Thoughts on Tiger Woods (7/10/2009)
Without doubt, Tiger Woods is the best golfer I have ever seen play the game. Nevertheless, I am calling him out! I
think the success, fame, money, and admiration has gone to his head. He seems to be full of himself, overly proud
of his ability, and lacking that deep down drive to prove himself to himself. Many may think I am crazy, including Mr.
Woods himself, but I am un-phased by these thoughts. I would even argue that Tiger Woods deep down in his soul
knows that I am correct.
The more and more that I play golf and the better and better that I get at the game, the more and more I appreciate
what Tiger can do. The length of his tee shots, the speed of his swing, the amazing shots from deep in the woods
that hit the green, and the clutch, CLUTCH putts. His ability is simply not on the same plane as even the most highly
skilled professional. But the attitude he carries himself with is distinctly different from the attitude he had back in the
late 1990’s and very early 2000’s. And, frankly, I do not think it is good for his game.
I remember a press conference that Tiger Woods did before the 2008 season. There he was sitting behind the
table/podium speaking to the press about the upcoming season. Asked about the possibility if he could win the
Grand Slam, he responded oozing arrogance and self-pride, “it’s easily within reach.” Why do you say that? was the
question that followed. Once again with extreme arrogance, “because I’ve done it before,” was his answer.
Hmmmm…done it before? When? That last time (and only time) it was done was in 1930. “I’ve done it before.” Oh,
you mean the pseudo-slam or the “Tiger Slam” ¾ of the Slam complete in 2000 and ¼ in 2001. Got it, but that’s not
the Grand Slam. After this over-confident/arrogant string of comments and behaviors, he goes out and looses the
first major. Nice work…I guess it wasn’t as easily reachable as you thought.
And, oh yeah, as I write this the 2009 season is two majors deep and the task that was “easily in reach” won’t be
accomplished this year either. He lost The Masters and The US Open.
I contrast this to the Tiger of old, which is the Tiger that needs to re-surface. Along these lines, I will NEVER forget
the infamous Curtis Strange/Tiger Woods interview in 1996. Tiger, then a rookie on the PGA Tour, is interviewed by
Curtis Strange, a two time US Open champion. During the interview, a young Tiger Woods stated that his father
always told him that “2nd place sucks and 3rd is even worse.” The seasoned and tenured Strange responds, “but
on the PGA Tour second isn’t bad.” Tiger, “Yes, it isn’t bad…but I want to win.” Strange, “you’ll learn…you’ll learn.”
Perhaps the most important point of this interaction was the non-verbal communication. Tiger was not arrogant, not
cocky; he was open, honest, and sincere. His eyes were wide open, his stare was innocent, and he was clearly
looking to prove himself. Curtis Strange, on the other hand, was shocked, defensive, and offended. His comments
“you’ll learn,” will go down in infamy. No Mr. Strange, YOU WILL LEARN. You will learn how good Tiger is. You will
see his greatness first hand.
This wide-eyed, open, honest Tiger looking to prove himself would take down the greats of the game one after the
other in 1996 and 1997. Davis Love in a playoff, Payne Stewart by one, the reigning Player of the Year, Tom
Lehman, in a playoff, and then he completely and utterly destroyed the best players in the game of golf in the
greatest tournament in the game of golf, The Masters, in 1997. Tiger was on a mission, he had something to prove,
and he was focused.
I want to see this Tiger again. Tiger, I hope you read this…
If you want to be the greatest, it is not good enough for you to simply win your 19th major. Greatness is not defined
by numbers alone. If it was Byron Nelson could lay claim to being the greatest…18 wins in one season including 11
in a row. But he is not considered the greatest. To be the greatest, you must eclipse them all. Jack’s 18 is just a
start. Hogan won all 3 majors he competed in during the 1953 season, a season that took place after his accident.
Bobby Jones won all four majors in the same calendar year. To silence all the critics and doubters, including me,
you must win the calendar year Grand Slam. 3 in one year after your injury might get you by Hogan, but you need
them all to take down Bobby Jones!
Get your youthful demeanor back, get focused, stop being so comfortable with all the adulation and admiration. Get
hungry! Get it done and you are the best. Fail and you are one of the best.