Monday, August 9, 2010

The Existential Golfing "Why?"

I'll say this. I almost feel sorry for him now. Almost.

Tiger Woods is in a world of hurt. That much is apparent if you look at his face. The eyes give it away. The eyes always do. They are the window to the soul.

Tiger, has a troubled soul.

Here, look at the following series of pictures. These are the eyes of man who is more than just unhappy with being "18 over par, when my handicap is supposed to be zero."

These are sad, sad eyes. You can see the sadness right through the action shots of him hitting his shots.

Pundits are scrambling to explain why a guy who has been Secretariat on a course like Firestone, could finish essentially DFL this past weekend, and look horrible while doing it.

The short and easy answer, is the one Tiger gave himself following Sunday's slapfest 77. "It's been a long year.... a very long year."

We know what he's saying, even though he won't say it.

But is that all it is? Is a pending 6-figure-plus divorce and shared custody of his two small children enough to render golf's Superman into Clark from accounting with a 5 handicap?

I say, no way. The problem runs deeper. Tiger has lost his "why?"

You know, as in "why" am I playing this stupid game. The existential "why?" The very same nuclear question I myself have grappled with as a golfer, and maybe you have too.


Think about it. "Why" does Tiger play golf? Before, the answers were straightforward and clear.

a. He's great at it.
b. He loves to dominate.
c. He's climbing Mt. Nicklaus
d. He loves making money.
e. He's doing it for the kids.
f. He can be married to a blonde hottie.
g. He can get lots of side action.

Now, every one of those reasons has been either totaled, or at least severely dented.

a. He's no longer so good at it.
b. His peers no longer fear him.
c. The summit of Mt. Nicklaus is shrouded in fierce storms.
d. It will take years to earn back all the money he's about to surrender.
e. His kids may end up not liking him very much.
f. The blonde wife is gone.
g. How are you going to get the same kind of side action now?

So if you ask me, I'm sorta impressed Tiger can even break 80 right now on a tough course. If you were in such a deep fog of "what am I doing, and why am I here" how would you handle it?

I think the enormity and finality of what Tiger did to his own world, has finally come crashing down upon him. For the first part of this golf season, he was able to suppress that.

No longer.

Thud. It's here. It's real. It's not going away. He's just gonna have to deal with it.

Somehow, Tiger Woods is going to have to come to peace with who he is now - and there are redeeming qualities beneath the churlish veneer - and who he wants to be going forward.

He has to find a new, and compelling "why" for playing this game at the highest of levels.

He'll also have to summon off of his legendary will, determination, and focus to get those last four majors in the ten years between now and age 45.


Here's a shocking photo I bet you thought you'd never see! Tiger Woods, teeing off on Sunday on the first tee, before a "friends and family" sized gallery.



Also, CBS had a nice montage of just how all-over-the-place El Tigre was on Sunday. Let's see if the copyright department shoots this one out of the internet sky or not.


  1. Does Pavin even play him anything besides singles?

    Coach? We don't need not steenking swing coach!

  2. That tee-off pic is intense. It has the same effect on me as seeing a full stadium at a FL Marlins game. Disbelief.

  3. Golf is the stupidest game in the world. It's boring and unexciting and it's for people who are running away from something in life like a bad boss, a pain-in-the-neck girl friend, a bad home life etc, etc. Write about something more exciting like horse racing or college football.

  4. Whoops, tenth place doesn't automatically make the team:

    Does Pavin even select him?

  5. Frankly, I think the "eyes" stuff is bullshit.

    The rest of your conjecture reminds me of the comments you made a few years ago (which are true as hell) on how really ignorant we all are concerning our fav NFL team. We 'know' maybe 10% of the superficial stuff and virtually nothing of any breadth or depth. That applies to most anything sports related. We don't know jack about whats running through his head. "Those eyes" may reflect nothing more than a hangover from the debauchery of the nite(s) before.

    Athough I'm not an Eldred fan, I hope your opinion is right. I hope this becomes his "hit bottom" moment, asks some serious questions about life and is redeemed in the process.

    Wouldn't hurt if he dumped the gorilla from his payroll. And Cory, DON'T select him! He's NOT Tiger anymore.

  6. Steve, I know you like conspiracy theories, so heres one:
    Tiger is tanking it. Someone in Tiger's PR camp decided the only way to get people on his side again is to get people to feel sorry for him, and what better way than to bomb at the end of the year so that people have the whole offseason to feel like he's hit rock bottom. He'll come back strong next year and they'll be able to pitch it as a story of redemption...

  7. Small nit...the divorce is going to cost Tiger 9, not 6, figures. No one would notice a $500,000 settlement, but $500,000,000 certainly catches your eye.

  8. right kevin. I think the consensus is $100,000,000 for whatshername. (His total net worth is stated at $500,000,000...believable if ur talkin 1 billion total gross in his career.)

  9. I think the fact that he fired his swing coach has more to do with his plummet than anything else.

    The athlete that I think Tiger's career parallels is Mike Tyson. Like Tiger, Tyson dominated his sport. Then he fired the coaches (trainers in Tyson's case) that were responsible for getting him to the top, his mechanics changed ever so slightly, and he became beatable and common.

    Although the two individuals are different in that Tiger didn't rape anybody, their career paths are eerily similar is several significant ways. Their 'little heads' got them to make bad decisions, the death of their father (father-figure in Tyson's case) was the beginning of their downfall, they were bigger than their sport until they surrounded themselves with yes-men and fired anyone that would stand up to them.

    I doubt that Tiger will reach the depths that Tyson reached, but his rise wasn't as dramatic, so his descent shouldn't be as sharp; that being said, many similarities between these two icons aren't too hard to find.

  10. Can't wait to see Tiger at Whistling Straits! I'll be there and I'm hoping that I too can get a Titleist upside the melon.

  11. I agree with the 'tank' conspiracy(an oft-used ploy in today's .5 second attention span world), but I also agree with Czabe's summary. He's gased upstairs. His golf game is a technical wreck due mostly to that fact. Just take that feeling EVERY guy has when you're trying to squeeze in a round while the old lady/GF is out shopping. It mentally distracts a guy, since that inevitable voicemail or honey-do stop is waiting after the 18th hole. Well, multiply that feeling by 10,000, and try to play 72 on a course like Firestone. I say this with no sympathy for Tiger or you poor schleps that actually have to deal with the either scenario. Remember, if you want to play(golf or trim), don't get married. And stay outta the rough one way or another...