It is a cold hard world out there. Just ask Tiger Woods, he’ll tell you. At least he would if he were the type to admit to any fallacy within his psyche.
But that isn’t the way of the Tiger. Hell will freeze over before he is heard to utter anything remotely resembling an admission of defeat. Never mind that having had a share of the lead heading into the final rounds of last Weekend’s US Open, he flopped when it mattered most.
Despite the writing being on the wall after round three, he still wasn’t ready to concede defeat.
Fair enough, but what Woods fails to realise is that fate has an unpleasant habit of taking any aspirations the ambitious have and heading off in whichever direction that takes its fancy, regardless of what its subject may wish for.
Unfortunately for Woods, he may never recapture the form of his glory days until he learns to accept that, particularly post scandal days, he can no longer manipulate any given situation to best suit his needs.
This of course means that he will now have to acquire the mental skills to perform at his optimum, under duress. Admittedly, this is not exactly breaking news, but after two and a half years he is still clearly struggling with the reality of an unfriendly environment.
Will this change? Despite signs of improvement over the previous few months, doubt remains.
Gone are the days when his competitors were intimidated by anything and everything Tiger.
With the help of the PR machine that amped him up to be the perfect family man and the fawning public rallying behind his every move, he could do no wrong; we all loved him and everything he stood for. He gave us the best of both worlds; he was a nice guy whose family values resonated, and a champion to boot.
He made us all believe we could be someone, too, which offered us hope beyond our ordinary everyday existences. We loved him for it and he felt comfortable within an environment that he was able to control.
He could get away with almost anything with the public on his side.
But not now, for he lost their respect. Down came the aura of invincibility that had prevailed for so long. The prey is no longer the hunted, and more than ever now is on equal terms having become every bit the hunters.
Tiger is now nothing more than a cub wandering the wilderness of the long lonely fairways desperately seeking out the habitation of old needed to sate his insatiable appetite for acceptance as he searches earnestly for the one key ingredient in mental toughness that will once again set the raging fires of high performance alight with a searing intensity that no other can withstand.
It is a cold hard world out there. Just ask Tiger Woods, he’ll tell you. On second thoughts, nah, don’t bother, he proberly hasn’t learnt yet.
At least that is what you would surmise by his response when asked to comment on seventeen year old amateur Beau Hossler, who was leading after round one. All Woods had to do was conjure up some complementary remarks about a young up and comer, a few pleasantries, a smile and then move on with his day. Instead he responded by pointedly picking the kid to pieces. It smacked of a man sour with his lot, of someone lacking the confidence in his ability, desperately concerned about a competitor getting an edge. Not of a golfer that knew he had a seventeen year olds measure, not to mention the rest of the field.
To be sure, it was not a good look. Already, the public’s respect for him as a person had diminished to the point of non-existence. Certainly it wasn’t the way to win back a doubting public. There will be only one way to do that: win a major. Then they will forget.
Problem is Woods does not appear to have the confidence in himself that he used to possess. That protective cloak has been torn asunder. It is now ripped to a pulp and lying wastefully in the grisliest of bunkers as a new breed of golfers that do not fear the former great trample over the sediment of Tiger’s once proud golfing spirit.
Interesting to note over that torturous final two days was Woods choice of attire.
Gone were the loud colors of days gone by when he was busy obliterating opponents as he relentlessly marched on to a sensational fourteen major titles. Nowhere to be seen were the bright red shirts. Now, granted, this does not seem like a huge issue, but maybe it is indicative of a man that, at the very least, subconsciously, no longer has the confidence to go out and take the fight to the golfing world on his own terms.
It is almost as if he was trying to blend in. Surely not.
Whatever the problem was, the only thing in the red by the end of seventy-two holes was his scorecard.
In the end, despite there having been a myriad of reasons put forward for the demise of Woods over the last two days, maybe it comes down to something as simple as that lack of self-belief.
Until he rediscovers that inner confidence, his much desired fifteenth title will continue hiding out in the far flung reaches of the barren desert that is his major ambition.
This can only mean that a bear will go down in history as the greatest ever, not a tiger.