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SI's latest on Tiger: Purposeful or Palaver?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member


    It's entitled "The Meaning of Pebble Beach," which would make you think it's about the meaning of Phil winning Sunday while Tiger fell apart. But that's a launching pad for a surprisingly long piece - twice as long as Torre's Lin profile - with several moving parts - mostly focusing on Tiger.

    Perhaps I'm a bit unfair in pitching the topic as an either/or, but SI pitched this as meaningful with the headline, and it's more of a thinkpiece than "this is what happened at Pebble Beach." Did you find it meaningful, or a writer just pumping his writerly muscles?
  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    First thing's first: Pablo S. Torre's Jeremy Lin feature is 2,452 words; Michael Bamberger's Tiger Woods analysis is 2,747. The SI.com Vault breaks things into separate pages based on paragraphs, and Torre wrote very long paragraphs.

    I think the story serves as a sort of season preview. It attempts to answer an unanswerable question on the minds of many golf fans, What's Tiger Woods going to do this year? There's nothing wrong with that. But I don't think it provided a lot of new information.

    The story was written well, but the best anecdote was from Henrik Stenson about a 2007 encounter. That story led to the direct issue with the piece: "There's a wall around Tiger, mostly of his own making. The wall is part of who he is. ... Nobody really knows Tiger."

    There was a lot of projected thought in this analysis piece that I doubted greatly. There was a middle section about Woods' new swing approach that, perhaps, provided new information but hardly fit the bill as a Big Thoughts idea. But mostly, Bamberger projected. There's not anything particularly wrong with that except how wrong we've all consistently been about Woods' career when we've tried to project it.

    I'm made a little uneasy by the fact that Bamberger, along with Alan Shipnuck, recently wrote a fictionalized account of a golfer's attempt to return to the top after a personal tragedy. Bamberger is a professional, one of the better golf writers working, but you can't help but wonder if he has his own ideas planted in his head about how this comeback thing will work.

    He didn't defend his point of view very well, mostly because he chose not to defend it. Moreover, he projected and barely wrote about what actually happened. I preferred this piece by SI colleague Joe Posnanski, which examined what went right and wrong for Woods at Pebble Beach.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I was turned off by the assessment of Mickelson, saying that the rest of his season was gravy thanks to winning Pebble and that he was putting himself in the argument for top-25 all time in golf (forget the exact phrasing).

    If Mickelson doesn't do anything else this year, it will be a disappointment given the big game he's showing right now. And he's now ninth on the PGA Tour all-time in wins, with four majors. That's top-10 argument stuff; top 25 is a given.

    Shipnuck's corresponding story on Phil in SIGolfPlus said the win put him in a tie all-time with Cary Middlecoff and Tom Watson, when in fact it broke the tie and moved Phil ahead. I wonder what tournament all these guys were watching.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    As I understand it, it put Mickelson in a tie with Middlecoff for ninth and broke his tie with Watson and Gene Sarazen. I'm betting Bamberger, and many others, would rank Gary Player or Lee Trevino ahead of Mickelson without thinking twice.
  5. Mickelson > Middlecoff
    Mickelson < Sarazen and Watson

    And after reading Pos' piece I think Woods' comeback will never happen. He will never again be the No. 1 golfer in the world.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    No, Phil is solo ninth all-time. (edit: just PGA Tour wins, not worldwide)


    Certainly you can make arguments for Player, Trevino, others ahead of Phil. But he's well inside the top 25 all-time, for my money.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I like Bamberger's work a great deal. But this, to me, read a bit like he decided Tiger was going to be the story no matter what happened at the tourney, and doubled down on that strategy when Woods looked like he might win on Sat. To be honest I would have preferred if he had saved that Woods stuff for a story down the road (Masters preview?) and focused on Phil here. Maybe deadlines made that tough though. I have no problem with a think piece about Woods, I just think the one thing that could've made me more interested in the winner actually happened. And then it feels a bit like sandwiching a Tiger story into what should be a Phil story.

    Not trying to knock Bamberger. He's great. It's a tough call. I'm just weary of the "Tiger is the reason we watch, no matter what" angle.

    I did like the kicker of the story a great deal.
  8. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    But isn't this what all reporting about golf has been the last two years, waiting for Tiger to return? Nowhere was it more evident than last Sunday night. Think about it: Mickelson shoots a 64 on one of the top courses in the country. Wins his 40th PGA event. And while there are some out there who still won't give Mickelson his due, he was the major story that day, not Tiger. Yet that's what so much of the reporting was.
  9. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    You both make a lot of sense. I'm not a person who thinks the media ever owes it to someone to cover them. We chase the big story, and sometimes that's the loser or the runner-up. But Phil Mickelson isn't Charl Schwartzel. He's the No. 2 golfer in the world, in terms of public interest. A Mickelson-focused story would have made more sense. But I don't mind that Sports Illustrated stepped out of its shell a little bit and gave a writer rope.

    It's rare for Sports Illustrated to allow for an extended analysis piece, and it's nice to see. It stands out as a strange decision more, undoubtably, because Mickelson has such a good story and serves as such a good draw for readers.

    Bamberger obviously wasn't focused on Pebble Beach with his story, and he drew little more than a time peg and a renewed relevance out of the tournament in order to write his analysis piece on Tiger Woods. The story was mislabeled; it clearly did not represent "The Meaning of Pebble Beach," instead focusing on what's after the pro-am. But that wasn't Bamberger's fault. The headline writer created a false expectation, leading the reader to think it would be a Pebble Beach-centered story focusing on the current status of the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson rivalry. That would have been a hell of a story to take from last weekend.

    But Bamberger chose a different path, and you can understand why he chose it: Woods is still a big deal, and he has looked renewed on the course during the past three months. And it's very likely that Bamberger seized on Woods' success in the first three rounds and entrenched himself in the reporting and writing of this particular story, the broad think-piece on Woods' future. Sports Illustrated missed a great story about Mickelson or the Mickelson-Woods rivalry, and Bamberger's piece fell flat.

    In an otherwise outstanding issue (the stories on Wes Leonard, Jeremy Lin and Brad Marchand are outstanding, and I really enjoyed Steve Rushin's take on LeBron James), the lead feature fell flat.
  10. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    If Lucas Glover had shot 64 in the final round to win Pebble with Tiger as a partner, I would have understood the emphasis on Tiger. But he was playing with Phil, for crap sake, who shouldn't be in Tiger's shadow any longer.

    Consider this, from Tour stats: Phil and Tiger have been paired (or grouped, when they part of a threesome) 30 times. In terms of lowest score, Tiger started out 10-5-3 against Phil. In the last dozen cases, Phil is 8-3-1, and 5-0 when the pairing or grouping has been on a Sunday.

    I'm in agreement with people who are puzzled why Eldrick has to ALWAYS be the story.
  11. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I can sure understand why one would be puzzled.

    But I just find that, after the soap opera of the past four years, I'm more of a subscriber to the Doug Ferguson theory than ever: It's what Tiger does, says or eats for dinner, and downward from there.
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