(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Hardy: Golf Shouldn’t Need Tiger Woods To Be Compelling, But It Does

As I watched Tiger Woods at last weekend’s Valspar Championship, I was reminded of a poem from Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Ok, I wasn’t reminded of the poem. I was reminded of a scene from the Rodney Dangerfield movie “Back to School,” when Thornton Melon recites the poem for his final exam. Whatever.

The point is, that’s Tiger. He’s raging against the dying of the light.

By all accounts, he should be done. Despite his stellar 2013, when he won 5 times and took PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, he’s been largely absent from golf’s major stages since he won the U.S. Open nearly 10 years ago.

Sure, he’s been front and center on the Domestic Strife, Broken Back and Driving Around On Pills stages, but those aren’t the roles he wants to play. No one wants him cast in those roles. He should be forever typecast as the steely eyed birdie machine, the guy who broke course records and broke the spirit of whoever he was paired with, while inspiring others to become the next version of him.

But, as we’ve heard so often with regard to Tom Brady, age is undefeated. It’s not a question of if, but when. Golfers have a longer shelf life than most professional game players, but winning consistently after the age of 40 is rare.

Still, there he was on Sunday. Draining a 43 foot birdie putt on 17 to get within one stroke of the lead, eventually settling for a second place tie behind winner Paul Casey. He broke par in all four rounds of the tournament for the first time since that outstanding 2013 season. No, he didn’t win. But for the first time in ages, he gave us the sense that he could win. That he would win. That he wouldn’t go gentle into that good night of endorsements, Ryder Cup coaching and the Champions Tour.

Convinced I was onto something, I read the rest of that Dylan Thomas poem and found this section. (ok, ok, I watched “Back to School” again):

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Holy smokes. It IS about Tiger. The father, the curses, the blessings. It’s all him. And it’s what so many people want and need to maintain an interest in a sport that’s been looking for the next Tiger. Maybe, just maybe, the next Tiger is the previous Tiger.

Golf shouldn’t need Tiger Woods to be compelling, but it does. And more selfishly, I need him to be relevant. If only to make my Saturday and Sunday golf viewing more entertaining, but also to give another old guy a little bit of hope.

-- By Rob "Hardy" Poole, 98.5 The Sports Hub

You can hear Hardy's thoughts weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on the Zolak & Bertrand program. Follow him on Twitter @Hardy985.