Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Expanded Look at Tiger's Temper

If you didn't get a chance to check out my Winners-Losers column at FanHouse on Monday, I'll give you a quick dabble into what I said about Tiger Woods -- "It really took me a couple of re-watches of Tiger's second round to fully grasp what the commenters around these parts had pointed out -- Woods looked like a baby this week at Turnberry. You never hear me bash Tiger because, frankly, he is the best in the world at what he does, but his conduct at Turnberry was pretty self-involved."

Now, a day later, I wanted to expand a little on my take. First, and what I find the most important, is Tiger is as frustrated as he may have ever been with his golf swing. Sure, at times (see AT&T National) the things have clicked and everything is peaches and cream, but for the most part, the 2009 season has seemed like one big club slam from Woods. All of that escalated to the British Open, where Woods missed his first real cut in a major in his professional career (not counting the postmortem U.S. Open at Winged Foot).

I'm not a holier than thou writer and I've never said I was. I get pissed on the golf course. I used to break golf clubs and act like an ass and yell at myself and pout around the course like a 4-year-old. At times these days, I still get frustrated (I'm pretty sure an f-bomb or two spewed out yesterday when I made triple-bogey on an easy par-3). Yes, getting mad is part of golf. For me, it is almost more of my attempt to prove to other people that I'm not happy with a certain golf shot, in hopes that for some sophomoric reason, they know I'm better than that shot. For Tiger, it seems like pure frustration. Whatever it is, it needs to stop.

Unlike myself, Tiger has billions of people that follow his every move, including a lot of kiddos that would love to be the next Tiger. While Woods isn't exactly the one showing them the proper way to helicopter a wedge down the fairway, he is acting like, for lack of a better term, a baby on the course. What is crazy about the whole thing, is Tiger is Mr. Proper when he isn't struggling with his sticks. Commenters all week on my British Open posts were complaining about his etiquette, and I finally took my of blinders to see exactly what was obvious -- Tiger needs to shape up.

People get frustrated with this game, and when Tiger, the best in the world, isn't as solid as he wants, it has to be frustrating. The problem with it is, he gives off a terrible example to anyone that isn't a freak golf fan and makes people disgusted at his actions. We live in a society where anything can trigger people's distaste, and for a guy as clean-cut as Woods, getting pissed on the course might end up being his downfall. Rumors are swirling that Tiger is about to cut ties with Hank Haney, and maybe that's the answer, but for now, he needs to just calm his emotions on the course.

A few years back, Tiger realized that his excitement over certain shots (the 3:11 mark in this video, for instance) actually was bad for him, because his heart rate would get too high and he'd usually struggle to calm himself before his next tee shot. I feel like this theory has to work on the other end of the spectrum. If Tiger is slamming clubs and hitting his bag and being frustrated, it can't be good for him on his next shot.

All in all, I just wish Tiger could find a way to settle his negative emotions. It would make him look a lot better and I feel it would improve his game. That's all for now ... I have to get get my broken 3-wood fixed.



Charles Boyer said...

I love playing a Nassau or match play game against someone who acts as Tiger did last week. That's for exactly the reason that you said: it's really difficult to make the next shot a good one. That guy, like Tiger, is full of adrenaline, lots of androgenic hormones and body tension...the enemies of fine muscle control and therefore solid golf.

They've beaten themselves by the end of the day, and IMO, that's what Tiger did on the back nine last Friday. Frankly, I was shocked at his loss of self-control.

Todd said...

Even though I'm a Tiger fan, I agree with you in general. I usually cringe when he hits a bad shot and hope they don't have a microphone nearby to pick up his reaction. I'm sure those with children cringe even more.

That being said, even Tom Watson said in the news conference immediately following the British that he admired Tiger for the way he handles constant pressure and attention on him in every golf tournament. I've also heard Johnny Miller on several occasions praise Tiger for how he handles the pressure.

So, I tend to agree, but that's not to say any other golfer wouldn't handle the pressure worse in his situation. When every single shot he hits is likely to be covered on TV, they are bound to pick up an occasional negative reaction. But yeah, in the end, I wish he would tone it down a little.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Tiger's antics on the course are bad for all the reasons you mentioned. If another player behaved the way Tiger did, he'd probably get ripped to shreds. Part of being a great champion (in my book, at least), is acting like one whether things are going well or not so hot.

Todd said...

Do you not think there a lot of players behaving the same way or worse when they're struggling to make the cut? Tiger was not the first to bring a hot temper to the tour, his is merely magnified b/c attention is always on him.

Patricia Hannigan said...

I'm certain Tiger will have all sorts of mental coaches and methodologies put into place after what happened at the Open Championship, because he certainly knows the "next shot" cause and effect as well as anyone.

That said, I wasn't bothered by Tiger's behavior. I actually...um liked it. I think it showed his passion and his human side. And I would argue that for the casual golf fan it would be far more compelling to watch Tiger behaving the way he did at Turnberry then to watch a robotic, emotionless Tiger.

The thing about the kids is what really gets me though. When are we as a society going to stop expecting athletes, entertainers and pop-culture B-listers to be role models for our kids? Parents...if they care to fully engage with their own children will use the Tiger thing as a learning opportunity to encourage they kind of behavior they themselves value. But that takes real work and it seems to me that many, when it comes to their own children, don't particularly want to be bothered.

OK - Stepping off the soap box for now. Bye. :o)

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