? Yawn, yawn.
Then along comes Tiger Woods, and a job becomes a privilege. I would pogo from Bangor to Birmingham to see Woods play. I would wear spike heels, a see-through muumuu and RuPaul's curlers if it were the only way through the gate. I ought to buy my dad a box of cigars for having me the year that he did.
We're lucky. All of us. We're alive when the single most dominating athlete in 70 years is at his jaw-dropping best. Bathe in it. Wallow in it. Savor it. Take notes. Get video. Save newspapers. Your grandkids will want details.
Michael Jordan? This guy is better. Jordan had teammates. Woods is out there by himself. Jordan beat guys one-on-one, one-on-two. Woods won last week's unforgettable PGA Championship at Valhalla one-on-149. What's more, Woods never got cheap calls from refs.
Woods is pureeing everybody, everywhere, every way—from miles ahead and from two behind, as he was on Sunday with 12 holes to play. How many guys are good enough to win a major playing off cart paths on the last two holes? He thumps great players, and he survives the guy pulling gold monkeys out of his ear. Staring into the biggest upset since Colts-Jets, he snuffed out a toy pit bull named Bob May with a mile of must-make putts. All he did was birdie eight of 13 holes, including the first playoff hole. You can't Buster Douglas Tiger Woods. He stuffs every Cinderella back into the pumpkin.
Woods is the most amazing performer I've ever seen, and I've seen Ali, Gretzky, Jordan, Montana and Nicklaus. What Woods is doing is so hard it's like climbing Everest in flip-flops. Performing heart transplants in oven mitts. The four major championships have been played 344 times, and Woods now holds or shares the scoring record in all four of them? That's sick.
Woods's adjusted scoring average this year is 67.86, which would be a record by about a mile if it holds up for the rest of the season. Before Woods put up his 68.43 last year, only Greg Norman (68.81) in 1994 and Nick Price (68.98) in '97 had broken 69. Since the PGA Tour came up with the adjusted scoring average in 1988, the largest margin of victory—other than Woods's .74 last year—was Norman's .58 of a stroke. This year Woods figures to lead by 1.53 strokes. That's, what, 163% better than the Shark's margin?
You're sick of hearing about Tiger Woods. You're going to hear more. He has more than twice as much jing as the next guy on the PGA Tour money list. He has more than triple the points of the next guy on the U.S. Ryder Cup list. He has more than twice as many points as the next guy in the World Golf Ranking. Muhammad Ali was great, but was he twice as great as Joe Frazier?
The grumps in the press tent keep trying to find a buzzkill in all this. Hey, Nicklaus had to beat Gary Player and Tom Watson. Hey, if Woods didn't exist, wouldn't Ernie Els be Player by now? Might not David Duval have a chance to be Watson? Brilliant careers are going around stuck on Woods's golf spikes.
What do you have to shoot to win here? Stuart Appleby was asked last Thursday.