by Robert Bicknell
Well, two pretty serious tournaments later, Tiger Woods continues to show he’s trying to make a comeback, but it’s not the same Tiger. This one is very different and, for that reason, I have my doubts that he will win again anytime soon.
Yes, all the naysayers and Tiger fans are now screaming, calling me even more names than usual, and instead of using my column for the bottom of the bird cage, they decided to burn it instead.
Go ahead. If that’s what makes you happy. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this Tiger isn’t the same wrecking machine as the old one.
In professional sports, “attitude” is a major reason for winning.
If you look at some of the best players in their various sports, they were notorious trash-talkers. They knew they were great and weren’t shy about sticking it in your face. They beat you even before you got on the course, court or field.
Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Floyd Mayweather, John McEnroe and, of course, Muhammad Ali were all legendary athletes and trash talkers. They were very confident in their abilities.
Tiger Woods used to be like that in the old days. He had that burr under his saddle, a fire in his gut. He couldn’t stand hitting any shot which was less than perfect and you could tell which shots he missed because he’d drop a lot of “F-bombs” as well as tossing a club or two.
He demanded perfection of himself and intimidated the hell out of almost every player on the US Tour (as mentioned many times, the guys on the European Tour respected his ability, but were not scared of him… which explains Tiger’s less than spectacular Ryder Cup record).
Whenever he arrived on the tee on the first day of the event, his attitude was “OK, which of you chumps are coming in second.” He knew deep in his heart that he could win every event he entered and almost did it.
I think the only reason he didn’t was boredom. He got a bit lazy out there and just coasted. To him, Majors were the important events and regular events were just to keep the fans, sponsors and Tour happy.
But that’s not the guy we are seeing on TV nowadays…
The “new Tiger” is more laid back, kinda philosophical, relaxed and putting on his happy face. In the old days, if he played badly the press knew not to go near him or risk an explosion. Nowadays, he happily recounts his so-so play and smiles about it.
Did the doctors give him a lobotomy when they fixed his back?
David Duval was one of the best players on the planet for a while, but then something changed. Yes, he was injured, but even before that he switched management to IMG where the geniuses said things like, “David, you gotta ditch the Terminator glasses. People want to see your face.” Or “David, what’s with the all-black outfit? You’re scaring children and not being fan friendly.” “David, you need to smile more.”
So he did… and promptly destroyed himself because that’s not who he is inside. Duval was happiest being a cold machine. Getting a smile out of him was like pulling teeth. He felt more comfortable being inside his own little world.
Once he came out of that world, he couldn’t function. Then he got injured and he still hasn’t come back.
Attitude and confidence are big parts of a winner’s chemical make-up, but they don’t have to be A-holes about it. Bobby Orr was one of the greatest ice hockey players who ever lived. On the ice he was a murderous magician who would destroy the opponent without remorse. Off the ice he was one of the nicest people on the planet.
So, perhaps Tiger needs to dif down a bit into his previous self and pull out a little bit of attitude and self-confidence. He needs to remove any doubts in his mind and stop thinking about it being a “work in progress”.
He’s not gonna win on the course until he first wins in his heart and mind. — VNS