Chris Baldwin This Week at July 19, 2005

A 5-year-old Tiger Woods
would destroy Michelle Wie

The 5-year-old Tiger Woods digitally transplanted onto the Old Course in that new Nike commercial likely knew more about winning than Michelle Wie ever will.

The kid with the great smile on his face whacking that orange ball with that mini wood displays an obvious joy and feel for the game that not even Nike turning it into a sentimental wallet-grab can take away from. In other words, kindergarten Tiger shows two of the qualities lacking in golf's latest prodigy, the endlessly overhyped, no-win Wie.

This is worth mentioning because in the wake of Tiger Woods' victory Sunday at St. Andrews, his 10th major title, and Wie doing just enough not to do anything significant at the Amateur Public Links, the golf world still somehow remains out of kilter. For Woods continues to be targeted by doubters, while Wie is treated like she walks on water. (Come to think of it, she might find that easier than actually winning a tournament.)

When Managing Editor Mark Nessmith used this spot last week to muse that there's no downside to Wie mania because he enjoyed staring at Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue as a teenager, I chalked it up to the happy, mad mutterings of a man who lives in a castle in Europe with two women at his beck and call. (For more on this, stay tuned to the continuing series on the ultimate Bad Golfer's lesson plan.)

But when you turn on ESPN Sunday night, post Claret Jug raising, and the commentator starts talking about Tiger Woods kind of proving something, well, it's not just one fool in a castle anymore. Kind of proved something? Let's get this straight: Tiger Woods has nothing to prove. He's passed Ben Hogan in career majors now, passed him like Hogan was some sort of hack waiting for a game at the local muni rather than one of the legends of the game. He has 10 majors at the point Jack Nicklaus had seven. Woods won the British Open going away despite the fact that his putter backfired as often as a '78 Pinto in Sunday's final round.

Tiger Woods is done needing to justify his game ever again. Tiger says he needs to completely revamp his swing for the third time? Go for it. Tiger elects to hire another psychotic caddy? Tom Cruise perhaps? More power to him. Tiger decides he wants to make babies with the Swedish nanny? Buy him a diaper bag, don't put him on the couch.

Enough with the psycho babble over Tiger Woods. He knows better than you. That's why he is Tiger.

Woods deserves the kind of fawning treatment Wie's been getting. He's actually earned it. He's done more than look cute and, as blogger Jennifer Mario breathlessly explains of Wie, "almost" make cuts in historic fashion.

Which is why I'd take that 5-year-old Tiger in a matchup with the 15-year-old Wie any day.

Sure, he couldn't hit it very far with that mini wood, but he'd find a way to win. Even if he had to spit Cheerios at Wie as she putted. And Wie'd find a way to squander her huge talent edge - even if she had a two-footer to go 8-up. He's Tiger, she's Wie. That's the truth of your legacies.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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