Until November last year, Tiger was on top of the world as an athlete, had a beautiful family, gazillions of cash, and a sterling reputation. Oh, how Tiger’s life has changed in the past 7 months. His reputation is toast; his beautiful family is askew; his bank account will get much smaller (and his future income is reduced); and, finally, he seemingly has become just another pro struggling to make the cut on Friday afternoon. He is in free-fall from grace!
So, the questions are: Can Tiger regain his supremacy in golf? Or is he destined to be a pedestrian pro for the remainder of his career? Of course, the answer is not clear at this time. It will take time for him to redirect his mental energy after all that has happened. But, there are a few certainties. First, his reputation will forever be sullied….he will never live up to the image that was created for him. Second, while he will never want for money, his earning potential from sponsors will never recover. He is lucky that Nike has not pulled the plug. And, the family that Elin and Tiger once shared is over!
Tiger’s recent performances have not lived up to his or his fans expectations. He had a real chance on the final day of the USGA Open and failed to conjure a good round. This week, he failed to break par in any single round at the AT&T National on a fabulous course, Aronimink, near Philadelphia. This is the first time in 11 years that Tiger has failed to break par in any of the four rounds of a tournament. But, when assessing the state of his game after the final round, he was pleased with his driving of the ball (which has been his biggest negative this year). The least effective part of his game was his putting. When Tiger was winning numerous events in the past 12 years, he was the best clutch putter in the game. Can he get his putter back on track? If he does, then he may be a factor at St. Andrews in the British Open…on a course that he dearly loves and has much success.
Of note, the fan reaction to Tiger at Aronimink was excellent. He was cheered and encouraged by large galleries despite not being in a position to win the event. It will be a different story in Scotland since the British tabloid press loves to make life miserable for everyone! Tiger’s indiscretions will be brought up for the entire week! Hopefully, he will stick to the golf course, his hotel room, and the practice range. Any foray out of those friendly confines will expose him to even more scrutiny.
Tiger is a man with enormous talent; and I suspect that he will regain much of his prominence in the next 12 months or so. But, each passing year will make his quest to break Nicklaus’ record 18 major championships much more in doubt. Tiger will be 35 years old this year….certainly he has 10 more years of productive golf ahead of him. But, he needs to get cracking.
Ordinary? No way! Can he reclaim his command over his game and his fellow competitors? We will get a glimpse in the last two major championships of 2010. If he can win one of them, then I think he is on his way back! And, even if he does not, it would be hard to bet against a man with that much physical talent and mental toughness!