No matter the score, Tiger Woods still matters to golf

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DUBLIN, Ohio -- They surrounded the 18th green at Muirfield Village Golf Club, spectators lined several rows deep, the leaders hours away from even teeing off Sunday, let alone getting to the finishing hole of the Memorial Tournament.

And they stood and cheered as Tiger Woods walked off that green having just made another double-bogey, about to sign for his highest 72-hole score as a pro.

Why were they here to take in the man who would finish last?


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Better question: Why were so many packed around the first tee before 8 a.m. on Sunday to watch a man coming off a career-worst 85 to play a solo round of golf with nothing at stake?

Surely they weren't in attendance to witness the train wreck that occurred Saturday. Nor were they here to see any kind of history, the kind for which Woods is far better known.

Perhaps there is a bigger-picture question: Will we ever not care about Tiger, even if he is at his worst, seemingly lost and so far removed from his glory days?

The answer is no, even amid the primal screams of outrage from those who wonder why we continue to chronicle the exploits of Woods, who is getting dangerously close to falling out of the top 200 in the world and seems miles away from regaining his form.

The reason is as simple as the reply given by Joe LaCava back in the fall of 2011. The long-time caddie for Fred Couples, LaCava earlier that year had started working for Dustin Johnson, who contended that summer at the Open Championship.

Woods, meanwhile, sat out four months with knee and Achilles injuries. He missed the U.S. Open and Open Championship, returned for two tournaments, and then didn't play again until the fall. LaCava decided to leave Johnson -- one of the game's up-and-coming players -- and came to work for Woods, whose future was very much in doubt.


"Because it's Tiger Woods," LaCava said then.

And that is the perfect answer.

Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

He's won more majors in his career (14) than he has missed cuts (13). He's won 79 PGA Tour titles. He once won four majors in a row. Two years ago, he was player of the year and won five times. And he hasn't won a major championship going on seven years.