with Robert Bicknell
I love when other newspapers and magazines print something I said weeks before. Sure I don't receive any attribution or attention from it. I just get satisfaction of knowing I was right. In this case, it's an on-line golf magazine claiming Tiger can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I seem to remember saying the same thing weeks ago following Tiger's round with US President Obama. I also mentioned that Tiger seemed back on track following the formal acknowledgement of what could be golf's worst kept secret – that he was dating US skier Lindsey Vonn.
So, in the last month, Tiger has played with Obama, has a new girlfriend, patched up his relationship with is ex-wife (enough so he can be seen in public with her and his kids) and regained his top slot.
In my view, Tiger Woods has become a very dangerous person again.
We will know for sure at the upcoming Masters tournament because, like Bay Hill, it is a course Tiger feels very comfortable playing and has many positive memories and victories there. If we were talking baseball, football or basketball, we could call it a "home field advantage".
Furthermore, as I have said countless times – in order to play truly great golf, your heart and head have to be clear and uncluttered. Tiger has reached that state again, probably because of his new girlfriend. Nothing lifts the spirit more than a new love.
The question is what will happen if the relationship goes sour. I would hope that Tiger would have regained enough of his confidence and predatory instincts by that time and simply be able to shrug it off and continue moving forward.
When the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan for him a few years ago, it shattered the carefully constructed mystique he created. It allowed the world to see he had weaknesses and faults like everyone else on the planet. I think the difference this time around is that he doesn't have to create and try to live up to a superman image. He can just be himself.
That will save him a lot of aggravation in the long term.
On a sort of related item, Rory McIlroy claims he's a lot happier flying under the radar as the number two and letting Tiger bask in the glory as the World's Number One.
This makes a lot of sense.
First of all, Rory isn't playing up to snuff lately. Most likely there is too much pressure on him too early. It takes a long time of being under the microscope before an athlete can become blase about it. In the beginning, it becomes overwhelming.
Secondly, he has a new set of clubs which are giving him mental fits, regardless if he wants to admit it publically or not. While a great player can use almost any club, to compete with equally great players at that level, he needs to have complete confidence in his equipment and the familiarity that goes with it.
Rory also made an intelligent decision by not entering the Bay Hill Invitational and going head to head with Tiger. Instead, he spent the weekend on the sidelines watching his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki compete in the WTA tournament in Miami.
Once again, it's that "companion" outlet which allows a person to decompress and get everything back on an even keel. Most of us do it simply by coming home at night and playing with our children.
OK, granted, we also come home to find our wives livid and demanding we beat said angelic child within an inch of their lives for pouring pop rocks into the fish tank and watching the fish lose their minds.
Yes, things like that happen when you have children…trust me.
For the record, NEVER hit your kids. It doesn't work as well as taking away the iPad or TV and the child will remember it later in life when they put you into a nursing home and recommend the staff give you daily colonics with bubble bath liquid and howl with laughter as you wobble down the hallway passing floaters.
OK, prediction time and as you all know I am almost never correct, but here goes anyway: Tiger wins Masters by more than five strokes. McIlroy will miss the cut.
We shall see…. — VNS