Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Never Again Another Tiger in Golf

I saw Tiger's interview after he defeated the rest of the field at Medinah Country Club to win his third PGA Championship. The rest were playing their own tournament of who would finish second. Like Mike Weir in 2000, Luke Donald, folded during the final round with Tiger. Is it the "Tiger Mystique" that causes his competitors to play mediocre, if not poorly, when they're in contention against Tiger? Absolutely.

The interview revealed to me how Tiger has developed the Tiger Mystique. First and foremost it's the unique characteristics of his mother and father who raised him with complete unconditional love. His father and best friend, Earl, was 42 when Tiger was born. He already had had three children with his first wife and he probably learned how to be a better father by the time Tiger was raised.

Tiger said he could score 1,000 in a round and his father would not have chided him, be disappointed in him, or love him any less. How many junior athletes now can say that about their father? Unfortunately I think few as the parents of this generation seem to live more through their children's successes on the field, and sadly some want it even more than their children. Most junior athletes today don't have the luxury to try different shots or swings like Tiger did without the fear of disappointing their parent or losing their love.

Earl Woods also was retired military where he likely learned discipline, commitment, and focus, without worrying about having to prove anything because of his race. Who else could have instilled those traits along with Tiger's ferocious work ethic, determination, and maturity? A silly question asked of Tiger was what he could tell his opponents to do when they are paired with him on a Sunday, so they could beat him. Tiger swatted that question away as if it were an annoying gnat by simply replying, with a grin, that he wouldn't say.

Why would he? But, more importantly, how could he? His opponents weren't raised by Earl and Kultida Woods, and later mentored on how to handle success by one of the most successful athletes in the world, Michael Jordan. I believe Tiger credits his mother as much for his success with her spiritual grounding.

Without the fear of looking sentimental, Tiger uses a head cover that his mother gave him. Written in Thai, it says she's always with him. Tiger beams his pearly whites as he describes how he looks at that head cover and feels his mother's presence out on the course. Tiger ever consider wearing a blue shirt on a Sunday of a Major? Never. It would mean the death (of course, figuratively) of Tiger at the hands of his mother. His fondness of red is because it's a power color and blue will never do.

Will Tiger smash Nicklaus's Major records of 18? Barring an injury, or surprising loss of interest by Tiger in golf, definitely. In 10 years, he's already two-thirds of the way there. A golf-focused, healthy Tiger will set new records of golf that won't be broken in my lifetime, if ever.

Simply said, they don't make them like they used to. There won't be another combination of parents that will raise another Tiger.

1 comment:

Peter Eco said...

This is a great article. Tiger has some incredible mental tools that no other player on tour has. His body language when playing head to head virtually suffocates the focus of his playing competitor.

I'm not going to make any predictions, but Tiger has truly transcended sport like no other athlete in history. The media attention available to Nicklaus is less than 2% of what Tiger has available to him.

I just hope Tiger realizes the global power he has can be put to better use than just winning golf tournaments. He is truly someone who can bring the world together, and while I think the Tiger Woods Foundation is wonderful, it only scratches the surface of what Tiger is capable of doing on a global scale.

As a multi-race person with God-like abilities, he could change the world (and very generation) we live in. As the most recognized person in the world he could do soooo much more than just beat Nicklaus record.

A little of tangent here, but this is where this article took me. Anyone have any creative thoughts about what Tiger could do beyond golf?