John Feinstein is a golf writer who has come to his senses. He says that golf will survive without a Grand Slam by Tiger Woods. He points out that the focus on Woods keeps us from appreciating other players:
The sad thing about that is there is a tendency not to credit those who beat him (it hasn’t been a long list lately), but rather to talk about what Woods didn’t do well. Immelman is an extremely worthy champion, a rising young player with a superb golf swing who fought off the nerves anyone is going to have trying to win his first major, while being chased by Woods, to make several clutch putts on the back nine—most notably the 20-footer from off the green at the 11th that allowed him to have enough cushion to handle a splash-down double bogey at the 16th.
Immelman is 28, which means he’s the only player in the world under 30 currently holding a major title. He’s the first South African to win the Masters since Gary Player won his third in 1978. There’s a sweet symmetry to his relationship with Player, not only because Player has been a mentor to him but because Player set the all-time record by teeing it up in his 51st Masters while Immelman was winning his first. Add in Immelman coming back four months after surgery to remove a tumor from his diaphragm and you have a wonderful story.
Except (and this really isn’t anyone’s fault) all the questions aren’t about Immelman leading from wire-to-wire but about Woods not winning. That’s just the way it is in golf these days. Years ago, when Arnold Palmer was trying to win one last time near the end of his career, he was caught from behind at the Hawaiian Open by a pro named Gary Groh. The lead on the wire story that day was, “Arnie lost again.” Groh was mentioned somewhere in the third paragraph.