by Rob Loeber
He’s not the most sympathetic figure. He’s not easy to root for anymore and he’s made a colossal mess of his personal life. But Tiger Woods could use a hug.
The man was once on top of the world. Woods was at the pinnacle of the game of golf and on a collision course with history. He was one of the most dominant, mentally tough athletes of all time. He was married to a Swedish blonde so gorgeous that countries would go to war for her. With that wife and two beautiful kids, the Woods’ looked like the family that comes in the picture with the frame you’d buy at Hobby Lobby. In other words, Woods had it all.
Now he seems pathetic.
Everyone knows about his fall from grace off the course, his public humiliation, and his divorce.
But he’s just as pathetic on the golf course. Thursday’s 77 in the first round of the PGA Championship was Woods’ worst first round at a major in his career. He hit into 13 bunkers and played the last 13 holes at ten over par. After the round, Woods called it a “calamity.”
In reality, the whole year has been a calamity. The 35-year-old Woods missed nearly three months with another injury to his ravaged left knee. Then he fired his caddie Steve Williams only to return to the course and watch Williams win with Adam Scott. Stevie and Tiger won 13 majors together, but Williams called Scott’s win, the best victory of his career. That’s the sound of a knife twisting. Woods played inconsistently at Firestone and if he misses the cut today, he will most likely miss out on the Fedex Cup, a four tournament playoff to end the PGA season.
Thing is, Tiger is lying to himself. Last week he told reporters he was close to finding his game. We’ve been hearing that line of bull for almost two years now, ever since he decided to change his swing for the zillionth time. Woods isn’t close. He isn’t even within sniffing distance of his old self. He can’t find the fairway, his irons look average, and he’s not making any putts.
Woods isn’t only lying to himself about golf. He’s lying to himself about his own happiness. He just fired one of his best friends. He has no one in his life that will tell it like it is or even stand up to him. He’s put up a wall around himself so high and so thick, that he comes off as cold, out of touch, and disingenuous. He’s always been very private and kind of robotic, but maybe it’s time to let other people in.
He once had a wife and kids to come home to and he could share with them the triumphs as well as the disappointments. Maybe Tiger will never admit it, but he needed that. We all need that. We all need human interaction in the form of people who hold us accountable while still loving us unconditionally. Woods has cars, mansions, boats, and everything else that should add up to happiness. Instead he looks like a man who is unsatisfied and unfulfilled. He’s been living this lifestyle and living this lie for so long, that it’s nearly impossible for him to change.
Woods has already experienced one of the most epic declines of any athlete in any sport. He can regain his greatness but not if he continues to demonstrate this stubbornness and egotistical behavior. He told us he would learn from his transgressions and affairs but he comes off as the same old Tiger. How about trying some real, heart-felt apologies? How about showing people some warmth? You know, maybe sign a few autographs after a round for a change? How about just trying to be honest with yourself?
Maybe, just maybe Woods will finally find his game when he finally relaxes. The guy is wound tighter than a bull in a rodeo chute. Something’s got to give. Maybe he’ll find some true friends, find a meaningful relationship, develop a personality and ditch this aura of invincibility. Maybe he’ll forget about the swing change and the pressure to win and just enjoy the game of golf again.
In the meantime, he could really use that hug.