In an interview that was conducted with Tiger Woods during his long absence from the game, he was asked who he thought was the best golfer in the world.
As his ranking was on the slide the – inference of the question was obvious, he was being asked to anoint his successor. Tiger looked perplexed, moving uncomfortably in his chair – somewhat perturbed by the audacity of the question. After pausing he answered in trade mark short sharp confidence, “when my swing is dialed in, I am”.
Having followed him on his final round of the Australian Open at the Lakes on Sunday, I am sure that he is right. I am also sure that he will win more majors, take back the number one ranking and probably even surpass Jack’s record of 18 major titles.
Tiger’s response, which he gave at the depths of his fall from grace says so much about the man and the reason why he currently holds 14 majors. He believes deeply in himself. Golf is played between the ears more than just about any other sport. Tiger dominated the game by dominating the mind. His troubles over the last few years have been both emotional and physical.
Obviously the break down of his marriage and his public persona has been a distraction but I do not believe that it has thwarted his confidence. Tiger would see his injuries and the changes they have necessitated in his swing as the major hurdle he has to overcome.
The support that he received from the galleries yesterday suggests that the golfing public is ready to forgive. Presidents, movie stars and other sportsmen have transgressed in the same way over the years and I think most people are willing to give him a second chance.
Golf is an amazing spectator sport for how close you are able to get to the stars. In other sports the masses are kept at bay by the huge ring fence of a stadium but out on the course you could literally touch them. Tiger has the swagger back. He walks with authority and purpose. His purpose is to be the greatest golfer of all time. For many years it looked like his destiny but it is now his challenge. Tiger walks like a man who is sure he is still, in golfing parlance, “the man”.
Tiger was pipped in the final round by the very focused and professional Greg Chalmers, who read the greens better than anyone over the tournament. Tiger’s drought continues but I doubt for too much longer.
You cannot forget that during this drought Tiger has had some very strong results including a fourth in this year’s Masters – the most prestigious of all tournaments.
Tiger’s main problem is his consistency off the tee. When he starts to find more fairways, the wins will come. He is close to regaining his form with the short-stick . Previously he did not miss from inside six feet – he is currently lipping out quite often but those putts will start to drop.
Tiger is only 35, which is relatively young for a golfer. His fellow professionals will see that the Tiger is slowly waking from his slumber and it is only a matter of time now before he will be feasting again.