When Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in the mid 1990’s he revolutionised the sport of golf. 1991 had seen a victory for the unorthodox “wild thing” John Daly in the PGA championship and while his “grip it and seriously rip it” approach was appealing to many, his 1995 British Open victory aside, he never really had the consistency of game to make a lasting impression on the sport.
Woods however, was different; athletic, powerful, focussed, methodical, competitive and intimidating, he had the golfing world at his feet through the end of the nineties and for much of the first decade of the new century – record after record fell to this genius of the game. But now it all seems to be so different.
After the first round of the 2010 PGA championship, Woods is in contention, three shots behind Bubba Watson – not to be disparaging to Bubba, but should Watson even be on the same course as Tiger?
After the opening found of the British Open, Tiger was a couple adrift of the lead also, but when Friday had come and gone, so too had his challenge.
The extent of Mister Woods infidelities are well documented elsewhere, so I won’t cover them here, but what does need to be considered here, is the exact effect that his ongoing estrangement from wife Elin is having on his mental state and is it that the fight he’s embroiled in with her, has left him without the wherewithal to fight on the course?
There can be no doubting his brilliance, a master of his craft does not lose his abilities overnight like Samson shorn of his hair, but perhaps its not his brilliance that has faded, but his desire and unless that desire is rekindled soon, then his brilliance might not matter any more.
When the sordid details of his private life began to emerge, I for one thought to myself that once the storm blows over, this guy is going to be utterly unstoppable – imagining that he would perform like a force of nature freed up from having to live his life of lies and deceit and ready to use golf as a means of exercising his ghosts. To be honest, I’ve been utterly amazed at his tepid displays of late and really did not expect a reaction like this – it’s very much as if he his just going through the motions. Maybe that in itself is ominous if he is going through the motions, is this true for every element of his game? Is he training properly? Preparing properly? If the answer is no, then all will surely come good when he knuckles down and puts in the hard hours.
Either way, the next 12 months in the career of one Tiger Woods will be very telling indeed.
It’s noticeable that for the 2011 iteration of the EA Sports franchise Tiger Woods PGA Golf, that for the first time, Woods shares the cover with Rory McIlroy, potentially the game’s next superstar and victory in a major aside, a prodigy who’s progress is emulating if not exceeding that of Woods.
Spin will say that McIlroy being on the cover is merely to represent the addition of a Ryder Cup mode to the game and that McIlroy represents the European half of the equation. But its hard to shake the feeling that with some of his many sponsors having already bailed that this could be case of one of his highest profile sponsors indicating that Mr. Eldrick (Tiger to you and me) Woods is getting close to the precipice.
Time alone will tell if he is to come back or fall in to the abyss.