(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)
The stage was set. After nine holes of the final round of The Open Championship on Sunday afternoon at Carnoustie in Scotland, Tiger Woods was atop the leaderboard. Tiger has not won a major tournament since 2008 and, before Sunday, hadn’t held a share of the lead in the final round of a major in seven years. For the past ten years, the only type of similar feelings Tiger produced have been clutches for hope that spawned from short stretches of positive play. On Sunday, however, it seemed different. For a brief thirty-minute span, Tiger was unflappable. He was in the zone. After a birdie on 6, an incredible bunker save on 8, and a par save on 9, he was in the lead. Simultaneously, every player tied with, or in front of him on the leaderboard, started making mistakes. The collective excitement was as palpable as it had been in a long time. Then, in a blink of an eye, it was all gone. After a bogey on 10, Tiger double bogeyed 11, dropped two strokes from the lead and off the leaderboard. By the time he finished his round, he couldn’t make up the difference and finished tied for sixth, while his Sunday playing partner Francesco Molinari lifted the Claret Jug.
In the midst of Tiger’s meltdown, I couldn’t help but think of the many tweets and comments after nine holes that either declared Tiger’s victory, anointed him champion, or even celebrated in a manner that exuded a tenor or spirit that a Tiger win was likely. Here are just a few:
Tiger might've just won his first major in 10 years with the Shot of the Tournament – a sink-or-swim gamble out of the fairway pot bunker at 10, power-launching a wedge up over the lip and the Burn to the front of the green. The shot-heard-round-the-world.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 22, 2018
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) July 22, 2018
— Jared Max (@Jared_Max) July 22, 2018
Tiger’s back ? pic.twitter.com/rXcJ0u8usv
— Eryn Pittsonberger (@Eryn) July 22, 2018
Y'all, Tiger's back!
— Sergio Tovar (@sergiotovar) July 22, 2018
Tiger Woods is back! He’s in first place in a major on Sunday with nine holes to play.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 22, 2018
THEY ARE CRUMBLING!!!
Tiger Woods leads #TheOpen on his own
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) July 22, 2018
This is starting to have an inevitable feel to it ? #TheOpen2018
— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) July 22, 2018
Watching all these guys fall apart today is reminiscent of something we used to call The Tiger Effect. Coincidence? #BritishOpen
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) July 22, 2018
Nice try lipping out golf ball. Not today buddy. Not today. This is Tiger Fucking Woods' Day.
— Riggs (@RiggsBarstool) July 22, 2018
Live look at anyone not named Tiger Woods pic.twitter.com/wsuZJA2nyI
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) July 22, 2018
Tiger Woods wants Bama.
— Vanessa-Franchesca (@TheVFCastro) July 22, 2018
Tiger is actually gonna do it #theopen
— Adam Campbell (@adamcampbell_) July 22, 2018
He’s going to win this come on tiger #OpenChampionship
— Jason Tovey (@jtov10) July 22, 2018
Tiger is going to win this thing, isn't he?
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) July 22, 2018
Tiger is going to win this isn’t he?
— Curtis Stock (@CurtisJStock) July 22, 2018
halfway home and I have a feeling Tiger is going to win #TheOpen2018
— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby_L) July 22, 2018
First, what is the official threshold for Tiger being “back?” We love to spontaneously utter this declaration at times, but what does it really mean? Does his taking the lead late Sunday in a major officially mean Tiger is back? Is that all it takes? If we are really being honest, anything else but a major victory is going to be a disappointment for the consensus of Tiger fans who desperately want him to be back. I personally think that winning a major should be the threshold. Nevertheless, in light of Tiger’s result yesterday, the aforementioned tweets are concerning. Furthermore, given the fact that Tiger’s meltdown began immediately after the tweets were sent, we may have a serious problem on our hands. Did Twitter jinx a Tiger victory? With the exception of Skip Bayless’ tweet, which was almost certainly tweeted with the intent of “reversing” the jinx karma to sabotage Tiger, a player for whom Bayless has a well documented disdain, one can make a convincing argument that the celebratory tweets were, at the very least, reckless. While the jinx gods can be erratic, to think they didn’t take notice of the tweets would be foolish.
If Sunday’s performance did anything, it gave us hope that Tiger still has what it takes to finally get a major win. It gave us reason to believe that, sometime in the near future, Tiger will be in contention on another major Sunday. With this in mind, should we all as a collective whole, take a step back and analyze how we should communicate during the next Sunday Tiger run? It is a delicate situation. There has long been an unwritten code surrounding baseball fandom that if, during the middle of a game, a pitcher has not given up a single hit, one must not speak of a possible no-hitter, because it would jinx the pitcher. Not everyone follows it, but it is ingrained into the minds of most and many admonish those that dare to mention that a no-hitter is ongoing to remind the speaker that many don’t appreciate his or her unwillingness to accede to the proper standard of decorum. Why not implement this code of conduct for Tiger? Something should serve as a check to the hasty and imprudent tweets. I know it is a touchy subject. But, just think for a second: Do you want to be the person who costs Tiger his long-awaited major victory? Do you want to have to shoulder the weight of knowing that millions of people had been waiting for a moment like this for years and you ruined it by prematurely expressing your excitement with an undisciplined statement of victory? Just saying.
Fred Segal is an attorney from West Palm Beach, FL. He operates the popular Freezing Cold Takes twitter account (@OldTakesExposed) which highlights, among other things, hilarious unprophetic and inaccurate takes and predictions.