Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Using Word Clouds to Examine Media Coverage of Tiger

I made four word clouds about Tiger Woods for the years 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2012 using 4-5 articles from each year.  The word clouds show the progression of the media’s coverage of Tiger at different points in his career.  The clouds range from coverage of Tiger’s explosive entrance into the golf world to the collapse of his personal life.  The words that are larger in size mean that they were used more frequently than the smaller words.  I left out Tiger’s name when I made the word clouds since it tended to dominate the infographics.  

1997

1997

2002

2002

2009

2009

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Will Tiger Win Again?

You bet he will.

There’s no doubt that Tiger Woods will win again, and before his career is over, he’ll have surpassed Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.

Tiger’s greatness is backed up by his lengthy list of career wins, many of which seemed effortless as he blew the competition away.  Although he’s been in a slump for quite some time, there’s no indication that Tiger can’t win again.  He’s strong and healthy, showing no signs of recurring knee problems.  Now, his biggest obstacle is himself. 

While I remain optimistic about Tiger’s future, many of his fans and even his fellow golfers are doubting his abilities and questioning his game.   

In an interview in September 2011, golf great Greg Norman said he didn’t think Tiger would ever win another major.  He said that when Tiger was playing his best, his sole focus was golf.  ”Now there are so many distractions, and people are looking for things that are wrong with Tiger now, so he’s got to deal with that on a day-to-day basis, like every other mortal has to do, right?” Norman said.  

Tiger’s focus is still as strong as ever.  Just because he was number one in the world and seemingly unstoppable doesn’t mean he didn’t deal with distractions of all sorts.  Sure, more recently he’s been sidetracked by his off the course personal problems as well as a knee injury and a major swing change, but he hasn’t lost sight of his goals.  

Others, like golf commentator, David Feherty, weren’t so quick to write Tiger off.  ”That is the one thing that Tiger Woods doesn’t need to learn at all is how to win,” Feherty said.  ”He’s probably better at it than pretty much anybody who has ever played.  It’s just a question of he’s gone through a period that would destroy most people’s careers…But he has the strength and the willpower unlike anything that I’ve ever seen.”  

Asked time and time again about Tiger, Jack Nicklaus has said he thinks Tiger will beat his record.  ”How could you not pick him?  I mean he’s Tiger Woods, he’s the best player in the game.  He may not be playing his best today, but he’s still Tiger Woods,” Nicklaus said. 

The fact that the suspense of Tiger’s future has drawn such an interest from both fans and naysayers shows his dominance in the golf world.  All we can do now is wait and see what Tiger does on the course.  The Masters, coming up in April, will be an exciting tournament that fans and critics alike should watch to see how Tiger handles himself in the first major of the year.            

Watching Tiger shoot a 62 and tie for second place in the final round of the Honda Classic today, it was apparent that he played with more confidence.  He was sinking long birdie putts, playing more aggressively and fist pumping, much to the delight of the crowd who roared at his performance.  Though he still doesn’t consistently play like the Tiger we all know and miss, today he showed a spark and a fierceness representative of his old self, something that reassures me Tiger’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  His days of dominance and fist pumps are far from over. 

Photo from: http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/pga/news?slug=ma-08golfstorylines122908

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tiger Woods: Hero to Human

When Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 at the age of 20, it wasn’t long before he began dominating the world of golf.  In 1997, he became the youngest golfer to ever win the Masters.  Woods even won the 2008 U.S. Open in a playoff after a dramatic comeback all the while enduring excruciating pain as he played with a bum left knee. Tiger was the best and it seemed like there wasn’t anybody or any thing that could stop him.

Some of Tiger’s most amazing shots…

(Source: youtube.com)

Maybe Tiger was human after all because in November 2009, his life took a bizarre turn when he crashed his SUV into a tree near his home at around two in the morning.  The cause of the crash was a mystery and his wife, Elin Nordegren, reportedly used one of Tiger’s golf clubs to smash the car’s window to get him out.Woods' SUV after he crashed it in November 2009.  The accident launched a media feeding frenzy.  Tiger, notorious for keeping his private life out of the public eye, (he named the yacht he bought “Privacy”) was thrust into a whirlwind of media coverage and speculations soon surfaced that Tiger had been unfaithful to Elin.  With a former model as a wife and two cute young kids, Tiger’s life seemed perfect.  The public was flabbergasted by the allegations.  

A few weeks after the accident, Tiger announced he would be taking an indefinite break from golf.  Then, in February 2010, Tiger issued a mea culpa in front of a small group of reporters and his close friends and family.  He admitted to cheating on Elin and apologized to her, his family and his fans.  Tiger took no questions and offered few details, stating he didn’t know when he would return to the PGA.  Tiger returned to golf for the 2010 Masters in April.  His debut was watched by five million people, the most viewed golf event ever.  Since his return, Tiger’s golf game has struggled and he often shows only a flicker of his old self.  Initially, the media thought his poor performances was due to the drama in his personal life, but over two years later, he continues to flounder on the course.  Tiger hasn’t won a PGA tour even since August 2009.  People want to know if he’ll ever win again and if he’ll surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.  A recent article in Sports Illustrated said, “The big question is not whether Tiger will win again.  He will.  The Big Watch for Tiger is how many majors he will win before he’s through?”  Many are optimistic that Tiger will climb back to the top and if anyone can do it, it’s Tiger.  

Top photo from: http://www.tmz.com/2009/11/29/tiger-woods-photos-crash-scene-suv/#.T0vhWfWyUS8

Bottom photo from: http://www.salon.com/2010/02/19/glf_tiger_woods_2/

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In a press conference after the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Tiger Woods was asked if he feels “internal pressure” to win since it has been over two years since his last victory.  Woods stated that he is comfortable with where he’s at with his golf game and he believes he is headed in the right direction.

(Source: youtube.com)