Tiger Slips in Recovery

Tiger Shoots 85 at Memorial

blairZac Blair had a great day today, in fact, one of the best in his life. He got to play with his idol, Tiger Woods, in the third round of the Memorial. Blair was a ten-year old kid when he watched Tiger win the PGA at Valhalla, and that was huge. His golf dream was to play with him in the same group – mission accomplished.

He said that Tiger was a pretty nice guy all day, and that it was a cool experience playing with him. He left Woods a note of thanks, with the hashtag “goat,” translated as “greatest of all time.” If Tiger held himself together, and was an agreeable golf partner for Blair, I’m impressed, because on the same day, the formerly great champion reached a new high, in score that is. Tiger has shot a round in the 80s three times in his career, and for the first decade and a half, it took a formidable British storm to do it. Today, he came in at 85, a good fifteen shots behind his greatest fan, Zac Blair, who brushed it off with impeccable manners and humanity. It’s true that one round of golf doesn’t define you, even as a golfer. Golf, like Lady Luck, is good to you one day, and brutal the next. Tiger has seen both sides of her, and in recent years, a heavy dose of the bad side.
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blair 2The sad part about all of this is that Tiger has been playing well, and slowly building his game and on-course identity again. Who knows, winning might be just around the corner, and then this kind of day happens. Again, it was the short game that betrayed him intermittently. In this tournament, Tiger has putted, at times, brilliantly, from long range, looking dangerous from twenty to thirty feet. In the same round, however, he misses three putts from five feet. Those character builders are scary to most of us, but Tiger is supposed to make the vast majority of them, being a superior green reader and possessing extreme hand sensitivity – well, used to. Tiger barely made the cut at all, and had to sink a putt of a little length to do it. At the 18th today, he put a driver in the drink, and added a quadruple bogey to his consecutive doubles. He will play alone on Sunday, and that looks even more sad.

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So, what is Tiger going to do with this, or should he do anything about it? There are choices. He could be done with it and just go through the motions. Or, he could try to gain tranquility, and use the fourth round, by himself, for self-schooling. Eighteen rounds of golf with no leaderboard pressure for self-teaching and equilibrium. As Nicklaus himself said, Tiger is in a better position to fix it than anyone else.

It’s been a good looking comeback, actually, and Tiger has been regaining some of the magic. I hope that he won’t look at this nightmare day as centrally important. No comeback is smooth, in golf or life, and from time to time, we regress. This round of 85 has nothing to do with Tiger Woods, and I hope he feels that way as well. It doesn’t define where he is, or where he’s going, just so long as he won’t let it do that.

I’ve never been a huge Tiger fan. I’ve been impressed, along with the rest of the world, but his emotionalism and seeming entitlement have always bothered me, if that’s what they are. I used to root against him, inwardly saying that “I’ll cheer for you when you get some manners.” Now, I’m experiencing a certain degree of remorse. I wouldn’t have wished his past six or seven years on anyone, and I want to see Tiger come back and make great statements again. The first thing is to leave that 85 at home. Don’t bring it to the course in your brain.
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