Keeping up with the Jones: Mac the Knife strikes again

By |  May 7, 2019 0 Comments
Seth Jones headshot (Photo: Golfdom)

Seth Jones

The saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” And man, did Tiger Woods fool me!

For the past couple years, Golfdom Publisher Craig MacGregor and I have had a friendly back-and-forth, making small $5 bets while we’re traveling. We’ll bet over such trivial things as the over/under on that evening’s Monday Night Football game, or even if we’ll be able to get a seat at the bar. For a long stretch, I was the winner of every bet.

Now I’m starting to think that ‘Mac’ was just working a long hustle because suddenly I find myself bleeding money to him. It started in December when I lost $100 to him on a weight loss challenge (agonizingly, he beat me by less than one percentage point of weight), and now I owe him another Benjamin based on Tiger’s recent win at Augusta.

I bet Mac that Tiger would never win another major, back when it looked like Tiger’s playing days might be over, based on health issues. I thought it was a surefire bet, my only concern being how long it would take to pay off based on Tiger dragging his broken body to the first tee of every major for the next 20 years. But I also told Mac that if I ever did lose that bet, I would pay it off with a smile … because it meant Tiger won another major!

It’s hard not to overdramatize the unlikelihood of Tiger’s Masters win. At this year’s Golf Writers Association of America annual dinner, Woods accepted the 2019 Ben Hogan award, given to a player who overcomes a serious injury to remain active in golf. Tiger gave a six-minute acceptance speech the day before the Masters began and talked about how dire his physical health was before his final spinal fusion surgery.

“Golf was not in my near future or even the distant future,” Woods said. “I knew I was going to be a part of the game again, but playing the game again? I couldn’t even do that with my son Charlie. I couldn’t putt in the backyard.”

The guy who can’t putt in the backyard with his little boy is going to come back and defeat the big boys on the PGA Tour — the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka? It’s just not going to happen, right? Until it did.

I remember talking to Jared Brewster, then the assistant superintendent at Bellerive CC in St. Louis, now the superintendent at Highland Springs CC in Springfield, Mo. I asked him who he wanted to see win the PGA Championship that was about to be played at his course. “(Tiger) needs another major,” Brewster said to me. “He’s the whole reason I do what I do; he’s the player who got me into this great game.”

There are many of us like Brewster, who got into golf because of Tiger or saw success in our careers partly because of Tiger. Seeing Woods’ name back at the top of the leaderboard, and closing the deal, means so much to the game of golf and the people who work in the business. Tiger is simply good for the industry. Even last year, golf TV ratings jumped 30 percent in tournaments in which Tiger played, according to the National Golf Foundation’s recently released 2019 Golf Industry Report.

The early Sunday start time hurt TV viewership for the final round of the Masters, but there was still a spike as Tiger neared the end of his round, according to Golf.com, making for the highest peak rating since 2013. Probably more telling, Golf Digest reported that video of Tiger’s winning putt at the Masters has 7 million more views online than Patrick Reed’s winning putt in 2018.

So congratulations to Tiger on his 15th major victory. Congratulations to Mac on winning another $100 off me. And congratulations to golf — we’ve got Tiger back.

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