Friday, July 22, 2011

A Tiger In A Tailspin

Remember a few scant years ago when Tiger Woods not only was the best golfer on the planet, but also the poster person for integrity?
Amazing what hitting a fire hydrant can do, eh?
Since that eventful night in November 2009, Tiger has completely unraveled. His personal life got mulched with the stories of raging infidelity surfacing. Next came the expected divorce. (As an aside, I don’t fault the guy for wanting to tap hot women and the occasional Perkins manager, but not while married) Next came the physical breakdown of his left knee which spread to his Achilles.
Deep breath here Tiger. Your hot Swedish wife divorced your cheatin’ ass and your personal temple, your body, was also telling you something - chill out.
But Tiger’s not wired that way. Play through the pain. After all, he won the 2008 US Open on one good leg. The personal life? None of your goddamn business. Soldier on. Next came a truly WTF moment as he switched swing coaches, from renowned Hank Haney to, uhhh…
Sean Foley?
Sean Freekin Foley. A guy whose name sent people scrambling to Google search to find out who the hell he was. Somewhere Butch Harmon had a good guffaw on that. The reason this choice was so confounding was that Foley changed Tiger’s swing to the ‘stack and tilt’ method which relies on having body weight pre-set on the left side at address and keeping it there throughout the swing. It is a simpler method of swinging that, in theory, creates more consistent shots. The main problem with stack and tilt is that it puts a lot of pressure on the left knee. And that’s if you got a good left knee. Tiger’s left knee has been operated on four times. And now he has a swing coach teaching him a method that stresses the weakest part of his body.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the Folly of Foley.
But the worst was yet to come. This week it was announced that Tiger fired his longtime caddy, Steve Williams. The man on his bag for 13 of his 14 major wins. The guy whose shoulder he sobbed like a baby on after winning the 2006 British Open, the first major win after Tiger’s father died. The guy that was Tiger’s on-course enforcer, a guy not afraid to confiscate cameras or go after hecklers.
So let’s add all this up. He lost his wife (personal life stabilizer), his swing coach (swing stabilizer), and now his caddy (crowd stabilizer). And all were choices he made; the best decisions he could arrive at. Which shows just how mentally lost he is. Three stabilizers, gone.
My take on all this is that Tiger lost his true stabilizer when his father died. Earl Woods told Tiger what to do and Tiger did it, no questions asked. So what he needs at this point is someone he can totally trust to make decisions for him. If he were in a 12-step program, such a person would be called a sponsor.
He is self-will run riot.
But that’s for the long haul. My immediate advice for Tiger, which I am positive he will not take, is shut it down. All of it. Not just for the remainder of the 2011 season, but 2012 as well. Do not even touch a club or look at a golf course for a year. Tour the world. Go bang some Thai babes. Climb a mountain. Swim with sharks. Refresh, relax, refocus. He needs to heal - mentally, physically, spiritually.
And find a sponsor. Get rid of the sycophants and yes men, and find someone that he will entrust with all his decisions that has the courage to tell him when he's screwing up. Let that person pick his caddy, his swing coach. Let that person tell him where to be and when, so all Tiger has to do is what he does - or used to do - better than anyone on the planet. Win golf tournaments.
Because it has become extremely evident that his best thinking is destroying him.

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