Check Your Head

“And do you, Eldrick (Tiger) Woods, take this woman, Elin Nordegren, to be your lawfully-wedded bride?”
“I do,” answered Woods.
Then he smiled, did the whole placing of the ring thing, kissed his beautiful Swedish bride, walked down the aisle, and with that forever changed the game of golf.
So that’s all folks; put a fork in him because he’s done. The Tiger Woods we once knew is gone, vanished, checked out, on leave, pink-slipped, vamoosed, on waivers, eliminated.
The Tiger, who struck fear in the hearts of his opponents—obsolete. The Tiger, whose name already was inscribed on trophies before he even competed—evaporated.
The Tiger, who ate par-fives at Augusta for breakfast and asked for seconds—deceased.
In other words, Tiger has turned into Tigger.
For better or for worse, once that ring was put on his finger, his golf game subsequently changed with it—and for the worse.
With Tiger, golf moved forward, but with Tiger and Elin, golf will steer backwards. Television ratings are halved, tournament directors weep when he doesn’t show up, and Nike’s entire golf line depends on his playing well.
Golf fans have had the worst case of the Tigers, and the game now needs to get into a 12-step “de-Tiger” clinic because we aren’t going to see the Tiger of old.
And who can we thank for this? Who can we thank for what is the beginning of the end for golf?
Fellow golfer, Jesper Parnevik.
Woods met his 24-year-old bride about three years ago when she was the nanny for Parnevik’s children. A year later, they started dating. Two years later they married.
But one must smell conspiracy?
Just follow the bouncing ball: Parnevik and everyone on the planet are losing to Tiger. Parnevik decides to take matters into his own hands and hires Elin as nanny, knowing that she would eventually meet Tiger.
Parnevik is Swedish. Elin is Swedish.
Tiger meets Elin. Tiger falls madly in love. Tiger loses focus on golf game. Parnevik and other golfers start winning while Tiger shops for baby carriages.
Simple coincidence, or carefully-orchestrated Macbeth-like planning to dethrone the king?
But if you don’t believe me, just look at what he accomplished before he started dating—Before Elin (B.E)—and what he’s done since then—After Elin (A.E).
B.E.—won eight majors (three Masters, two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, and one British Open). In fact, in the early part of 2002, Tiger held all four major championships at the same time, which is affectionately called the “Tiger Slam.”
A.E.—still waiting on a major, which is what Tigger (cough, I mean Tiger), is most focused on.
I know it may sound harsh, but let’s face it, the man has collapsed. It’s a case of calling it as anyone can see it. Look, I didn’t create the ridiculous body of work to which his game is being compared. He did.
If you don’t agree, ask yourself this: If I had offered you Tiger versus the field at Augusta three years ago, would you have taken Tiger? Of course you would have. But would you have made the same decision this season?
That’s what I thought.
With Tiger, all we have to compare him to is his own past. Is Tiger better than Vijay Singh or Ernie Els? That’s beside the point. He is Tiger Woods. Of course he’s better than those guys.
But he’s not much better, not right now.
It’s as simple as this: Tiger Woods is the Michael Jordan of golf. He is the MAN, and no one questions that. The trouble is that right now, Tiger is more like Michael as a Wizard than Michael as a Bull.
You still see flashes, but it clearly isn’t the same.
And what is the difference from Tiger today to Tiger from three years ago? Check his ring finger.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing he got married, I actually think it’s great. It shows he’s human after all and has other things on his mind. But that’s exactly what’s wrong with his golf game right now—he has other things on his mind.
I can just picture the Woods’ residence in a few months:
“I don’t see how you can even think of playing golf when the lawn is in such dire need of work.”
“My mother is coming for lunch, any chance you just play nine today?”
“You’re not really going to wear that green jacket with those pants, are you?”
So, in sense, Elin is to golf what Yoko Ono was to the Beatles.
He was the kind of player who not only would beat a course, he would make its designers fall to the ground crying in agony. He owned golf. He was the puppet master.
“Tiger’s playing? I guess we’re playing for second here, boys.”
Now it’s more like: “Tiger’s playing? Bring it on.”
But you know what? You’ve got to feel happy for the guy. He’s worked so hard for too long, and it’s good to see that Superman once in a while can turn into Clark Kent.
Golf wasn’t just a game for Tiger, golf was the all-consuming entity in his life. He would practice for hours upon hours while everyone was at home relaxing or playing daddy.
He’s paid his dues to golf, and it’s time for him to take a little bit of his life back.
“Do I think I could have been a better player if I had pushed everything else aside and focused on it? Yeah, probably,” Jack Nicklaus said on his website, who got married at age 20, had three kids by Woods’ age (28), and still managed to win 18 majors.
“But do I think I would have missed something in life? Probably so. I’m far more happy with my five kids and 16 grandkids than worrying about a golf tournament.
“Golf wasn’t the only thing in my life,” added Nicklaus, “and I don’t think it will be the only thing in Tiger’s life, either.”
And you should never argue with a bear—especially one that’s golden.
Comments? Suggestions? E-mail me at emoutsatsos@fortfrances.com

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