So, just how much Tiger coverage is too much?

04/15/2010 12:00 AM |

Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s wrong with society and our values today? Among other things, how about the heroes we look up to?

In the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, world-renowned philanderer Tiger Woods, returning to competition after a five-month hiatus, outdistanced the field by a 600-yard par-5 when it came to media hype and coverage. Far more attention was given to Woods and his self-admitted problem of sex addiction than to Phil Mickelson, arguably the world’s most popular golfer.

Mickelson has had a few things on his plate lately. Phil’s wife, Amy, and his mother, Mary, are both battling breast cancer. The majority of the media coverage during the early rounds of the Masters was focused on Woods, barely giving Mickelson and the other players in the field a blip on the radar screen in comparison to the over-the-top coverage afforded Woods.

Sex addiction, breast cancer. Hmmm.

It seemed most media outlets were willing to give Woods as much coverage and adulation as possible. Could it be that some insecure media folks were worried about losing their access to King Tiger if they didn’t kiss up and play nice?

At the conclusion of last Thursday’s first round of play, the lead story should have been about the two geezers on top of the leaderboard, 50-year-old Fred Couples and 60-year-old Tom Watson. It was not to be. Woods’ first-round score of 68, tying him for seventh place, was the headliner. And guess whose picture took up half of page 1 in Friday’s New York Times sports section? You got it. Woods.

ESPN even had one of those ridiculous clocks on the screen counting down the time until Tiger’s first tee shot of the opening round. ESPN reporter Scott Van Pelt, at one point, reminded us that there were 95 other players trying to win the green jacket. Thanks, Scott. We were beginning to think this was a one-man tournament.

Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood had the lead going into the weekend with Phil Mickelson, Ricky Barnes, K. J. Choi and Tiger Woods all tied for third. Need I tell you whose huge photo the New York Times, again, had gracing the first page of the sports section? To their credit, Mickelson and the other players handled the back-seat treatment with resigned acceptance and class.

CBS took over television coverage of the tournament on Saturday with anchors Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo opening with a 10-minute spiel about Woods. The leader at the time, Westwood, was given 30 seconds. Checking in with, it was all Tiger.

Richie Sylvester of Southold said he was pleased to see Masters chairman, Billy Payne, “call out” Woods and his womanizing. “I was glad to see some attention being paid to the other players in contention over the weekend,” Sylvester added. It took Mickelson’s exciting round of 67 on Saturday to get the cameras off Tiger — at least for a few minutes.

The tournament, fortunately, had a storybook ending on Sunday with Mickelson winning his third Masters title. Woods finished tied for fourth, five strokes behind Mickelson. There weren’t many dry eyes in the house when Phil hugged his wife, Amy, on the 18th green after his victory.

“No one was more deserving of the win than Phil, especially under the circumstances,” Alice Culver of Peconic said. “He’s a credit to the game of golf and a real people-person.”

When asked about the coverage Woods received, Culver responded, “There’s usually too much coverage of Tiger Woods.”

Retired Southold teacher Kevin Leavey was thrilled. “I’m glad Phil won and surprised Tiger did as well as he did,” Leavey said.

Bill Dewey of Southold commented, “After days of Tiger, Tiger, Tiger, I was happy to see the front-page pictures of Phil and Amy.”

Tiger Woods certainly brings excitement to the game, but why does the sleaze-driven media persist in wallowing in the sludge? Why are so many popular and classy golfers put on the back burner when Tiger is on the prowl? Equal time would be nice, don’t you think?

Sadly, in today’s world, the cream doesn’t always rise to the top and those who stray from the good and decent seem to be the ones who are honored, rewarded and revered — at least in this life.

Mickelson’s win was a great win for golf, a great win for decency, a great win for what is truly good. The cream, thank goodness, rose to the top at this year’s Masters.