To root for drama in sports is inevitably to root for failure.
This tension plays out naturally in team sports, where fans tend to have a specific interest in one team. It can play out more awkwardly in individual sports, where hero vs. villain isn’t so clearly defined.
That strange dynamic occurred to me Sunday, as I watched along with millions as Tiger Woods tried to beat back his history — some of it brought on by injuries, some of it self-inflicted off the course — to win the Masters.
A handful of those millions were gathered around the lobby of a St. Paul fitness center as Tiger took a late lead and then hit a precision ball on the par-3 16th hole. There was no doubt about the star attraction — and a reminder of the sway Woods has even as his streak of not winning a major had reached a decade.
The viewers weren’t actively rooting for everyone else to fail — specifically Francesco Molinari, who started the day with a two-shot lead — but it was implicit.
It was also unsurprising. As someone who drew the enviable assignment of following Woods everywhere during both the 2002 and 2009 PGA Championships at Hazeltine, I can attest to the shadow he can cast over the rest of the best.
But again, that second time — the second of two runner-up finishes for Tiger in Minnesota — was almost a decade ago. His pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors was already at 14 by then, and reaching it seemed like an inevitability.
It’s hard to say what was more stunning: the fact that Woods just reached 15 on Sunday, or that he did it at all. Tiger did his part. Molinari and others obliged.
The drama was worth the wait, even if it meant Tiger was the one who so often failed along the way.
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Those whose only commentary about soccer is to mock the sport for its 1-0 final scores were awfully silent after Minnesota United opened Allianz Field with a 3-3 draw on Saturday in front of 19,000-plus enthusiastic fans. If it seems like a lot of goals now, just wait until the concrete settles.
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If you’re tracking Wild players traded midyear since the local team didn’t make the playoffs this year, it was a mixed bag this weekend.
Charlie Coyle scored the first goal of the game for the Bruins as they defeated Toronto 4-1 to even that series 1-1. Mikael Granlund didn’t have a point for Nashville, but he logged more than 16 minutes of ice time in an overtime win over Dallas, which evened that series 1-1. But Nino Niederreiter was a minus-2 for Carolina, which lost to Washington and trails that series 2-0.
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And if you’re tracking Jimmy Butler: He scored 36 points to lead the 76ers, but Philadelphia was upset 111-102 in Game 1 of its series with Brooklyn on Saturday. It is interesting, though, that Butler didn’t notch a single assist. He had only one such game in each of the past three regular seasons combined.
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Minnesota Duluth has now won three of the past nine NCAA men’s hockey championships after claiming its second in a row on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Massachusetts.
No other program has more than one in that span, so I guess we know where the seat of power in college hockey rests.
The NCHC has claimed the past four championships, with Denver and North Dakota preceding UMD.