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 RICHARD SIMMONS
 Editor
 Golf International

Tiger trapped in a snare of his own making

There is something perversely satisfying about watching Tiger Woods wrestle with his recalcitrant swing, a warming reassurance that, when all is said and done, the game of golf always wins in the end; that no matter how talented an individual you may be, ultimately the integrity of the discipline itself is always dormie up.

Yep, even on Tiger.

Every golfer who ever picked up a club can relate to the way the former world No.1 has found himself entertaining doubt, battling the ‘inner voices’ of dissent, the stream of niggling chatter you and I know only too well can only lead to the sabotage of a free-flowing technique: “It’s a work in progress, you know, we’re getting there...” chime the relentless sound-bites as one tight-lipped media obligation follows another. But the thing is, Tiger, you’ve already been there. So you really ought to know where there is; Sean Foley hasn’t. And (as talented a teacher as he is) maybe he doesn’t.

Leaving aside the attendant perils of over-coaching, Tiger’s problems, of course, lie chiefly between the ears. No amount of tinkering with the physical part of the equation can solder the damage visited upon the once all-powerful mainframe that is his fractured mind. As Sir Nick Faldo observes in a frank and sometimes brutal analysis within Planet Golf, the biggest problem facing Tiger as he bids to regain even a semblance of the game he once owned is that his clarity of focus and concentration has been shattered.

“The thing I see [in Tiger] now is that the 100% self belief is gone. It is flawed,” says Faldo, since 2007 the lead analyst for CBS television in America, with a reputation for straight talking. “Tiger is damaged in that respect. He does not have clarity of thinking and can no longer face up to the shots the way he did. Where once he would stare his shots down, almost willing the ball to its destination, now he hits shots you just can’t believe. He’s fallible. That aura is gone.”

Can he ever get back to his best? On the basis of what we have seen of late, you'd have to seriously doubt it. Gouging out thick divots with his irons and squirting the odd drive sideways does not bode well for anyone (least of all Foley), but in the greater scheme of things a fixation with Tiger’s on-going rehabilitation misses the fairway entirely: on every tour and at every level, professional golf has shifted up a gear in his absence, the irony of it all being that a 36-year-old Tiger Woods now finds himself in danger of being hoist by his own petard. Inspired by the brilliance of a man who more than any other player in the modern era changed the complexion of the game, the fearless vanguard of golf’s new generation will only raise that bar further – and quite possibly beyond even his reach.

Enjoy the issue.

November 2011

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 






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