Augusta National Golf Course, where the Masters is played, is a course that is engrained in any great golfer’s mind, and thus I can’t give Woods as many props as I might like to for his Top 5 performance there this year. But something that can, and should be appreciated by all followers of golf, is the international presence within the sport. That presence has always been there, considering golf was born in Scotland, but the international presence seems more vibrant than ever – part of me would like to say that Tiger Woods had something to do with that.
At 32-years-old, Tiger Woods is now of the age where little kids who once sought early autographs are now joining him on the course to say thank you, in all the wrong ways. Note to the kids: One of the true pleasures of playing amateur sports is when you do good (doesn’t even have to be something big) and little kids come up and ask for your autograph. And thus the moral for the kids is: Play sports. You may not become Kobe Bryant, Maya Moore, or Michelle Wie, but at least you’ll get a good opportunity to see what it’s like. You might even have to sign some autographs, which is good practice for whatever else you seek to do.
So when the media peanut gallery starts rousing the questions of whether Woods still carries his intimidating mystique on the course, I say, “yes,” and “no.” Yes, Woods intimidates his competition, and it has been hilarious listening to so many of the other pro golfers finally getting it off their chest that he did intimidate them. When Woods plays his best, few are able to match his strength and concentration. I think it’s important to note that Woods is much bigger in stature than your typical professional golfer, and nobody has ever brought as much lean well-trained muscular tissue to the professional golf scene either (at least when you’re talking about the great golfers). To continue on the physique note, it certainly seems as though the younger golfers are a much more fit group than the young tubba’lards that we watched bounce around the television golf screens in the 20th century. Part of me would like to say that Tiger Woods has something to do with that, too.
And thus, that leads to my reason why, no, Woods does not intimidate his competition. And that’s because his real competition these days is a group of little kids who grew up emulating him, and envisioning themselves beating him. The two years that Woods somewhat lost in controversy, was a bad two years for him to lose. Woods is no longer on the right side of age and enthusiasm when it comes to athletic competition, and that’s just what it is.
But golf is a sport that has extended playing life. The key with longevity in golf is the same as many other sports: stay mentally tough and physically fit (that’s another one for the kids). Tiger Woods, obviously, is still physically fit because he’s got one half a billion dollars to spend on staying physically fit (Hey, what happened to the other half? LOL!) So the problem that allows the peanut gallery to question Woods’ intimidation is in his head, where the peanut gallery unfortunately still has rented space.
Although Woods has waded through the whole stone-casting mess like a skilled politician, he needs to take that conservative strategy off of his golf game. It’s time for Tiger Woods to tell everyone, “Kiss my grits,” and repeat that statement every time he stands over the ball to hit it. That will give the ball that little extra zip that comes naturally when you’re young. When you get older you have to actually verbalize that statement, because the folks who know you’re still the best, will keep trying to apply kryptonite so the tiger doesn’t get back to roaring in their face.