From Tiger To Kitty-Kat (written July 2010)

Throughout every new wrinkle in the story that has been Tiger Wood’s year of embarrassment and subsequent fall from grace there was always one thing the American viewing public could count on.  The simple, unabashed fact that the man would still dominate his competition on the course almost as well as he can dominate his competition in the nearby Perkins restaurant or Miami nightclub.  That seemingly irrefutable statement has been bashed to the ground since Tiger made his glorious return to golf.  Perhaps he was worried that his all-world persona was shot to kingdom come in one fell swoop, or maybe, more-so, he was worried how the crowds would react to him when being introduced, or in some crazy idea of the human emotion, maybe we all witnessed something that was able to take his invincible belief in himself away and make him realize that he is human.  Bobby Jones said, “The game of golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears”.  His game might not be gone but that belief that was ripped from him is more important than you might think.

Running into a fire hydrant wouldn’t be the biggest news of the day, let alone the story of 2009, but that hydrant, which was built to put out flames, started a firestorm of cover-ups and lies that Woods was never able to recover from in the public eye.  For a man who lived his entire life in privacy, away from the prying eye of TMZ and Inside Edition, he was thrust onto the front page in the matter of minutes.  Rehab, divorce, and custody battles followed, but we can’t forget that this is the man who won the U.S. Open on one leg, who has won countless player of the year awards while playing a third of the tournaments than the rest of the field enters and winning three times more.  His bust would be on the Mount Rushmore of sports.  Were we wrong in assuming that he can overcome anything and continue his supremacy on the links?  Something such as infidelity couldn’t possibly bring this man to his knees, right?  Maybe he needed to ask Kobe for some lessons, or perhaps even Michael Jordan.

The crowds have been more than accommodating to a man who hasn’t shown much remorse for his despicable conduct off the course, but Wood’s has done nothing to prove to us that he still has “it”.  The white light that the fans besieged upon him is no longer present.  The silent roar that created so much fear in his competitors is now gone.  He is no longer the man alone at the mountaintop, he is no longer the man everyone wants to see win the big trophy; he isn’t even the man that everyone flocks to see.

In this day and age witnessing a sports icon fall from grace is passé.  A majority of them walk through the other side and go on performing the same way they had in the past and usually up to the standards that defined them.  However, none of them had as far to fall as Tiger Woods did.  Maybe he’s still in the free fall and will pick himself up, dust himself off, and go right back to winning in the future.  Even still, for now maybe the moniker should be kept in a vault.  When Eldrick regains his form and remembers how to control the thoughts in his head to win golf tournaments it can be returned to him.

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