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his injuries, but also from the intensity with
which he has competed on the big stage
since his mid-teens – that some say aged
him as a golfer beyond his years.
HOW WILL A NEW PUBLIC
HUMILIATION HURT TIGER?
Woods, who over the past eight years has
stoically weathered the aftermath of perhaps
the fastest and most precipitous fall from
grace ever in public life, will have to handle
another similar hit. His children are now
old enough to comprehend what the world
is saying about their father. He has surely
further damaged his ability as an endorser
– one whose once-yearly $100 million-plus off-
course earnings has dropped to about $US35
million. Can he keep from losing whatever
is left of the confidence and sense of destiny
that marked his attitude in his prime?
Then again, Woods might be inured to
such feelings after having survived 2009.
It’s also possible that his charge will be
reduced, public judgment will cool and the
arrest will fade from view.
Indeed, the inverse of the reaction in
2009 – a widespread public aversion to
piling on someone who has been through
enough – could help Woods ride out
the storm. Whatever he feels inside, or
as cruel as social media can be, he has
been supported by demonstrations of
encouragement and sympathy from his
galleries. He acknowledged as much after
his latest surgery, saying, “I also want to
thank the fans for your phenomenal support.
It means more than you know.”
All through his dark period, Woods has
learned that when he is able to show even
a glimmer of his former talent, the sports
world is captivated, and public sins or
embarrassments are largely forgotten.
DOES HE HAVE A REAL SUPPORT
SYSTEM AMONG OTHER PLAYERS?
Much has been made in the past year of a
new Tiger, more engaged socially. In his
role as assistant captain at the Ryder Cup,
he was praised for his generosity with
knowledge. He is also on social media. But
in more private conversations with several
of his peers, some of whom Woods has called
friends, what emerges is the isolated figure
who is rarely seen – whether at Medallist
Golf Club or his restaurant, The Woods
Jupiter – and who shares little and trusts less.
A particular Woods quirk is to text a player
who is in contention to offer encouragement
and good luck, followed by a few exchanges.
And then ... nothing.
Older players who have known him for
years and feel a golf kinship confess that they
have rarely if ever socialised with Woods off
the course. Young players – some of whom
say he was their inspiration growing up – and
A glimpse of the river
is possible on the 12th
hole at Corowa.
hen Tiger Woods won the
2007 US PGA Championship
at Southern Hills, it was his
13th professional Major-
championship victory and his fifth in his
12 most recent Grand Slam events. Those
dozen Majors also included a runner-up
finish, two T-2s, a T-3 and a T-4. Yeah, Tiger
In Golf Digest’s January 2008 issue,
we attempted to predict when Woods
might surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18
professional Major titles. Our reasoning at
2008 Tiger had finished T-3 and T-2 at
the previous two Masters, so we figured he
would win the nex t one, for his fifth green
jacket, and that year’s US Open at Torrey
Pines, where he had been dominant. That
would have run his total to 15.
2009 We didn’t predict Tiger would repeat his 2002 US Open win at Bethpage
– we were picking him at Torrey in 2008 and at Pebble Beach in 2010, and no one has
ever won three consecutive US Opens – but we gave him the US PGA at Hazeltine,
where he had been the runner-up in 2002. Our count went to 16.
2010 There’s no such thing as a lock in golf, but we were bullish on Tiger
winning that year’s US Open at Pebble, where he had lapped the field by 15 shots in
2000, and the British Open at St Andrews, where he had won by eight in 2000 and by
five in 2005. That would have tied Jack’s record of 18.
2011 What a perfect place Augusta National would have been to break
Nicklaus’ record, when Tiger was 35. (Jack won six of his Majors after he’d turned
35.) By our accounting, Tiger would have matched Jack’s six green jackets, five
PGAs and four US Opens, one-upping him with four British Opens: 19 in total. And
who knows how many Tiger might have won after that?
As we said then, the argument against getting to 19 that quickly: our predictions
would have given Tiger six victories in his next 13 Majors (or seven of 14, counting his
2007 PGA). The counter-argument: He won seven of 11 Majors from 1999-2002. How
it worked out: Tiger won the 2008 US Open [above] but hasn’t come closer in a Major
than his runner-up in the 2009 PGA. What we didn’t take into account: stuff happens.
Our prediction on tiger
surpassing jack’s record didn’t
quite work out by mike o’ malley
who relish the rare opportunities to still play
with him, don’t feel close to him like they do
an older player like Phil Mickelson, who has
been a much more gregarious mentor.
What’s left to other players is now a
mostly sad glimpse of an icon who, beyond
impersonal jock banter, prefers distance.
“He’s a classic introvert, but one thrust
into media stardom and the spotlight from
early on and was the face of golf,” says Ryan
Moore. “Being an introvert myself, that’s not
easy to handle.”
At this point, nothing figures to come
easy to Woods. He has just made his already
difficult life harder. Perhaps a dedicated return
to golf, which went from his haven to his
burden, can offer a home base for a fresh start.
Of course, even as a golfer, he has far more
than ever to do and far less time to do it. As
Woods prepares to turn 42 in December, an
old saying applies: hope is a good breakfast,
but it’s a bad supper.
Additional reporting by brian wacker
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2/08/2017 1:34 pm
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