When Will the Real Tiger Comeback
Tiger Woods, who has dominated the last two British Opens at the famous St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland, finished 13 shots back (-3 overall) from The Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, this past weekend.
Woods, who remains winless in seven tournaments this year, has one last chance in August to take a step closer to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins. This year’s PGA Championship is being played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin where the course is not built for Woods style of play. The last time Tiger played at Whistling Straits he finished tied for 24th in the 2004 PGA Championship.
After finishing his fourth round Sunday in Scotland, Woods had this to say in his press conference about driving, “I drove it great all week, hit my irons pretty good and I did not putt well except for the first day. I believe I had like nine three-putts for the week, so consequently I’m pretty far down the board. Actually I’m driving it better than I have in years, but I’m just not making putts. It’s ironic that as soon as I start driving it on a string, I miss everything. Maybe I should go back to spraying it all over the lot and make everything (putt).”
Whenever Woods seems to bounce back mentally on the course from his sex scandal, one part of his golf game hits the wall. He finished tied for fourth at the Masters and tied for seventh at the U.S. Open earlier this year, which are not bad finishes. But, when the media watches every move, every swing and over analyze every word during every press conference, when does being a human (and not a robot like Tiger portrays himself) kick in and affect your game?
No matter how good or bad Tiger plays, nothing will go his way this year. Despite all the extra non-sense that is going on in his personal life, he isn’t the Tiger of old when he could mentally block anything from his mind and fully concentrate on the task at hand. It seemed golf was Tiger’s escape and no one could touch him mentally.
Fans and experts world wide expected Tiger to be back to his normal self by now with at least one major under his belt, but few people see that there are plenty of reasons to write off Tiger. I one the other disagree with his completely. Mentally, I expected this from Tiger. The stress of his personal life is so over whelming (even for Tiger Woods) that it should take at least a golf season to get back into the swing of things.
Joe Posnanski, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote an article yesterday saying that Tiger is the “Goliath” of Golf (which is true, for now). Posnanski went on to write that “He has never shown even the slightest inclination for becoming David or, anyways, I haven’t seen it. I don’t think he is suited for a slingshot.” Posnanski is wrong; Tiger is suited to become “David” and here’s why:
Every athlete growing up is the “Goliath” of his or her high school team. They then go on to either get recruited, drafted or turn professional where he or she meets and faces other “Goliaths.” High profiled athletes figure out soon enough there is always someone better (Unless you’re Michael Jordan). For most, they are humble and are glad to be playing the sport they have grown to love. They use it as motivation to become stronger, faster and work harder at becoming the best in their respective sport.
When you’re Tiger Woods, who has been playing golf since the age of two and has dominated the field until his mid 30’s, how does one become “David” when he has always been “Goliath”? Tiger is at a point in his career where he has to make a choice whether he likes it or not, he mentally needs to become the “David” of golf. He has redefined the game of golf and knows that he has. Young golfers are stronger, can hit the ball further and understand the game better due to technology advances with the game thanks to Tiger.
This is a crucial point in Tiger’s career where I believe he will figure out how to deal with his “Goliath” like emotions on and off the course and will grow from it. It’s something that just doesn’t take a weekend to figure out - it takes maybe a couple months, maybe a year or if not more. Whenever that time comes, I know Tiger will rise right back to his dominate self. He has all the money in the world (even after giving Elin $300 million) to hire help to mentally prepare for every tournament and the media.
Tiger is 34 right now, Nicklaus won six major tournaments after the age of 34 (1975 and 1986 Masters, 1980 U.S. Open, 1978 British Open and 1975 and 1980 PGA Championship). Woods needs to win five more majors in order to pass “The Golden Bear.” Considering he has finished in the Top 10 in two major championships with all the drama that has discombobulated the world’s greatest golfer, I don’t see how anyone could write off Tiger.
In Tiger’s eyes he is not playing up to his standards along with critics, but your can only tame a Tiger, when he figures out how to mentally get over this skid in his life watch out because Tiger is arguably the best golfer every to play the game.
Cash Scott for Citadel Digital © 2010