Life Must Stop For...Life!

Okay I have now officially had it preachy-sports-columnist-fathers taking this Tiger-fatherhood thing way too far. This time Rick Maese in the Baltimore Sun is suggesting that Tiger should have left Oakmont when he learned his wife was in the hospital with completely normal and non-emergency be by her side and be the subservient man that some apparently want him to be.

What would you do? What would your wife want? What would your doctor recommend? They're personal questions that only allow for personal answers.

Thankfully, for Woods and his wife, everything worked out OK. He took a private jet to Orlando immediately after the tournament, and Elin gave birth to Sam Alexis the following day, reportedly by Caesarean section.

I'm guessing most wives wouldn't be so lenient, and most husbands wouldn't choose to remain on an out-of-town business trip knowing what was happening back home.

What I do know is that whatever we make of Woods' decision to remain in the U.S. Open says an awful lot about priorities. How could the tournament have been that important?

Everything Woods said leading up to and since his daughter's birth indicates that he understands golf will now take a back seat. So why didn't it that week? He didn't need the money. He didn't need another major. And he'll surely play in 20 more U.S. Opens before he hangs up his spikes.

Oh here we go...why did I know this was coming?

You can't help but think back to the 1999 U.S. Open, when another of the sport's superstars was expecting his first child. Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, due any day, stayed in Arizona while Mickelson competed in Pinehurst, N.C. He had a pager in his golf bag and said repeatedly that as soon as it went off, he was dropping the club and boarding a plane. Didn't matter if it was the first tee Thursday or the 18th green Sunday.

Uh, but he was still playing with her on the verge of giving birth? Right? So really, he should not have been at Pinehurst, no?

Under this line of thinking, why does Phil get a pass and not Tiger?

Like Woods three weeks ago, Mickelson finished that Open in second, one stroke off the lead. If he happened to have a share of the lead, Mickelson said he would've skipped out on the playoff if that pager started buzzing. What would Woods have done? Even after his baby was born, he still wouldn't say what should be obvious: You go be with your wife.

"I'm not going down that road," Woods said when asked about the possibility of a playoff at Oakmont.

Woods comes from loving parents and has great family support and so it feels like a pretty safe bet that Sam Alexis Woods will grow up with a good father around her.

Oh spare us.

But let's please avoid falling into the trap of mythicizing Woods' 2007 U.S. Open performance, glorifying the greatest golfer in the world for nearly winning despite the burdensome knowledge that his wife was nearly 1,000 miles away in a hospital room.

How about mythicizing this need for the husband to be there every step of the way? Should Tiger have done pregnant yoga classes with Elin too? Been there to feed her the last 10 meals before the birth? Washed her feet and scrubbed her belly for good karma?

Woods was asked earlier this week how he was able to maintain his intense focus at Oakmont, knowing what was happening down in Orlando.

"You just do," he said. "You just do. You just do."

Unless, of course, you don't.

Just two days before Elin was admitted into the hospital, Woods told reporters, "All I know is that Elin and I are excited, and that this is far more important than any game of golf."

The safe guess is that when Woods finally did join his wife in her hospital room, that undeniable truth was more evident than ever before.

Oy...yes, let's do our best to make him ordinary like the rest of us, so we can feel good about ourselves.

No, I want the Tiger that's different than everyone else. The one with the cajones to play the US Open with this on his plate and who is not milking (no pun intended) a childbirth for something more than it is.

After all, it has been done billions of times before, and not every father was there for the occasion.