Golf’s prince, its chosen one, is now 40 years old. That’s right. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is now on the back nine in his own life.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen the fall of the sport’s prodigy and the rise of perhaps the newest “Tiger” in Jordan Spieth. After Spieth won the Masters in April, shooting 18 under for the tournament, it was clear that he was in for a rollercoaster ride of a year. He finished with a Green Jacket, United States Open title, and Player of the Year award to round out a few of his accolades.
I will not go and say that he is the next Tiger Woods – remember when we said that about Rory Mcilroy when he won two majors last year?
Woods is synonymous to golf as Kobe is to basketball. We all have caught ourselves saying “Kobe” before tossing a paper ball into a waste basket, or pumping our fist like Tiger after draining a putt (or doing anything extraordinary for that matter).
Woods’ dismal 2015 season is not the last of his worries. His body needs more reconstructing than the six-million dollar man (Woods does have the money to do that). Constant back issues and a revolving door of new swings lead this writer to believe that Woods’ best days are well behind him.
Everyone wanted to see Woods’ break Jack Nicklaus’ hallowed record of 18 Majors and fulfill what was set to be his destiny ever since he began to swing a modified club to fit his three-year-old body in his father’s garage.
Woods used to have an intimidation factor when he competed with others. He did not need to be leading on the first day, but if you knew you were paired with him for the final round, you were in for a drama-filled 18 holes and probably thought about how you’d spend the second place earnings.
Woods has not maintained that mental force field since the scandal with his numerous lovers came out in the winter of 2009. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that his head is not in the game anymore like it used to be. His laser focus has been spread abroad while his intimidation trait ceases to exist.
The late Yogi Berra said it best, “Ninety percent of this game is mental and the other half is physical.”
He was talking about baseball, but golf has the same principle.
What Woods should have done was stay consistent with his game. That was his biggest advantage. If you ever watch highlights from his prime years with Butch Harmon as his swing coach, you will see a textbook golf swing repeated over and over with zero flaws.
Harmon taught Woods ball-striking and accuracy instead of power and out-driving his competitors on the tee.
Since Harmon, Woods looks to be tied with Cal Ripken Jr. for most swing changes in a career. The only difference was it worked out better for Ripken.
As for his physical state, Woods can blame his high-intensity workouts for his numerous back injuries. Swing changes can be a factor in that complicated equation as well.
Some have even suggested performance enhancing drugs for the former world’s number one golfer after his quick increase in size, but that is a whole other can of worms.
Yes, a new era of golf has ushered itself into the spotlight, slowly pushing out the most iconic golfer since Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus held the spotlight many years ago.
At 40 years old with 14 Majors, the train has stopped for old Tiger, but the “what ifs” keep coming.
Mike Murphy is a third-year student majoring in communcation studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.