From the outside looking in, it appeared that Eldrick “Tiger” Woods had it all. Number 1 in his chosen profession, more money than sense, a model wife and two beautiful children. However, on November 27th 2009 the mother of all scandals brought an end to Tiger’s perfect facade.
He was found to be having a string of extra-marital affairs, some with prostitutes, which culminated in Woods crashing his car into a telegraph pole and exposing his dark side to the world. I was shocked, proper shocked, Wimbledon winning the FA cup shocked.
To the general public, Woods appeared to be cleaner than clean. A golfing juggernaut, who changed the game forever and raised its profile to a level where even mediocre players, the Todd Hamilton’s and Ben Curtis’ of the world had the potential to earn millions. Persistent back injuries and problems between the ears, have meant that he now faces the prospect of early retirement from the sport he loves, so what will Tiger do next?
In my opinion he needs to start making friends. Last month he was found slumped at the wheel of his car, after a cocktail of prescription drugs left him unable to walk in a straight line. When I watched the video, Tiger stumbling about, failing various sobriety tests, I immediately felt sorry for him. Then I thought, hang on, hasn’t he got any pals to give him a lift home?
But In his quest for greatness, Tiger has never really got along with others. In the 1995 Walker Cup, after enduring a miserable time in South Wales, he left early without joining his teammates for the final players dinner. Early evidence of Tiger’s self-interested personality.
Since then, Tiger has played in 6 Ryder cups and, to be fair, has a pretty impressive record, winning 14 points and only losing 1 out of his 6 single matches. However, it’s generally considered Woods’ struggled to fit in with the team environment and didn’t enamour himself with his teammates. Maybe he couldn’t wait to leave and find the nearest brothel.
Now is the time for Tiger to change his ways. It’s a strange concept, making friends as an adult. As a child, you bond with peers over a shared love of Care Bears or He-man but the older you get the harder this becomes, you find people are starting to edge towards Skeletor.
Once in a while, you find a work colleague you really hit it off with. Tiger seemed to have a brilliant relationship with his caddie, Stevie Williams, who at one time was the highest paid “sportsman” in New Zealand. But the relationship turned sour when the two parted company. Williams using racial slurs to attack his former boss.
In a world where the average worker in the UK is being asked to work later in life, Tiger faces retirement at the age of 41. His body and mind failing him in his pursuit of the younger generation he paved the way for.
Most sports stars retire early, footballers, cricketers, rugby players all have a shelf life of under 40, and many of them struggle with life after professional sport. Not golfers. Professionals go from the main PGA Tour to the Senior Tour and play competitively for years.
Some players thrive on the old man’s tour, Colin Montgomerie aka Mrs Doubtfire, never won a major championship, but already has 3 on the Senior Tour and he’s only 54. My wife’s grandparents are still playing at 85 but sadly, not even a PGA Championship between them.
Woods is facing many years in retirement away from playing, but hopefully he can find a productive way to spend his time and give back to the world. It won’t be easy for Woods, as golfers are a notoriously selfish bunch. The single minded nature of the sport means spending hours alone playing, practising and perfecting their game.
The good news is Tiger has recently showed signs of building bridges. He was a vice captain at last year’s Ryder Cup and last week’s Presidents cup, both of which Team USA won. Whilst vice-captaining last week, he was filmed hugging long-time rival Phil Mickleson, who he has shared a tempestuous relationship with in the past. It’s a good start, keep it up Tiger.
Woods the golfer was, in my opinion, the greatest of all time, at his peak a global phenomenon, who made golf cool again. It saddens me that the younger generation will never truly understand how great Tiger was, the same way my dad felt about me and Jack Nicklaus.
Tiger Woods the man, needs a bit of work, but with his new found appetite for making friends, Woods can surely make Tiger cool again.
Agree or disagree – comment or get in touch @jacklenniesport