Saturday, February 14, 2015
TIGER WOODS HAS LOST HIS MIND
When Tiger Woods was dominating golf and racking up major titles at a record pace,
his greatest asset wasn't his swing, strength, or shot-shaping skills.
It was his mind.
Almost from the moment he came out of his mother's womb, Tiger was trained by his
father, Earl, a former Green Beret, to have an iron-clad, tough as nails mind. It was built
like Fort Knox, preventing any negative thoughts from seeping in and programmed to
make any shot from anywhere under pressure that would buckle mere mortals and mental
Earl Woods often tried to distract Tiger and throw his focus off during practice rounds by
dropping keys or yelling in his backswing. He taught baby Eldrick to think about every shot
with the preparation of scientist and the precision of a surgeon. Tiger morphed into a
trained assassin on the course, intimidating opponents with his game and killing them
with his mind.
Remember the U.S. Open in 2008? Tiger sank a knee-buckling 12-foot putt under intense
pressure to tie Rocco Mediate and force a final round playoff, which he went on to win.
That was the Tiger we had known, oblivious to the pressure with a steely-eye focus. During
his great run, Tiger could do the impossible, carving shots around trees, sticking 240-yard
shots from a fairway bunker, and snaking impossible 60-foot puts to secure a tournament
It's been a long, long time since we saw that Tiger. I think that one died in the fall of 2009.
His invincibility, dominance, and mental toughness seemed to be rinse away when he
barreled down his driveway in an ambien-fueled haze. When he rammed into a fire hydrant
all the sordid details of his secret life as a serial philanderer came out and ended up killing
Tiger's terrific golf mind and psyche.
Let's face it, almost since birth, or his appearance as a 3-year old on the Mike Douglas show,
Tiger Woods had been loved and adored by a lot of people. He rarely heard criticism and
if anyone did take shots at him, it was behind his back or closed doors. The cameras loved
him, NBC Sports was obsessed with him, and Nike paid him millions to ride into their
stable of superstars. Golf analysts were scared of criticizing him because Tiger was a lot
like Michael Jordan. He heard everything and had a long memory. He'd embarrass you.
However, that all changed when the parade of pin-ups and porn stars came rolling out
with accusations, voicemails, and voluminous threads of racy text messsages. "Saturday
Night Live" mocked him and just about everybody in the country despised him for
cheating on his beautiful wife and two children.
Tiger Woods went from one of the most beloved, respected, and admired athletes
of all-time, to a sleaze bag of epic proportions. He was just another "entitled" athlete
which for some reason, he came out from the a blue curtain and admitted to the world.
And he couldn't deal with it.
Tiger's mind and psyche was shattered. His Fort Knox came crumbling down under
the criticism and lampooning. Everybody removed the gloves and took their shots
at Tiger. His peers were no longer afraid of him as he was stripped of his air of invincibility.
Fans at tournaments jeered him and a few of his sponsors bailed on him. For the first
time in his life, there were some people, companies, and friends who wanted nothing to
do with him.
Hearing such public and blatant criticism in his life rattled Tiger's core. creating doubts
and negativity. The fortress to his mind came crashing down and his golf game has
never been the same. Tiger used to be automatic from 10-feet and in under the pressure
of major tournaments, now he just seems to be the 63rd ranked golfer in the world
that he is.
No thrills, no great swings or shots that make golf fans go, "OMG!" The beautiful
mind is gone and so are all the phenomenal shots and major victories. After Tiger
won the U.S. Open in 2008, he seemed to be in position to not only pass Jack Nickaus'
and his record for major victories, but lap him.
That victory over Mediate seven years ago was the last major Tiger won. That's a long,
long time ago.
Tiger can change his swing ten more times and hire more coaches, but he'll never get
the thing back that was his greatest asset: his mind. Perhaps, with his self-imposed
break from the game, he can work hard to rediscover it.
If he doesn't, the entire Tiger Woods story will be written as a sad and tragic one.