Once upon a time there was a day when wearing red struck fear into the deepest caverns of opponents hearts. Sundays.
You heard him before you saw him. It started with a purr, then a dull roar, then a growing wave of expectation as the crowds around layered themselves around fairways, dug in around the perimeter of every green. His presence suffocated the opposition’s mentality, canceling any kind of ferocity which they displayed.
Tiger was on the prowl.
And what an era of golf that was. Gargantuan drives, impeccable displays of athleticism from a sport which was not known for true athletes, and cold blooded annihilation of anyone in his path on the leaderboard. It was domination, it was his era.
But a crucial knee injury, a world-wide cheating scandal, and a swing overhaul later, Tiger Woods is a different man. And that doesn’t even begin to analyze his mental situation. Who am I to try and decipher what Tiger Woods is actually thinking? No, it doesn’t have to get that difficult. Just look at what goes on in front of you.
He isn’t the same man.
His swing is in shambles, his accuracy is nothing more than a flash in the pan. As Woods ages, his confidence evaporates and the level of play around him elevates. We won’t see the same dominance Tiger once displayed, whether fans want to come to terms with that or not. But is that a reflection of Woods as a golfer? Not entirely. The next generation of golf stars are all big, athletic players who are capable of hitting many shots. Golf hasn’t seen a generation this talented all come along at the same time, which often plays into the parity in the win column.
It also creates one major problem, there’s no one “star.” Look around. While Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anthony Kim, and Bubba Watson are great players, they lack the superstar factor. Ernies Els and Vijay Singh have nostalgic factors with most of the golf community, they’re not the future of golf. Rory Mcilroy may be the next superstar from the European spotlight, but does he have the charisma to win over fans of the PGA Tour?
Then there’s Phil.
A fan favorite throughout the tour, Phil Mickelson sparkles around the green and normally generates the loudest of ovations. But his sometimes inconsistent play at times baffles fans and pundits alike. My take on Phil? He’s a great Robin, but can’t be the PGA Tours Batman.
So it all circles back to Tiger Woods.
Sure, he’s mired in a slump. Hes not mentally strong right now, he’s mired in another blown up scandal(Spitgate anyone?) and is overhauling the aforementioned swing. He’s at his most vulnerable state as a golfer right now, facing criticism and skepticism from all 360 degrees. It’d be easy to write off Tiger Woods now, casting him away as one of the greatest golfers to ever play the sport, but was unable to regain greatness.
But that would be irresponsible.
Because in the face of adversity, in the very depths of a seemingly bottomless pit of despair, true champions eventually rise up. And what is Tiger Woods? Only the winner of 14 majors. The only man on tour to warrant his own “tracker” on ESPN. The only man, even when “down and out,” generates more hits on google and more attention than every other player on tour.
Jack Nicklaus took 3 years to win another major after 14. But he did it.
There’s no one who can truthfully doubt the amount of work Tiger Woods is willing and will put into the game of golf. While he is the best, a swing transformation doesn’t happen overnight. While others grapple to gain control of the top spot in the league, Tiger still waits in the depths. While everyone obsesses over Tiger losing control of the league, could it be possible that the rest of the tour is simply wasting their 15 minutes of fame? Attack now, that same Tiger is still on the prowl, albeit a different path.
Tiger knows how to win, he knows how to close. A mindset which is fragile right now will only strengthen with confidence, which will only be acquired through time. If you snooped around online, you’d think Tiger completely forgot how to play golf and turned into John Daly. He may be beaten down, but Tiger Woods doesn’t take to being defeated lightly. Give up on him if you please, but that will be a short-minded decision.
Tiger Woods will dominate again.
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