with Robert Bicknell
Online stories at various sites last week breathlessly posted that Tiger Woods claims he "feels explosive again!"
It seems with every week, Tiger is upping the ante on his propaganda campaign. My own personal feeling has long been that Tiger caught the entire PGA Tour flatfooted on his arrival and then simply capitalized on it. Once you get people to believe you can beat them, half the battle is over.
When Tiger first arrived on the Tour, he came in at the end of the year, when most of the top players were already winding down for a holiday. For months before, the magazines touted his abilities and colossal sponsorship endorsements. Thus, the stage was mentally set for Tiger to make his appearance and for everyone to stand around and watch.
During the offseason, the other Tour pros continued to bite into the Tiger-hype apple and convinced themselves that this kid was really as good as the press says. The new season begins and Tiger has already beaten half of them mentally.
It's a cute trick and it looks like he's trying to do it again.
For months now, Tiger has been building up the excitement in the press, who basically drool all over themselves whenever there is a Tiger story in the wind.
Tiger claims he is practicing again after his divorce. Tiger says rehab is going well. Tiger says he is almost 100 per cent. Tiger says his swing tweaks are paying off. And the latest one, Tiger says he feels explosive again.
All of this is simply Tiger saying, "I am getting ready to kick all of your asses again and you know it. Fear me and be afraid, be very afraid."
It's a mind game of the highest caliber.
Tiger was a phenomenal player, of that there is simply no doubt. His skills were extraordinary, but not much different than any other star of their own particular era.
Tiger beats you in the mind and your body simply follows.
Now, if you look at the European Tour players, they don't follow Tiger's carefully laid out script. They respect him and admire him, but there is simply no way that they are going to lay down and play dead like the US players did in the past.
Mickelson has such a bad case of Ailurophobia (fear of cats) that when you say "Tiger" his Krispy Kreme donuts fly hither and yon.
If Tiger had played against Nicklaus, Norman, Watson, or Sam Snead in their primes, you can bet your bottom dollar that these guys would have given him the game of his life. They would have salivated at the chance to take him apart.
We will never know if, all things being equal, they could have beaten him, but we can be sure that they would have spit in his eye and said "let's get it on" instead of rolling over.
By now you might be thinking that I dislike for Tiger because I don't breathe and write constant platitudes about him and that's simply not true. I have the highest respect for his skills and records. He is truly an amazing player.
Where I have a problem is thinking that, without Tiger, the entire world of golf should simply dry up and blow away. Other golf writers seem to have that mindset, probably because Tiger makes their lives easier as he's easy copy. The writers don't have to learn names like "Oosthuizen".
Secondly, and more importantly, I feel that golf writers are doing a major disservice to the other younger players out there who have the skills and, in time, the experience and ability to beat Tiger but have trouble getting noticed, simply because many hacks find it more profitable to write about Tiger Woods.
If you repeat a lie long enough it becomes accepted as the truth and the same goes for propaganda. If you can get enough people to believe someone is invincible, they become invincible. You've already beaten them in their minds.
Will Tiger dominate like he did before?
This is something that only time will reveal. However, I have a feeling that the McIlroys, Rocks, Johnsons and McDowells of the world won't be going away anytime soon without a fight.
And its great rivalries which will make golf fun to watch again. — VNS