Will Tiger roar at Pebble Beach? Only time will tell.
Has Tiger fallen? Probably more than any other athlete of our time. To gauge how far he has fallen, you need to take out a paper and a pen and make the list. Luckily for you, I have already done that for you.
When you say Woods has fallen, what image does that conjure up for you? On the course or off? There are few different ways to look at it.
Off the course you have his sponsorships and public image as well as his marriage. All I will say about his private life is that it is none of our business. I have always maintained this stance about every individual I discuss on my radio show and I will maintain the same position in my writing. You and I have no idea what goes on behind close doors. We never will know the truth of Tiger’s marriage, the knowledge Elin had before and during it and what kind of arrangement they had for it. So that is the end of the discussion, it has no relevance.
His meteoric rise from amateur to world champion was amazing. We all marveled at his prowess. We were wowed by his golf shots and his creativity and respected his dominance. The talk was about how he was the best and at such a young age. The conversation included how many majors he would win and how fast he would eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ records.
As for the hit his public image has taken and the sponsorships he has lost, well that is another story. His off the course issues, have muddied his squeaky clean image that was so carefully crafted by his handlers. When he turned pro, the companies lined up for his services. They wanted to be associated with his greatness and they wanted to profit off of his success. Oh and they did. From the moment Nike introduced him with a simple commercial saying, “Hello World.”
The sponsors for the most part have dried up. The man ESPN The Magazine predicted would be the first One Billion Dollar Athlete is not the darling of Madison Avenue anymore. There are a few that have stood by him but most dropped him faster than a weekend golfer throwing his clubs into the water hazard on number 18 at their local muni. Most publicly said they wanted to go in another direction with their marketing and advertising dollars. Most would privately point to his image problems. So he doesn’t look like a walking billboard anymore.
I have maintained for years that one of the reasons that Tiger Woods was so dominate on the course was because he didn’t have to play for the money. He still doesn’t. Despite all the problems and the divorce, make no mistake, Woods has all the money he will ever need or spend, even if we tried to help him spend it.
Tiger walked to the first tee of his first professional tournament in 1996 as a millionaire. Win or lose, he didn’t have the pressure to make the cut to earn a pay check. He didn’t have to worry about the money list to earn his tour card. He just stepped up to that first tee and gripped it and ripped it. His talent and creativity was so good, despite a bad drive he could still see his way to par or even a birdie. Eagles came pouring out like rain. The wins started piling up. The majors too. Then it stopped. It all stopped.
Some people will point to his personal problems and say that is the cause of his on the field troubles. I don’t. I believe it has to do with that knee injury. The nagging knee injury. It has always been there. He has had a bad knee for years. He changed his swing over the years to compensate for his knee problems. And for a long time, it worked, He still could out drive, out putt and out think everyone else. That is why he was feared. That is why he dominated golf.
Today it’s a different story. Tiger is 36 years old. The knee is that old too. Sure, it has been scoped and scooped and rebuild and sliced and diced. He says it’s better than ever.
Tiger’s success on the course will come if his knee is the as good as he is saying it is. When everyone else was pointing to his marriage, I was pointing to his knee. He was just a little off and the talking heads would say, it’s his brain. He can’t get out of his head because of all his troubles. Not the case. The same guys that said he was the toughest mentalist in all of sports were now saying he couldn’t hack it mentally because of his off the course issues.
It is this simple folks, he wasn’t comfortable on his wheel. That lack of comfort affect his swing. It affected his putting and that is the reason why Tiger Woods has not been winning lately. You know the adage, you drive for show, you put for dough. Putting is all about feel. It’s all about balance.
He hasn’t had that standing over a four footer or a forty-four footer. That is the reason Tiger Woods has not dominated golf.
2012 brought him back to Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in ten years. Whether he roars or purrs this weekend, is not the issue.
It’s whether he finds his balance….on the green and off.