YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


It's Tiger's Book-of-the-Month Club

May 09, 1997|THOMAS BONK

Attention, bookworms. Today's question is: How many books should be written about a subject by the time he is 21?

Zero? Two? Four? One for every year of life?

As usual, in the case of Tiger Woods, there apparently can't be enough words, chapters, verses, introductions, acknowledgments, instructional wisdom, parental advice, bound reprints of previous articles or biographies about him.

Like his record-setting victory at the Masters, Woods is establishing standards in previously undeveloped territory as the subject matter in the literary department, golf division.

Current books about Woods number four with this week's release of the biography "Tiger," which is not only the newest to feature Woods, but also the best.

Written by Orange County Register sportswriter John Strege, "Tiger" had the cooperation of the Woods family, and it shows.

For instance, there is the neatly typed, one-sentence letter sent to Woods at Augusta National before Woods' first Masters in 1995 and forwarded to the family home in Cypress, which is where his mother opened it.

The letter, bearing a racial epithet, was postmarked from Florida, had no return address and said: "Just what we don't need, another . . . in sports."

Woods saved the letter for inspiration, just as Hank Aaron saved the negative letters he received when he was chasing Babe Ruth's home run record in 1973 and 1974.

As we should have learned then, certain unassailable standards in sports actually were made to be broken. In "Tiger," decide if maybe that's also Woods' legacy.


Four months into the PGA Tour schedule, it's not difficult to list the biggest success stories so far. It's Woods and everybody else. Actually, the first foursome, as well as the most underachieving foursome, are right there in front of us, bigger than the Biggest Big Bertha.


Top foursome:

Woods--Two victories, a major title at the Masters, second on the money list, four books about him on the shelves, what else do you need?

Steve Elkington--Two wins, leading the money list, allergies cleared up, he's primed.

Mark O'Meara--Also two wins, third on the money list, lives near Woods in Florida, so a winner by association.

Jesper Parnevik--Narrow choice over Brad Faxon because of consistency (12 events, seven top 10s including four second-place finishes and a third. No. 5 on the money list. Great cap.


Woody Austin--The 1995 rookie of the year has made one cut in 13 tournaments and is No. 158 on the money list.

Ben Crenshaw--Great work on TV, hurting on the golf course. Has made two cuts all year. Best finish was tie for 40th at New Orleans, where he holed out from the 18th fairway after hitting his previous ball into the water, thus saving par and making the cut by one shot.

Corey Pavin--Has made one cut (a tie for 43rd at Augusta) since he he tied for 51st at Riviera two months ago. One top 10 all year, a tie for eighth at the Mercedes Championships.

Steve Stricker--Last year's rising star has descended swiftly with no top 10s, five missed cuts and hasn't finished better than a tie for 27th.


The Tiger Principle continues to be practiced at golf tournaments. The idea is this: Woods shows up, the place fills up.

Next week, it's happening in Dallas, where the Byron Nelson Classic is going to sell out for the first time in its 30-year history.

In fact, tournament officials are so concerned about overcrowding that they won't print extra tickets and won't sell tickets at the gate.

The Nelson is expecting its first 100,000-spectator day, which would exceed the previous high by 25,000.


Why take the day off from work and play golf? Alien Sport, the clubmakers, came up with some pretty good reasons:

--Learn what CEOs, doctors and financial planners really do for a living.

--You cut class when you went to school: Don't let that training go to waste.

--All the great bartenders play golf on weekday afternoons.

--That problem at work will go away if you just ignore it.

--In golf, unlike sales, low numbers are a good thing.

--It's better to hit golf balls than supervisors.

--You need to scout local courses for future client entertainment.

--Statistics show that, until July, you're just working for the IRS anyway.

--Woods dropped out of school, doesn't have a job, and he's rich!


Add this to your list of clairvoyant quotes:

David Duval, after he shot a seven-under 65 to take the first-round lead of the Shell Houston Open last week, said, "I think a bit too much is made of first-round scores."

Maybe Duval felt more comfortable later after he played the last three rounds in three-over and finished tied for 15th.


After losing his PGA Tour card in 1994 when he missed 25 cuts in 30 tournaments, surviving qualifying school and being winless since 1988, credit Phil Blackmar with the right reaction to his victory last week at Houston.

"I was in a state of shock," Blackmar said. "I was thinking this is not time to go berserk."

Los Angeles Times Articles