Monday, August 09, 2010

Taming the Tiger

The top three signs that Tiger Woods is completely and totally off his game.

1. Scores. Tiger Woods finished this weekend's tournament at WGC-Bridgestone at +18, a full 30 shots off of the lead, and ended the tournament in 78th place out of 80 players in the weekend's tournament. This marks Tiger's worst score in any golf tournament as a professional player, and his worst four-round tournament at Firestone in his career, a course where he has previously failed to finish in worse than 4th place at any time in his professional career. This weekend saw Tiger shoot all four rounds over par at a golf tournament for the first time in nearly eight years, and only the fourth time in his 15-year career, the first time outside of one of the sport's four major championships.

2. The Goatee. Those who watched Tiger or saw this highlights this weeknend noted that the goatee is back for the first time in a few years. Although Tiger has done this before, I felt like I could tell from watching him this weekend that this time the goatee was there with a real purpose: to spark a comeback, a rebirth. To convince the others he was playing against, to convince the fans, and, I sense, most of all to convince himself that something has palpably changed from his play over most of the rest of this year, which has already seen some of Tiger's most human-looking performances in an otherwise glorious professional golfing career. As I looked at Tiger's scruff around his mouth this weekend, I could not help but think back to when Michael Jordan cracked out the goatee when he returned to the NBA in Washington and tried to help make the Wizards a champion or at least a contender. At some point when the greats who never thought they could lose it, suddenly feel like they've lost it, they turn to a cosmetic change like facial hair, haircut, their clothes or uniform, etc. as if that is actually going to have some positive impact on their sports performance. And, as was the case with MJ a decade ago, it rarely ever works.

3. Attitude. More than just reading the box scores on Monday morning, if you actually watched Tiger Woods play this weekend, then you saw a guy who is wholly different from the golfer we have watched so many times step up in the clutch, whack the ball down the middle of the fairway 25 yards further than anyone else, and just blow away the field on Sunday, if not on Thursday. Tiger simply did not exhibit one whit of the perserverance, of the concentration, and most of all of that absolute focus and insistence on winning, that has made people like him, Michael Jordan, etc. so successful over their careers. For the first time that I can recall, Tiger was walking up to the ball on Saturday and especially on Sunday, barely taking any time to prepare, make a read, take some practice swings or anything, and just hauling off and wailing the ball. Most often into the crowd, off some trees, or wherever it may land. In many many years of watching Tiger do his thing, this is the first and only time I have seen him looking so vulnerable, and just generally so damned human.

It was almost enough to actually make me sad for the guy.

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Blogger OES said...

I like the Michael comparison, but everything else is somewhat obvious.

Obviously he is off his game completely, but he's definitely going to come back. Regression to the mean. He can't just fall off the earth like fattie David Duval.

Oh and lastly,The goatee looked turrrible.

12:00 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

What are the odds he's used PED's and is currently off them, as getting caught at this point in his career would be something even his PR machine couldn't recover from?


Like I've mentioned before, any world class athlete found caught using them would not surprise me in the least. Does the PGA even have testing?

10:11 PM  
Blogger OES said...

hit for show and putt for doe. Steroids can't help where it truly counts.

However, I am sure it is used and think it's >50% that Tiger does.

"The notion that there aren't any steroids in golf is incredibly naive," Yesalis says. "Steroids work. There's too much money in the sport, and you can manage the steroids the right way, without serious side effects. You can certainly make the argument that the benefits outweigh the risks. What reasonable person thinks that athletes in any sport -- golf included -- aren't doing it?"

11:02 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Tiger's association with this Dr. Galea who distributed HGH to tons of professional athletes is well known. I would guess it is 75% likely or greater that Tiger received HGH from him and/or elsewhere.

Steroids, HGH, of course it would help a golfer's game, I don't think it is debatable that it would make you hit the ball further and significantly help your scores. Sure the putting is probably not affected by it but overall scores would be dramatically I would guess.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Hitting the ball further is not as big of a concern as you might think for a PGA tour pro.

Golf is more about mental toughness than ANYTHING else at that level. All of those guys can stripe it and they are even better at putting.

Tiger is toast. I don't like his chances of beating Jack's record nor do I think he will win another major anytime soon.

1:49 AM  
Blogger OES said...

Schaubs, I rarely make bets (besides in poker), but more than welcome to make one about Tiger's future, given your stance =)

2:08 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Ironically Tiger shaved his goatee for this week's major...

OES - I will make you a bet, but I am not going to on and say he will NEVER win another major. I just don't think he will win one anytime soon. I don't like his chances of beating Jack, but you never know maybe he will beat Jack's record of the oldest ever major winner and win one at the age of 47...

bettin might be silly only because it would take for ever for the bet to settle...

8:57 AM  
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7:40 PM  

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