Tale of a British loser and US winner

James Randall

Motor-racing ace Lewis Hamilton has been compared to golfing giant Tiger Woods. But the Brit does not deserve the comparison made by over-enthusiastic UK journalists.

When American Tiger Woods entered his first major championship, the US Masters at Augusta in 1997, he won it. Adversity faced him from the tee off. He was four over par after playing just half the course and looked to be choking. But he fought back, to win by 12 shots, and set an all time low score record in the process of 18 under par.

Throughout his rookie season, boy wonder Hamilton, 22, has been described in the press as  "the Woods of Formula One". Yet in the last crucial race of the season in Brazil, it became very clear that this hyped up tag is ill-deserved.

As per usual the media frenzy surrounding Hamilton has led to ridiculous comparisons with this sporting idol, Woods, and in some quarters to the motor racing legend Ayrton Senna. Hamilton's actions on the first corner in the Brazil race show otherwise. His immaturity shone through; something which was not seen when Woods was trailing at his first major in 1997.

The point is this: the line between great sportsman and sportsman who will change the way all approach their particular field is thin. Woods is one of these who have changed their sport, like Dick Fosbury who revolutionised high-jumping.

Arsenal football star Cesc Fabregas is proving to be one of these sportsman. However Hamilton is not. If he was, he would not have attempted to compete for a unattainable race position which was neither required nor actually there in Brazil. His actions cost him the title and this cannot be forgotten.

So when the newspaper columnists have finished their praise of the  "Next Woods," they should perhaps sit down and consider what happened in the 2006-2007 season. Lewis the prodigal son lost. He lost a significant lead in the drivers' championship, a mighty 14 points, and the responsibility for this must be laid upon his young shoulders. Finnish former rookie sensation Kimi Raikkonen snatched the championship from Lewis by just one point.

There is no shame in what Lewis has achieved. He is clearly a great driver; someone of whom this nation should be proud. Put into perspective, when the history books are written, Woods will always have his first major victory at his first major championship to his credit. By contrast, Hamilton's debut season in Formula One will not have done the same. Time will tell how well Hamilton will do, but if he is to emulate Woods, he is already starting with a significant handicap.