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Dec 02

Tiger’s Back

Tiger’s Back – Will He Ever Be “Crazy Good” Again?

Watch Tiger at the 18 Man Hero Challenge

All right, whatever Tiger Woods has done to repair whatever is wrong in the physical, mentalize away whatever is bugging him in the mind, and retooling the swing that won a blizzard of tournaments in his early career, it’s time for him to step out and try a test flight. That test will take place at his old home course in Orlando, Isleworth, December 3 through 7 in the 18 Man Hero Challenge. We’ve got be wondering how it will go.

tiger 2 Tiger had the option of hiring some wise old guru who would reshape him into a winner again, but he decided to hire a second pair of eyes instead. Some have criticized the choice of Chris Como, who is a “specialist in biomechanics of the golf swing,” but I see his point. When you’ve been at it this long, won that much, and still compete so fiercely, it sounds counter-productive to just turn your will over to a master, because you already are one. It’s not like law – “The man who defends himself has a fool for a client.” No, this has to be a collaborative effort, and you can’t ask someone like Tiger to stay out of his own process.
Golf Simplified logoThe sixteen-year-old tournament will include a strong field, but isn’t so glaringly public that we can dissect every move he makes, and open him up to the prattle of haters and adorers alike. I can’t imagine the number of questions he’ll want to answer for himself, from “Can I last?” to “Will I ever be crazy good again?”

Where do all the goals fit into this part of the recovery process? Does his mind ever go to the Nicklaus question anymore? Does his age of thirty-nine trouble him in ways out of the ordinary?

tiger 1That’s a question that would interest a fan. What’s thirty-nine for an athlete like that? For a more sedentary person, I can offer some experience. Thirty-nine is a wonderful age, where you can do all kinds of things well, and some about one percent less well. For someone as fit as Woods, however, that process has probably been stalled in large measure. Maybe if he got “crazy good” again, he could still be on track to set some more records, and even beat Rory once in a while.

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As someone who comes from a regular touring profession, I am particularly interested in where Wood’s mind has settled. After years of repetitive performance, no matter how much you love it, minds can wander to other ways of living, and the original “beat your head against the weekly brick wall” sometimes doesn’t feel as good as it used to. My mind has wandered to all sorts of alternatives, something I swore would never happen. Would something like this ever happen to Tiger Woods, who came to this earth to win a gazillion golf tournaments, and more than anyone else?

How malleable is Woods to makinig adjustments to a body that insists upon them? Is he chasing a restoration project to refashion the swing of yesteryear, or is he more deeply analytical and sly about it, allowing himself to evolve? I can’t imagine him becoming a lyric, ball sweeper type of player. He’s got an extraordinarily strong body, and knows how to time it for creating distance. He’d never want to give that up.

I’m sure he realizes that it isn’t a matter of life and death to make something prodigious happen this weekend – it is just a test flight, after all. He’s a calculating person, preparing for tournaments several weeks ahead while he plays. What I’m waiting to see is whether the simplest of all questions will be answered – I admit it. Will he ever be “crazy good” again?
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.