I Miss Tiger – Jerk and All
I miss golf already. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not swearing off the game just because Tiger is done, but I promise you it won’t be as much fun to watch. You noticed that phrase didn’t you? “Tiger is done.” A strong statement when he is just calling his absence an indefinite leave. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf,” said Woods, who has had four surgeries to his left knee and underwent back surgery on March 31 of last year.
Here’s the rub – Tiger is a perfectionist and so his scores will perhaps never again live up to the lofty standards that he set for himself early in his career. Paul Azinger told USA Today that Tiger is trying the same thing with his swing. “I’d like to see Tiger kick the video camera to the curb. What Tiger has done is sacrifice a winning swing at the altar for a quest for the perfect swing. And a perfect swing doesn’t exist.” But neither does the perfect field without Tiger.
Don’t get me wrong, even if he stopped tinkering with his swing, he’s not the same guy he was back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. That guy that many of us enjoyed so much was almost like a bully on the golf course. Taking no prisoners and striking fear in the heart of opponents without even saying a word. The strange part is I don’t like bullies and yet I loved watching Tiger mount a charge and melt a field. Even stranger, I don’t even like Tiger and yet I would love to see him back in the game.
Obviously, I don’t know Tiger very well, but I have talked to him several times in interviews and he has always been a jerk. The first time we interviewed him in the early 90’s we had heard about this young phenom at the Junior Byron Nelson Tournament. We sent an intern to grab a quick interview with him and Tiger belligerently declined the request. He was a jerk at fifteen and he still is today. Incidentally the intern was Joe Tessitore who now does play by play for ESPN college football and hosts their SEC network show.
In despite of all that, my favorite times watching golf were watching Tiger. When my kids were small I took them out to the Byron Nelson and we watched Tiger tee off in the last group on sixteen. He was having trouble with the driver that day. My son who was about six at the time was learning to play golf with dad. He watched Tiger very closely and after Woods teed off and the crowd cleared, Kal came to me and said, “Dad, I watched Tiger swing and we are doing it wrong.” I asked him to show me how it should be done so he grabbed a club and took a normal swing and them slammed the head of his club on the ground. He said, “That’s how Tiger swings.”
The truth is not even Tiger knows how Tiger swings right now. He changes swing coaches like I change socks and he just cannot settle on anything. It is confounding to those who watch the game, even former professional athletes who know a little something about repeating the same motion over and over again. Former Rangers pitcher Darren Oliver told MLB.com what Woods is doing is crazy, “If a guy’s a .300 hitter, he doesn’t overhaul his swing. Yet Tiger, the greatest of his generation, constantly rebuilds. And now it’s gone to his head.”
That is why I don’t think Tiger will ever be the same. He doesn’t need a swing coach, he needs a brain coach, and that coach must change nearly four decades of brain training. So for the rest of his career we will likely see Tiger try another comeback and when he can’t put up numbers like he wants to, he’ll pull a Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, “Oh my arm, It’s broken!” And as much as I don’t like Tiger, I will miss him.