The Curious Case of Tiger Woods

The Curious Case of Tiger Woods 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

If you aren’t a golf fan, that you probably didn’t pay any attention to the Open Championship over the weekend. It was a heck of a tourney to watch.

As I watched the coverage over the first couple days of the tournament, one of the things that stood out was how the announcers were talking about Tiger Woods.  Even though you may not be a golf fan, everyone knows Tiger. He is the most prolific golfer of our generation and one of the best of all times. At least, that’s who he used to be.

Tiger isn’t Tiger anymore. He doesn’t play great golf. There is no swagger. No one is intimidated by him.

And, the announcers were brutal as they talked about him.  Honest, but brutal.  I couldn’t help but wonder how Tiger must feel when he hears comments like “He’s completely lost his game” and “It’s really hard to watch” in reference to seeing him play golf, the thing he is famous for doing.

It’s not just on the golf course that Tiger seems to have changed. In the old days, Tiger was sort of a smug, standoffish A-hole.  He was decent with the media in interviews when we was playing well but not when he wasn’t. From what was reported, the other players didn’t like him much. But, then, everything changed for Tiger.  His secret playboy lifestyle of mistresses and jetsetting was dragged into the public eye.  And everything started to change.

Today, Tiger seems to be a more laid back, likable guy.  He’s loose and makes jokes in press conferences, even when he’s playing poor golf.  It even seems the other golfers like him better (although I suspect that’s because he’s not kicking their ass every week as much as anything).  But, his golf game is lost.

All of this made me wonder, who is the real Tiger?

I’m guessing that after the big scandal with the cheating on his wife and the divorce, his PR people told him that he needed to reshape his image.  He needed to become a nicer, more likable and approachable Tiger.  I’m sure that they told him that he needed to emerge from the chaos as a reformed, committed family man.  Granted, this is all speculation, but I can almost hear the voices in the meetings that must have happened.  After all, there are teams of people who’s livelihood depends upon the Tiger Woods brand.

And, by all accounts, Tiger took this advice.  And, his golf game seems to have suffered as a result.

I know this is probably not a popular thing to say, but I miss the old Tiger.  I miss the guy who hated losing so much you that he would erupt in a rage on the course when he was playing poorly.  I miss the smug, confident Tiger who other golfers disliked.

This all made me wonder if maybe part of the reason Tiger can’t play golf anymore is that he’s constructed and is living inside of an identity that just doesn’t fit. If he’s fighting his natural tendencies and who he really is all day long, he’s got to be profoundly uncomfortable and likely unhappy.

When I look at Tiger, it feels like watching a guy who’s lost his way, lost his sense of who he is.  He had a long run where he was the most dominant golfer we had ever seen play the game, and yet, over the past few years, he’s tried to rebuild his golf swing at least 3 different times.  Sorry, I’m not buying that it was the golf swing that was broken. But, that’s may be the only thing Tiger feels he has control over these days.

Maybe if Tiger would take some time to get clear on who he really is and then find the courage to be that person, openly and honestly, he could find his golf game again.  Selfishly, so many of us are pulling to see some of the old Tiger Woods, annihilating the golf course.  Not sure it will ever happen.

I think that same thing is true for all of us.  If we aren’t living a life aligned with who we really are and are comfortable in our own skin, it’s hard, if not difficult, to perform up to our potential.

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