I was lunchin' with my boy Cat Daddy on Monday and between bites of Chicken Gyros over at Nicky's our attention was glued to one of the four TVs in the joint. Most times we're in there checkin' out CNN to see what Smooth is up to, but that day we were watchin' Tiger Woods battle it out with Rocco Mediate for the U.S. Open title.
Can't say that Tiger doesn't add drama to a golf tournament. If you ask me, anyone who can hit the type of shots he hits every time he needs to can also do a little sandbagging to make the outcome look a little more in doubt to jack up the drama and, in the end, enhance the legend. Break out a little limp here, drop a stroke or two there and pull it all back together just in the nick of time. I know that's a jaded view but sometimes his ruckus just looks too much like a movie script.
So while we're saltin' down some fries (which neither of us are supposed to be eatin') I tell Cat Daddy that I caught the Sports Illustrated 2008 Fortunate 50 list which features the 50 top paid American athletes. 'Tiger on top?', he asked. I nod yes and then tell ol boy how much he's made to date in career earnings (golf money and endorsement money) since he went pro 13 years ago. Cat Daddy's lucky to be alive the way he choked on his fries and all...
For those keepin' score and lookin' for an additional address to beg for money if you've already been turned down by Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Oprah, in 13 years as a pro Tiger has clocked almost $800 million dollars. No misprint, y'all. $800 million. A few years after he started career, I believe it was also Sports Illustrated that predicted that he would become sports first $1 billion dollar athlete - a threshold he's expected to pass in a couple years if his balky knee holds up. Damn. $1 billion dollars...playing golf. Ol Ty's been shakin' his head since he peeped the article.
It's interesting to note that #2 on that list was buster Phil Mickelson who clocked roughly $62 million since last year (well behind Tiger's $127 million). Me and Cat Daddy choked on that one too. Phil Mickelson!? Man, golf is the only sport where you can carve out a lucrative career and not even win consistently. For instance take Zack Johnson. According to PGAtour.com, Ol boy's played 15 tournaments this year, made 12 cuts, finished in the Top 10 once out of those 12 cuts and still clocked more than $500 thousand. Damn. Only in America.
Newly minted Celtic champs Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen made the list at numbers #8 ($31 million), #34 ($17.8 million) and #38 ($16.7 million) respectively. Seems like PP will be due a bump in his 'meager' salary since he's now the reigning Finals MVP. He needs a little bit extra anyway for real actin' lessons since that tomfoolery he pulled with gettin' carried off the court and pushed to the locker room in a wheelchair only to return 20 seconds later bouncing out of the tunnel was grade school caliber at best.
Yeah, I'm hatin' - I'll admit it. Just going through that list will turn a homey green as the Incredible Hulk and also produce many other choke-worthy moments as you come across small timers like Rashard Lewis (#39 - $16.6 million) and Elton Brand (#47 - $15.8 million). Still, I got to believe that the best job in all of sports has got to be caddying for Tiger. You get access to the mansion, yacht and private jet. You also get to travel the world and get a ring side seat at history and never swing a club, never have your nerves tested and rarely get scrutinized by the press. That's straight butter, baby.