Monday, April 18

SI Cover Story: 'Tired of Being Tiger Woods'

THIS MAY BE LIKE A PIECE of cheese that's been in the fridge a little too long, but I intended to get to it when it landed in my email on March 29.

Sports Illustrated published a cover story on Tiger Woods. They sent excerpts before it hit the newsstands. Here are a few.

Read the feature story on Tiger Woods.
PGA Tour player and Tiger pal Charles Howell III told an anecdote about a cage dive with great white sharks:
"We chummed the water for seven or eight hours, but there's not a shark to be seen. Tiger is bored out of his mind. He's wearing a wetsuit to dive into the cage in case any sharks come, and suddenly he just jumps into open water. He's decided to swim over to the island and get up close to the seals. The guys on the boat are going nuts, shouting for Tiger to come back, but he just keeps swimming, through all the chum ... After what seems like an eternity, he swims back and casually gets back on the boat… He's just different from normal people. Completely fearless."
Howell also had thoughts on Tiger's future in golf:  
"He's still Tiger Woods and he has an imprint to play great golf, and he will do it again… He just thinks differently from everybody else, which is why he was so great. If the guy were to get off his couch and show up at the Masters and win I would not be be surprised, because that’s who he is."
I'm only an observer, with no special insight, but I disagree with Howell. At this point, I'd be shocked if Tiger got off his couch and won any major. In a way, I don't think "Tiger" (the one who won 14 majors in about a decade) exists anymore. Physically, he's not the same. In addition, and more importantly, the confidence has evaporated. Can he get it back? I seriously doubt it. I'd be glad to be proved wrong.

Former swing coach Hank Haney mentioned Tiger's "indifference" to surpassing the 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus:
"That was a big wow. I finally understood he really doesn't give a s---. The media has always been so clueless on Tiger. They've always thought that beating Jack's record is the most important thing in his life. If that's your premise, and it's wrong, then all the assumptions you make after that are wrong too. It was obvious in the way his work ethic fell off and his attitude on the course that he had lost a lot of his desire. On some level he was just tired of being Tiger Woods."
While fascinating, Haney's comments didn't surprise me too much. I'd heard similar remarks a few years ago in the media center at a major championship. It was hearsay, but it went something like this: Tiger thought 14 majors was just fine and felt comfortable with his place in golf and golf history.

That surprised me at the time, but upon further thought it didn't, or at least not so much. In my view, Tiger has been the one who has encouraged everyone to believe he's in hot pursuit of Jack. And why not? There's been a lot at stake for him, including a ton of money, his very livelihood.

I hope I don't sound cynical, just realistic. My hunch is that it was (and is) in Tiger's interest to keep his legend alive for as long as he can, even when his game is all but gone.

1 comment:

Rudy said...

Tiger has fallen from grace. Until he regained the respect from all of his peers and fans, he's never be going to be same guy (who was competitive and fearless).