The Curse of the Bimbino bites Tiger

BY Jason Whitlock • July 21, 2013

In the wake of his latest weekend choke job — a piss-poor performance in Sunday’s final round of the British Open — I’m done overthinking Tiger Woods.

This is Karma. Bad Karma. This is "The Curse of the Bimbino."

Tiger won’t get 86 years to overcome it. I won’t live long enough to write, "Now I Can Die in Peace II: How FOX Sports’ Big Sexy Found Salvation With a Little Help From Tiger, Lindsey, The Wire and the PGA Tour."

Tiger ain’t getting 18. Hell, he may not get 15. The Curse of the Bimbino is that strong. It might be as powerful as The Curse of the Bambino, the plague that overtook the Boston Red Sox after they sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

In the seven years before selling Ruth, the Sox won four World Series titles. In the next 86 years, the Yankees won 26 titles (30 percent) and the Red Sox won zero.

Before Rachel Uchitel became a household name, before Perkins restaurant became a pickup joint, before a gaggle of porn stars and bimbos copped to seeing Tiger’s Wood, Tiger was every bit as dominant as the Ruth-led Red Sox.

Tiger was going to smash The Golden Bear’s record of 18 major championships. Tiger was on pace for 20 and elevating himself and golf to a place alongside Ruth, Jordan and Ali as the greatest of the greatest.

Not now. It’s over. TheGolferFormerlyKnownAsTiger has reverted to Eldrick. He’s a damn good golfer, capable of contending in every tournament. But he’s not someone who is going to dominate a weekend in a major. Eldrick feels pressure and succumbs to it.

At 37 and in the aftermath of Thanksgiving 2009, Eldrick is more Bill Buckner than Mariano Rivera. Don’t forget Buckner was a fine player. He won a batting title, retired with nearly 3,000 hits, had 102 RBI in 1986 and started Boston’s ninth-inning rally in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

I’m not insulting Eldrick comparing him to Buckner, the goat of the 1986 World Series. I’m saying Eldrick is human and susceptible to choking in big moments. Before The Curse of the Bimbino that was not the case.

Before The Curse, Eldrick would’ve birdied the par-5 17th hole on Saturday and headed into the final round in the last group with a share of the lead. Woods is virtually unbeatable from the pole position after 54 holes. Instead, Woods made an absolute mess of 17. From the fairway, he cracked his second shot right and into a bunker, forcing him to gingerly blast out his third shot, 90 yards from the flag. He knocked his fourth to the edge of the green, 12 feet from the hole. He two-putted for bogey.

He played his way out of the last group. He’s never won a major without holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.

We should’ve seen Sunday coming. Woods foreshadowed his performance late Saturday. With a chance to seize psychological control of the British Open by taking advantage of a par 5 — a feat Tiger Woods could accomplish blindfolded — Eldrick Woods botched it and relegated himself to a Sunday playing alongside his bitter, fired caddie, Stevie Williams, now Adam Scott’s caddie.

This is what a curse looks like. Whatever can go wrong usually does. Remember the perfect shot Woods hit on 15 at Augusta National this year, the one that nailed the flag, rolled into the water and killed his momentum?

So what could be worse than Stevie Williams bagging his 15th major championship before Woods?

Phil Mickelson winning his fifth major and moving one leg away from a career grand slam by doing what Woods seemingly can’t do.

Mickelson started the day five strokes off the lead. He won by three strokes, firing an unforgettable 66. He birdied four of the last six holes. This was Mickelson writing his signature moment. This was Lefty imitating John Elway, orchestrating "The Drive for Five." Meanwhile, Eldrick, who started the day two strokes off the lead, fumbled, shooting three-over-par 74.

"I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing, there’s no doubt," Woods told reporters after his sixth-place finish. "I’m right there and I hit a ton of good shots this week, and the only thing that I would look back on this week is I just never got the speed (of the greens) after the first day, because it progressively got slower."

That’s what delusion sounds like. Eldrick’s third-shot chip on the par-5 ninth hole is quite possibly the worst shot of his professional career. He was 30 feet from the flag and just off the green.

ESPN’s Paul Azinger called the shot "easy" and said Woods had a chance at eagle. The ball spun left off his stick, scooted in the air 2 feet and rolled 10 feet from the flag. Woods bailed himself out, making the birdie putt, but he clearly had far more problems than the speed of the greens on Sunday. He struggled with his nerves. He shot a somewhat respectable 74 because he’s still the most talented player in the world.

However, he’s cursed. There’s no other reasonable explanation for his 43-year-old, good-natured nemesis playing the role of the New York Yankees and benefitting the most from his descent.

Mickelson is the anti-Tiger Woods. Lefty broke down in tears hugging his longtime caddie, fell into the arms of his beautiful, cancer-beating wife and three kids, boosted his image as a great golf champion and unintentionally further cemented Eldrick’s reputation as a total front-runner. The story of this British Open is just as much as Eldrick’s flaws and failings as Mickelson’s grit and ascension.

The Curse of the Bimbino.

This isn’t age or injury doing in Woods. This is Karma. This is a scorned woman who left her ex-husband’s fate in the hands of Karma’s force.

Eldrick deserves this. Before I go on, let me remind you of three things: 1. I’m a huge Tiger Woods fan. After Magic Johnson, he’s my favorite athlete of all time. 2. I don’t like passing judgment on anyone’s personal life. 3. I think monogamy is a bogus, man-made creation.

Having said that, what Eldrick did to his ex-wife was cruel. Since the beginning of time, smart men and women have taken care of their extra-curricular activities without making complete fools of their partners. Eldrick handled his business like an insensitive idiot.

He handled his relationship with his ex-wife in a fashion consistent with the way he allegedly treats people he deems beneath him. For years, I’ve frequented the same Las Vegas casinos and clubs that Eldrick used to prowl. I’m friends with numerous casino, club and restaurant employees who all tell a consistent and persistent story about Woods. He treats people poorly and it goes well beyond bad tipping.

I believe in Karma. Negative energy and dishonesty eventually catch up with you.

Sunday, as I watched Woods implode from the first hole, I questioned why I’m still this emotionally invested in an athlete I don’t really respect as a kind human being. Am I really that greedy to witness history?

And if I am, why not root to see a different kind of history in the making? If Eldrick Woods never wins another major, this could be greatest sports curse since the Red Sox sold Ruth.

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