Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the biggest sports star of all?
It’s not Messi or Mbappe or LeBron. Crazy as it sounds, the winner is Tiger Woods.
It’s crazy because Woods plays about as much golf these days as Old Tom Morris. Yet he is as popular as when he was piling up majors 20 years ago.
Woods just won his second straight PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, a bonus system based on popularity. It started last year, and Woods took home an $8 million bonus.
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This year, he got a $15 million bonus. Not bad considering he appeared in three tournaments, and his best finish was 47th.
That’d be like a broken-down Lionel Messi scoring two goals for the Orlando Lions and being voted the world’s most popular soccer player. The only way Tiger won’t keep winning the PIP award will be if Taylor Swift takes up golf, identifies as a male and starts getting sponsor exemptions to tournaments.
Woods’ status was further confirmed Sunday in the PNC Championship, a father-son (or mother-son in Annika Sorenstam’s case). Tiger pal Justin Thomas and his father led by two shots going into Sunday.
Vijay Singh and his son were tied with Woods and son Charlie for second place, but they were the first in the clubhouse on Saturday. According to normal rules, the Singhs should have been in Sunday’s final pairing.
Normal golf rules don’t apply to Tiger. NBC cajoled officials into putting Woods in the final group.
No doubt, it made for better TV. That’s all that really matters in the sports world these days.
Call it karma, but the Singhs shot a 59 to win by two strokes. Tiger & Son shot a 65 to finish tied for eighth, though they probably got more airtime than the rest of the field combined.
Bottom line – if you’re suffering Tiger fatigue, consider moving to another planet. There’s no end in sight….
Stud of the Week: The World Cup final. You didn’t have to be a soccer fan to appreciate how epic Argentina’s 3-3 shootout win over France was.
Stud II: The Orlando Magic for winning six straight games. That’s like Guam winning the World Cup.
Dud of the Week: The Gators in the Las Vegas Bowl. But on the bright side, they did score as many points as Argentina….
Bad Gamble: A guy named Cory Youmans was offered $3 million after he caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run ball. Youmans turned it down and put the ball up for auction over the weekend. The winning bid was $1.5 million. But at least it wasn’t in crypto….
In related news: The Donald Trump collection of digital trading cards bucked the slump in nonfungible tokens by selling out in one day last week. Sorry, but I’m holding out for the Rutherford B. Hayes trading cards….
I don’t know what ESPN pays Pat McAfee. But if he got 10 cents a word, the guy made approximately $5.8 million calling the Florida-Oregon State game…
After batting .193 the past two seasons, Cody Bellinger signed a one-year deal for $17.5 million with the Cubs. They will also pay expenses for his seeing eye dog on road trips…
This will date me, but wouldn’t you have loved to see Sanford & Son compete in the PNC Championship?…
I don’t want to say the media are a bit obsessed with race, but the Washington Post had a World Cup story asking, “Why doesn’t Argentina’s team have more Black players?”
Answer: In the most recent census (2010), there were 150,000 Black Argentinians out of 40 million people. That was 0.375 of the total population. Next week, the Post will investigate why the Norwegian bobsled team doesn’t have more Aborigines…
A restaurant in Thailand erected a Tiger Woods statue made out of condoms in 2010. With all due respect, I don’t think Lionel Messi has that on his résumé….
Is it just me, or should there be a law against a naked man sitting in a sauna or on a locker room bench without a towel?…
I have no idea what “nonfungible tokens” actually are, but they sound like a good name for a fantasy football team…
After consulting with NBC, the International Olympic Committee announced the 2024 Paris Games will drop the marathon and replace it with a chipping contest between Tiger Woods and Taylor Swift….
PNC Redux: When he was 77 years old, Old Tom Morris took on Rhona Adair, the world’s best female golfer. It was a struggle, but he beat her on the final hole.
“I’ll no’ be licked by a lassie,” Morris said.
Make up your own Tiger joke here….
The NBA announced it will name trophies after players. MVP – Michael Jordan. Rookie of the Year – Wilt Chamberlain. Defensive Player of the Year – Hakeem Olajuwon. Worst Hair – Dennis Rodman…
If the NBA had a Player Impact Program, Charles Barkley would beat 98.7% of active players…
This Just In: The LPGA announced it has canceled Old Tom Morris….
That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Till next time, may all your Christmas wishes come true. Especially if you wish that a naked man never again sits near you in a sauna.
— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun’s sports columnist. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.