Tiger cannot be the same player he was

Tiger Woods addresses Masters media

Tiger Woods addresses Masters media

This means two things – his golf is going to be a lot more interesting to watch…and he’ll never again be the elite player he was. It’s not possible.

I’m not saying he’ll never win another major championship (although it would not surprise me if he did not). I’m saying that he has been forced, by his own doing, to completely re-think the way he plays. And everyone who plays golf knows that once you start thinking…you’re dead.

Tiger re-built his swing, with Butch Harmon, several years ago – after he’d won The 1997 Masters by a record twelve strokes. But we’re not talking about re-building a swing here – although Woods’ Achilles-tendon injury revelation may require some of that as well.

We’re talking about changing how he conducts himself on and around the golf course. How he deals with the public. His tone and demeanour with the media. How he carries himself between swings during a round. Change those things, and you change the man. You change the machine. You change the winner.

Every successful professional athlete is different. Each succeeds in his or her own way. Jack Nicklaus always had an edge. Always. Magic Johnson was the exact opposite. Oh, he could get really serious on the court – but always seemed to immediately flash a smile off it. Pete Rose was the Tiger Woods of baseball. He was about as ornery a cuss as you would find – on and off the field. How else do you explain his eternal denials about betting on baseball. Hard as a rock. And, sadly, about as smart as one.

And that was Tiger Woods. Hard as a rock. But not anymore. Can’t be. It’s impossible to tell the entire world that you screwed up – in detail – and then throw a switch to become the larger-than-life figure he once was.

That Tiger is gone. That guy won 14 professional major championships. This guy won’t. It’s just not possible.

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