Tiger has to get back on his horse

TigerOh man. That is very bad news that Tiger Woods has suddenly put the brakes on the great big audacious comeback. The timing is brutal and indicates that all is not well in Tiger’s head and it’s highly likely he’s still got some kind of yips.

After confirming Friday that he would return from his year-long absence from the PGA Tour in this week’s Safeway Open, Tiger abruptly announced his withdrawal Monday.

What’s up? Hard to say, but he may be afraid of hacking and yipping and looking foolish with the intense attention that will be focused on him. The reports from buddies—which have turned out to be untrustworthy–said he was swinging well and his back was fine.

Every competitive golfer goes through a similar excruciating test at some stage, whether you’re a novice tournament player or a veteran struggling with your game–your game sucks and you’re confidence is fragile, and you’re entered in a tournament. Or a bunch of them.

Swing Thoughts co-host Howard Glassman went through it back in June. (Hell, if he can come back from golf hell, so can Tiger.)

But if you are going to compete in golf—and take your game to the next level—you must put yourself through it knowing that you could shoot a million and the score will be posted on a scoreboard and even seen online. And if you are Tiger, you must even though your every foible and nervous twitch will be broadcast and pounced upon with merciless glee by the hounds of social media hell.

In the avalanche of comments that followed his Monday WD, Johnny Miller has a great message for Tiger and all competitive golfers who quake at the idea of tournament golf where you must hole every putt, count every stroke and post a score.

“My gut is that he wanted to come, but the hoopla, even on the Golf Channel the last couple days, he must be looking at that thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh. What am I getting into?” Miller told Tim Rosaforte of Golf Digest.

“I’d like to be home, taking my kids to school, running my restaurant, nothing like having to posting a score.’

“He’s got to suck up the pressure of it all, the tension, and go back in there and mix it up. It’s hard to do, because once you get away from the tour, life can be so sweet when you’re not so judgmental,” said Miller, who suffered from putting yips late in his career.

“The hardest thing about golf is the score. The greatest thing about golf is the score. If you post the scores you win. It’s the greatness of golf.”

Despite the pain of embarrassment and the risk, Tiger will have to peg it in the ground eventually and be OK with whatever happens. It could be ugly.

Well, so what? Let the jackals howl. Tiger’s score or a yipped chip doesn’t define who he is. A golf score doesn’t define anyone, not even a professional. You are who you are regardless of score. And no score or “fail” video changes that.

In everything we do, we must be good with who we are, and be kind and compassionate to ourselves. It doesn’t matter what others think or say. We can’t control them anyway. Only ourselves.

Whenever Tiger tees it up, it will be just one more experience to learn from. As coach Fred Shoemaker of Extraordinary Golf has said: “Your performance tomorrow does not depend on your performance today. Your performance tomorrow depends on your learning today.”

I hope that Tiger gets back on his horse and rides soon. For his sake and ours. The longer he waits, the harder it will be to come back. I don’t think golf is ready for him to hang up the reins just yet.



About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!