Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deep in the Rough, Tiger Metes out his own Punishment

TIGER: Steve, what do we got?
STEVE (Tiger's Caddie): Well...it looks like you have a flyer lie and the ball's sitting down a bit.
TIGER: Nine?
STEVE: [throwing up a few blades of grass] Left-to-right cross wind...the pin is back right and you have 160 to clear the left-side bunker.
TIGER: I'm a bit pumped after that eagle [on the last hole].
STEVE: I'm thinking your 47 degree wedge will be the one...if you catch the flyer, you can use that crowned tier in the back middle of the green to spin your ball back towards the hole.
TIGER: Let's go with that, then.

Tiger woods is precise. And his caddie, Steve Williams, is his on-course PR guy, confidant, friend and bouncer (the Tiger Woods of crowd control guys).

Wherever Tiger goes on or off the course during a tournament, so goes 'Stevie.' This six-foot, four inch Kiwi is one of the best things that ever happened to Tiger.

But with Tiger stuck in eight-inch US Open rough - at Winged Foot no less - Stevie is not around to help Tiger extract himself from the dicey situation in which he finds himself.

Tiger Woods, the undisputed best golfer on the planet, has just snap-hooked his driver, er, [Escalade], hard to the left. What's most fascinating is that, like the impossible golf shots that he's made over the years, under the immense pressure of a major, Tiger is not in control of his next shot.

Always has a Game Plan

You see, even before Tiger became a Golf Pro in 1996 (Hello World!), he's always consulted with the best of the best. Jack Nicklaus and Arnorld Palmer have answered countless questions from Tiger regarding life outside of a 72-hole tournament. You see, Tiger wanted to know the secret to keeping focused with the media, dealing with travel, which tournaments to go to, which agents to deal with and which so-called business people to avoid.

When Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls, and fulfilled his need to coach an NBA team, Tiger consulted Michael on dealing with sponsors (Nike became Tiger's first big sponsor) and other esoteric life matters.

You see, Tiger was mapping out his game plan early on. Of course his father Earl was the most influential person in his life (teaching his young cub mental toughness, laser-like focus and how to handle adversity). After all, Tiger was nick-named in honor of a good buddy of Earl's from Vietnam - an Army Lieutenant. Tiger's given name was Eldrick. He officially and wisely changed his name to Tiger after turning pro.

However, regardless of the buzz created from the National Enquirer article, the fact that his wife Elin (pronounced E-lynn) went 'Judge Smails' on Tiger and allegedly smashed out the rear glass of his SUV, and the fact that it was about 2:30 am when he lost control of his vehicle just seconds from his driveway, makes little difference.

Tiger has always been a control freak. He is a control freak in a good sense; and that it allows him to navigate through his 24-7 life of public scrutiny. You see, Tiger may have gotten some bad advice from his agent, his newly retained lawyer or someone else when it came time to inform the authorities (and the very curious public) of the details regarding such a minor traffic accident.

But that was the club that Tiger chose.

Inconsistencies are Transparent

Let's look at some of the facts that have slowly trickled out:

1. Tiger's other four doors on his SUV looked to be perfectly suitable to open without the drama of smashing the rear glass with a golf club.
2. Apparently, there wasn't any blood found on the steering wheel or in the dashboard area.
3. My 12-year-old son would have difficulty exiting from the driver's seat over three rows of seats and out the back of the vehicle, let alone Elin pulling her 6' 1" 190 pound husband out.
4. Tiger said that he was unable to play in one of his favorite golf tournaments this week (Chevron World Challenge) because of his injuries from the accident. Really? Didn't Tiger play 90 holes during the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines with a damaged meniscus and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his Knee? Now he cannot play because of a fat lip and some soreness 6 days after a "minor" accident?

The reality is that one of the things that Tiger Woods will look back on during his eventual storied career will be the Tiger Woods Foundation that he created.

You see, he loves doing anything related to this life-long dream. Being the host of this tournament means big donations and lots of personal thank-you's. However, it means a lot more than that.

No, it will be a very long time before Tiger gets over the fact that he let himself down. His TWF won't suffer per se, but just the mere thought in this great athlete's mind that - well - It was his fault, will be enough punishment for anyone who has a controlling bone in his body.

Tiger will be forever incredulous about the situation that he finds himself in. He cannot merely take out his stock 3-wood and fire off one of his patented stingers down the middle.

You see, he has to find his way out of the US Open rough somehow, without Stevie, and by using his best club - his putter. But this shot does not call for the putter.

TIGER: Steve?
TIGER: Steve-o?
TIGER: Stevie? Steeeeevie?

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