It’s been 20 years since Tiger Woods took the golf world by storm at The Masters, and he’s just written a book about the experience as another tournament approaches in Augusta.

Tiger Woods, The 1997 MastersWoods, who turned 41 in December, continues to battle long-term injuries that may prevent him from competing again at The Masters next week. It’s been nine years since he last won a major tournament, and the last time he slipped on a green jacket at Augusta was 2005.

In the midst of the last decade, Woods was primed to achieve his ultimate quest of surpassing Jack Nicklaus as the all-time leader in major victories.

 

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Also In This Issue: The Afflictions of Gale Sayers and Dwight Clark; Bidding Adieu to Joe Louis Arena; Remembering Jerry Krause and Jimmy Breslin

After injuries and the disastrous public fallout of his personal life, including a divorce, Woods remains four short of that mark, at 14, and regaining full-time status on the PGA Tour seems increasingly unlikely.

In “The 1997 Masters: My Story,” Woods details the stunning weekend of his first major championship, but little else, and he made the rounds in New York on Monday, when the book was officially published.

Golf writers weren’t expecting much insight from Woods about what’s happened to his life since then. Michael Bamberger was disappointed the new book (ghosted by Lorne Rubenstein) doesn’t offer a glimpse into the mind of Tiger during what Phil Knight famously called “golf’s Jackie Robinson moment.” Instead, Bamberger writes, what’s between the covers is bland and predictable:

“Woods is a master at the connection between method and outcome, as many athletes are. But I don’t believe that words, spoken and written, are anything he treasures.”

Much has been made of Woods’ increasingly receding hairline, which he treated with just enough good humor, and this is how much of his public career has gone. Storylines are just as important to sporting legends as they are to media outlets that need to perpetuate them for ratings and clicks, and Woods continues to be “good copy,” as the old newspaper phrase goes.

Woods doesn’t owe it to anyone to open up, even about his mind as a golfer, and even as his stunning arrival 20 years ago this week continues to fascinate. What we saw this week, and what can be gleaned from a 300-plus-page memoir, might be all anyone outside a tight inner circle will ever be allowed to understand about one of the most compelling, and elusive, athletes of our time.

A Few Good Reads

  • Some devastating revelations last weekend about two NFL legends: Gale Sayers is battling dementia, and Dwight Clark announced he’s been diagnosed with ALS. The news brought up a spate of fresh stories about suspected links between brain trauma and football players, including the 1985 Chicago Bears beyond the struggles of QB Jim McMahon;Gale Sayers, Sayers My Life and Times
  • And there’s this about another former Bear (and football TV sideline reporter) Mike Adamle and how he’s dealing with memory loss at the age of 67;
  • Christian Laettner’s shot heard ‘round the college basketball world (and beyond) was 25 years ago this week, and ESPN’s Dana O’Neil takes a look back at the Duke-Kentucky classic that even by the sizable hoops standards of Philadelphia is legendary;
  • Pat Forde also revisits that game from the men who played on the losing side, catching up with the “Unforgettables” and how they’re faring today;
  • As if their playing and coaching talent wasn’t enough, the fitness routine of UConn women’s basketball team will truly kick your ass;
  • Reading the deadline work of my friend Chuck Culpepper, who writes these days about college sports for The Washington Post, is always something to savor, especially when the topic is March Madness;
  • The Texas Program in Sports and Media at the University of Texas has created an honor in the name of Sports Illustrated legend Dan Jenkins. The Jenkins Medal will be awarded for lifetime achievement in sportswriting and for excellence in sportswriting for each calendar year. The jurors include his daughter, Sally Jenkins, columnist for The Washington Post, the aforementioned Culpepper and other present-day luminaries of the profession;
  • Baseball before it became what we know it today, from the age of the pharaohs to late 19th century Elysian Fields of Hoboken;
  • Ready to go after a heartbreaking World Series loss, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is increasingly being regarded as one of baseball’s best communicators;The Cinema of Hockey, Iri Cermak
  • Longtime Detroit sportswriter Michael Rosenberg bids farewell to Joe Louis Arena, which the Red Wings are vacating for a new downtown facility they’ll share with the Pistons. If you want some memorabilia from the old place, be patient;
  • From the U.S. Sport History blog, a review of “The Cinema of Hockey,” recently released in paperback;
  • During the recent NBA All-Star game San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard held a viewing party for a documentary film about Earl Lloyd, one of the first black players in the NBA. Leonard is executive producer of “The First To Do It,” which will be released at the start of next season;
  • How much did indigenous peoples contribute to the development of Aussie Rules Football?
  • Harry Edwards has spent spent a half-century helping athletes become politically active, and his latest idea along these lines is to establish a think tank, an expansion of their “platform,” if you will.

Passings
Jerry Krause, 77, the “architect” who put together the Chicago Bulls dynasty and a finalist for the 2017 class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, is remembered by Sam Smith, Roland Lazenby and Adrian Wojnarowski. Krause had a famous falling out with Phil Jackson, now the Knicks general manager, who issued a statement;

John Schulian on the gifts bestowed to him by Jimmy Breslin, 77, the iconic New York City journalist whose earlier career included a stint as a sportswriter at the Long Island Press. Among Breslin’s books was “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” which has been dubbed the “Mets Bible” by W.M. Akers. In The Observer, Akers recalls how Breslin turned the story of the catastrophic first season by the Mets in 1962 into a treatise of sorts on the travails of daily living:Can't Anybody Here Play This Game, Jimmy Breslin

“Listen, mister. Think a little bit. When was the last time you won anything out of life?”

Chuck Berry died the day after Breslin; Will Bunch writes about their deaths and the Great American Middle Class of Baby Boomers they appealed to in the years after World War II;

Dallas Green, 82, was the manager of the first Philadelphia Phillies team to win a World Series in 1980, and was later general manager of the Chicago Cubs. In his later years, admiration for the well-liked Green grew in the wake of the death of his granddaughter, a victim of the Tucson shooting massacre in 2011;

Ronnie Moran, 83, was a playing and boot room legend for Liverpool FC, and whose nickname was Mr. Liverpool, a tremendous affirmation of his impact operating as he did under Bill Shankly.

* * * * * * * *

I will be at the NCAA Women’s Final Four next week, so that’s why there won’t be a newsletter. On the other side, when I get back, I’ll dig deeper into new baseball books and reviews of books I’ve read over the winter, as well as what else is coming up in sports books, history and culture in the North American spring and summer.

Thanks for subscribing to the Sports Biblio Digest. Happy reading!

The Sports Biblio Digest is an e-mail newsletter delivered each Sunday. It contains commentary and links about sports books and history. You can subscribe here and search the archives. This is Digest issue No. 77, published March 26, 2017. The Digest is a companion to the Sports Biblio website.

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