As you are reading this Tiger Woods may or may not be back playing tournament golf but the question mark about his future will not easily go away.
The obvious conclusion is Woods is too great a player to not come back at some point but the signs we have to say are not great.
His body more than anything seems to be letting him down and the constant demands he has placed on it both in the gym and on the course over the years seem to be taking a lasting toll.
His troubles with the short game are well documented and I for one never thought I would see the day Tiger Woods would look like an ordinary club golfer, taking a putter instead of a wedge from well off the green and suffering a clear crisis in confidence with his short game.
There is one of the simplest, but saddest, sentences ever written by one of the greatest of all sports writers, Duncan Hamilton, in his book ‘A Last English Summer’. “What begins also ends.”
Not one person, no matter how good they are, can inoculate themself against the march of time. We make the mistake when we are in the midst of a glorious run to believe the good times will last forever. Not only in golf but in many areas of our life.
We become complacent to the point of indifference. If anything, the demise of Woods sharpens the focus for us all on the necessity to realise the importance of the next round we are going to play. The next opportunity we have to play can either be just another round or it can be a realisation of how precious each game actually is.
Far from bringing a message of doom it tends to give us a sense of perspective when it comes to a dropped shot or a missed putt.
If this were truly the last round you were ever going to play I suspect minor irritations would be brushed off and you would seek to make the most of each shot and the experience of the whole day.
Not one person, no matter how good they are, can inoculate themself against the march of time
It is very easy to forget just how dominant Woods actually was. If we go back to the year 2000 it could be argued with a reasonably confident case that he played in 12 months perhaps the greatest golf any human has ever played on the world stage.
He matched Ben Hogan’s three Majors in a year from 1953 and won the Open and US Open that year by an incredible aggregate margin of 21 shots!
His dominance in the first year of the new millennium was almost total. For me it is interesting to look back at a video clip filmed around that time when Woods talked about his mental approach to the game.
A couple of phrases he used at the time were illuminating – “I get so lost in the shot at hand” and “It is as if my body just takes over and I am standing back and watching myself play. I just get out of my own way”.
This would seem to be the words of a man who is totally focused on the task of the shot at hand, not on how he is going to try to swing the club.
In recent times after four or five attempts to remodel his swing technique it does seem that Woods has become very occupied in the swing as opposed to the shot.
Good swing mechanics are an essential part of becoming the best player you can be, but when we get lost in ‘golf swing’ as opposed to ‘golf’ we start to follow a path worn out by many who have fallen by the wayside and never been able to recapture the art of scoring.
We all probably need to remind ourselves at the moment of how lucky we are to be observing and enjoying the dominance displayed by Rory McIlroy over the rest of the world’s golfers. It is a special time for us to watch these magic moments with the only certainty being that they won’t last forever.
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