Archive for August 6, 2010

Tiger the Golfer- Mere Mortal

(Photo: Associated Press)

He looks lost.  His driver is leaving the ball in the woods.  His irons are leaving the ball in sand traps and rough.  The man who used to make 45-foot putts can’t hit from 8 feet.  Seven times he won at Firestone.  He is in 70th place.

What everyone assumed would be the inevitable Tiger Woods assault on Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major titles now seems like an impossible mountain to climb.  I don’t know exactly what Elin did on that fateful Thanksgiving night in Florida, but I don’t think it had as much to do with an 8-iron as it did with kryptonite or some kind of very effective voodoo.  

The human psyche is a complicated thing.  Is he subliminally punishing himself?  Does he need three different women a week or he loses his powers? 

I think it’s control.  He has lost control of his life, first personally- then professionally.  His wife left him.  His swing coach left him.  If there was one overriding aura around the old Tiger, it was a man very much in control of everything; from his golf stroke to, apparently, his secret life. Now it is gone. All gone. It is as if the Gods waved their wands from Olympus and transformed him from one of their own to a mere mortal.

In the days after he withdrew from the The Player’s Championship back in May and Tiger’s coach quit on him, Jay Marioti at wrote a an insightful piece  on the decline of Tiger Woods that had the ring of truth.

He pointed out that at 35 years old, Tiger’s not only getting physically creaky- the famous Tiger Zen has vanished: 

Assuming he can piece himself back together and enter events, Woods has provided no evidence that he can regenerate the magic of yore. His physical problems now include the knees, Achilles, back and neck — body parts urgent to a golfer’s well-being as he swings, walks and thinks on his feet. Mentally, his marital life is headed to divorce, with speculation mounting daily about what type of child custody he’ll retain, if any. All of which is pounding at his very soul. Time was when we thought nothing could invade the steel-trap psyche of Eldrick Woods, son of Earl, heir to Gandhi and Mandela. These days, he’s half the golfer he used to be, and maybe one-tenth the man.    

I remember what Tiger used to be as a golfer.  When he was the best the sport had ever seen.  We were witness to something truly special.  We took the magic and the greatness for granted week in and week out.   We had ten years of it but it still feels rather fleeting.  

Tiger Woods is still alive, but it feels like little by little, we are all writing the very sad obituary of one of the greatest athletes of our times.