Monday, February 14, 2011

Not My Valentine: Tiger Woods Revisited

On this Valentine’s Day, Tiger Woods is the last person I should write about. But considering today is also “Single Awareness Day” or “Black Monday,” it may be time to follow up on Tiger Woods: Where is the (word) Love?
On February 19, 2010 Woods made his first public appearance following the full disclosure of his “transgressions” when he delivered a prepared, public statement. I listened to all 14 minutes; he never once said the word “love.“ Tiger apologized and vowed to change his ways—yet he did so without informing his fans, sponsors and the media that he loves his wife, loves his family, or loves the game of golf. I walked away from his talk and thought not about what he said, but what he didn't say....and that says a lot.

Tiger completed the press conference and we waited with baited breath—how would he perform at the Masters? Would he continue to dominate the sport as he had in the previous decade?

I admit, I cheered for him at the Masters out of desire to know as an athlete, was he that good that he could put his personal life aside. The mental demands of golf are tremendous. Did Tiger have command of the sport in such a way that he could check his personal problems at the door? Inquiring minds—or at least mine—wanted to know.The irony of the 2010 Masters could not have been scripted better. Golf and sports fans alike watched as Phil Mickelson captured his third title. His wife and the mother of his three children met him at the 18th hole to congratulate him. Amy Mickelson had done that many times—only not previously as a woman who was fighting breast cancer. Due to chemotherapy, she wasn’t even strong enough to watch him most days of the tournament. Amy mustered the strength to do so on that fateful Sunday. We are all glad she did. For once the gods got it right.

Tiger fared well—maybe better than many expected with his fourth place finish. And from that day forward, I was no longer interested in his accomplishments.

At the US Open in Pebble Beach in June, I was completely disgusted when he received a standing ovation at this first tee. This is not a man who overcame the death or a child or beaten cancer. Why we in the sports world should support and rally behind Tiger is unclear to me.
Infidelity, deceit and divorce hurts all of us whether we know it or not.

And it has obviously taken its toll on the former number one player in the world. Just this past weekend, Tiger was one stroke off the lead going into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. When he shot a 75 on Sunday, he finished 7 strokes behind the leader.

Golf is physical—it demands great hand-eye coordination. It involves skill for the long and short game, strength, and flexibility. But it is obviously just as mentally demanding. Analysts recognize that Tiger’s swing is off. He needs to adjust and make changes. As physical as that sounds—it’s 80% mental.

Golf is tremendously mental…and so is love. And what human does not want to love and be loved. Even before the "fall," Tiger was human, right? We treated him for a long time like he wasn’t. Perhaps that is what we see today on the golf course—a human being named Tiger Woods, extremely talented at the game of golf. Working on his mental game….and love.

Photo Credits
Elin & Tiger
Mickelson Family
Lone Tiger

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