Muller: Is The Tiger We Used To Know Finished?
By Shawn Muller–
I am not much of a golfer, and to be honest with you, I find the game a bit boring for my taste.
At least without the “real” Tiger Woods, anyway.
Prior to a run of “sexscapades” that would make Hugh Hefner proud; Tiger Woods was easily the most dominant golfer I had ever seen in my lifetime. As boring as I found golf—and still do today—I must admit that I found myself watching the final round of major championships when Woods was within striking distance of the leader because I just knew that Tiger would find a way to win.
Not since Michael Jordan, had I seen a pro athlete evoke so much fear in his opposition. Woods knew—and the rest of the field knew—that he was going to win and there was nothing they could do about it. I never doubted that Tiger was going to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, it was just a matter of when and by how many.
Fast forward to 2011 and now I am not so sure.
Woods’ last major championship was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, California. I can still remember watching the eighteen hole playoff round, plus the first hole of sudden-death between Woods and Rocco Mediate. It was one of the greatest individual sports performances I had ever had the good fortune of witnessing.
There was Tiger, barely able to walk or stand due to a bad knee, and he still manages to beat Mediate on the first hole of sudden death. After the tournament, Woods would end up withdrawing from competition for the rest of the season to have surgery on that bum knee…but the legend that was Tiger Woods, had already be written in my eyes. I will never forget watching Mediate during the post-tournament press conference. He just sat there with a smile on his face and shaking his head, basically telling the media, “What did you expect? I just got beat by the best there ever was. On one leg!”
Mediate knew, and the rest of the golf world knew, that Tiger Woods was going to win more often than not heading into the final round of a tournament within ear-shot of the leaders. That’s just the way it was.
Today, after all of the sexual misdeeds, the divorce from wife Elin Nordegren, the stint in rehab for an apparent sex “addiction” (which I still think was a cowardly way of excusing himself from his actions), and the death of his father, Earl, Tiger has been a shell of his former self on the golf course. Everything Woods seemed to touch turned to gold before he was “found out”, but the golden boy of golf suddenly finds himself as one of the most hated men in all of sport.
So, can the former number one golfer in the world, who has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters, get back to the top?
Can the man who once terrorized the sport of kings regain his spot on the throne as the undisputed ruler of golf on this planet?
Tiger seems to think so.
When asked by Tom Rinaldi, which golfer was the best in the world, Woods replied, “When I get my swing dialed in?” Is this a flashback of the Tiger we once knew…that man with a cold stare and ice water running through his veins when the pressure is at its highest?
Or is this a man in denial?
Maybe Tiger is still the best golfer in the world…maybe he isn’t.
While I believe he can still break Jack’s record, he needs to get that old swagger back…that swagger he had prior to getting caught for his personal miscues.
He needs to be that Tiger Woods who refused to lose a major tournament even if he could barely walk.
Basically, Tiger Woods just needs to become…Tiger Woods.
I guess we will find out starting at the Masters next month.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.