Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bob Lobel: Is this Finally Rock Bottom for Tiger Woods?

By Bob Lobel (@boblobel)

If there were a way to verbalize the feelings I have watching Tiger Woods hit bottom, then I surely would do it here. I can't. 

I know how difficult this game is. Seeing Tiger play alone at the latest pro tour event, a symbol of professional incompetence, was stunning to say the least. Yeah, they all say you have to get to the bottom before you can begin to rise again. Maybe, maybe not. 

I have no sense of where this guy is going with his sport. Maybe out altogether. What would you do if you were the one facing the humiliation of what the once greatest golfer ever, safe to say, had to endure. For one thing, almost every athlete wants to be a pro golfer even more than the sport she/he is making a good living doing. Why is that?  For one, you can play golf when the real career is all over.  

You can have actual friends who don’t plan on using your name for their personal gain. And certainly all these competitors know that this game, spelled “flog” backwards, is beyond difficult.  

My question on seeing Tiger finish at the bottom is, "hey, does this guy have any friends?" 

I'll bet when the game was there  week in and week out, there were plenty of friends around to get autographs, snag a golf ball, give a first person account of the greatest shot ever… On and on. 

If you were asked what the greatest shot you ever saw in golf, would Tiger be on the human end of it? He would be for me. I can think of three: One from a fairway bunker, another to be described a green side chip, and a putt from another area code. That’s when Tiger could claim to be at least one of the longest off the tee that’s ever played the game.  There is something very unsettling to see one of the best ever become a sad, lonely figure, who apparently can't do anything but play golf at a level few seldom sniff.  

Certainly, there is a moment or incident to blame for the fall from grace.  No sense reviewing it, it was his problem and he caused it. But, while it would be convenient to blame the family stuff, perhaps his workout routine that created a chiseled athlete is more the root cause of then and now.

Maybe all those tight muscles and what goes with them, is not  the best kind of shape to be in to play a game that does emphasize small muscle movements along with the big muscle, big swing, big hitter  type of guy that tiger used to be. He had both the big muscle control and the smaller “touch” muscle capability which made him a genius at what he did. So he has changed instructors, and I ask why did he do that? So he changed sponsors, and again, I know why, but where are the results?

It's hard to play this game when there are distractions, and when you change swings, sponsors, caddies, and girlfriends, it doesn’t leave much time to get back to some sort of competitive golf shape. Throughout his whole ordeal from top to bottom, one would think he could figure it out. Apparently, too many distractions. 

For one, playing golf at the top level in the world can carry your soul away from all those stupid other human problems. His problem is inside, not out. Change your shrink not your coach. 

The answer, if ever to be found, is closer than you think. Think inside Tiger. 

It is a sad story for me. I watch him for his greatness, not his mistakes. Lately, there have been so many more mistakes.  Of course, when your first one off the tee in the morning and play alone it's easy to see his mistakes. There is no one else. I hope, for his sake, it doesn’t stay that way. But, with this game, it's is so much easier to fall out of favor with the Golf Gods than to get back in their good graces. 

You know that and so do I.

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