An off-angle drive puts Tiger in the woods on the 11th. Then comes the most incredible play of the tournament: Tiger Woods thonks one off of a pine tree. Guys everywhere spew Bud Light onto their remotes. I know that sound, they say.
Two holes later, Tiger shanks his tee shot, grits his teeth, and barks, “Jesus Christ!” The camera pulls hurriedly away to cover Lee Westwood's drive from the 12th.
On the 14th, Tiger slams the ball onto the green in two, but misses a short putt and, incredibly, blows a gimme for yet another bogey, his fifth of the day.
Tiger comes in at 11 under, tied for fourth, a pretty amazing finish for somebody who’s been off the tour for almost five months. But listen to Tiger at the scoring booth: “I entered this event. I only enter events to win.”
What once seemed like admirable single-mindedness now comes across more like a man who sees life through blinders. There’s only one thing he wants; if he doesn’t get it, then what’s the reason for being there?
More than anything else, Tiger has always been lauded for his remarkable focus. In a sport where top contenders can be mistaken for chubby car salesmen, Tiger has been a standout from the time he first showed up on the tour. His workout regimen is legendary. His discipline, when it comes to his sport, is unmatched. He strides purposefully across the fairway, looks toward the pin like a sniper marking his target, sets up, then swings like the Olympic-level athlete he is.
In the sports world, he had it all. Income from endorsements long ago surpassed his hefty tour winnings. He's been called the most famous athlete of all time.
But having it all still isn't enough, apparently.
That's why when Phil Mickelson trudged his way toward victory in Sunday's final round of the Masters, the contrast was lost on no one. He pushed past the microphones to envelop his wife, a recent breast cancer survivor, in a lingering embrace, their three kids trying to squeeze their way in.
A few minutes before, Tiger had stood alone at the mic to give a terse assessment of his own play. He seemed stoic. Or was that, instead, hollowness? Was this a person who's managing his emotions, or someone who's practically devoid of them?
A while back when a friend and I were discussing a local pastor who had committed adultery, I remember the indignation I felt. I had actually let my kid go to a youth function led by the fellow, and I was ticked off.
My friend had a different reaction, which left me ashamed of my own. “He must have really felt empty to have done that,” he said.