Here is a man who was the reigning undisputed world number 1, the top ranked player of his sport for a record 683 weeks, one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
Known to be a sure winner with a killer instinct, winning a total of 139 tournaments in a period of about 2 decades. Considered to be one of the greatest of all time and credited with changing the way Golf was seen across the world, single-handedly raising the popularity, viewership, sponsorship & prize-money of the sport.
He’s the man who has been named the most dominant athlete of the last 20 years by ESPN. This is despite not playing much the last 4 years and being well below his best the 6 years before that. So he has been voted based on the dominance of just 10 years. Goes to show just how dominant he was.
Yes, I’m talking about Tiger Woods! This man’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of his sport is stuff of legend.
However, the phrase, “The higher they rise, the harder they fall” seemed to have been made for him. He fell and he fell hard!
He was knocked off his pedestal when faced with scandals that exposed his marital infidelity, it shattered his image in front of his fans but more importantly it affected his confidence and Self-esteem.
It changed the self-assured, confident and often arrogant way he strutted and walked down the fairways. Where people once only spoke of his success and supreme skill on the golf course, today the world was sitting and passing judgement on how he conducted his life and identifying many of his other character flaws.
A large part of what made him successful and the most feared golfer was not only his game, but also, the persona that was ‘Tiger’ Woods!
In his own words, he says that what motivated him, was to Win and defeat people. Looking them in the eye and seeing who would break.
Now suddenly people saw him as fallible, human like everyone else, a man with weaknesses, a man who had broken and man who they could now hope to break.
With a destruction of this persona also came the downward spiral of his game, you could see he was no longer the same predator who had once won the Masters with a 12 stroke margin and won the US Open with an injured knee. He was no longer the “Tiger” who stalked the fairways, he no longer invoked fear in the hearts of all those who dared encroach his territory (the fairways). While he did come back and win a few tournaments he wasn’t at his best. He was unable to win a major and no longer invoked fear in all those who played around him.
If that wasn’t enough, he then went through multiple injuries and back surgeries between various attempts to get back into the game. 4 years of struggling with mediocre performances, failures to make the cut, back pain and withdrawing from tournaments due to his injury.
In his attempts to come back, people saw him as a broken man, both physically and mentally, whose career was now over. Many a pundit had questioned his ability to ever come back into the game, especially to be able to compete and be “Tiger” Wood
s again. While people still hoped that he would be back for the good of the game, not many believed that he would or more importantly ‘could’.
There were people talking about how Tiger could no longer get out of bed on his own and needed help walking, with all that pain and suffering it was impossible for anyone to come back.
After all, he was over 40 and had achieved mostly everything. What could motivate him strongly enough to face the many obstacles needed to return to his “True self” at the top echelons of the golfing world. Many felt it was IMPOSSIBLE!
Now this is where most people never understood what made “Tiger” the ultimate predator on the course. It wasn’t just his skill or his persona, it was the underlying person that he is:
A person who doesn’t know how to give up
A man who would hate to be known for giving up without a fight and not giving it everything he’s got
A man who wants to be in complete control of his life
A man who would want to exit on his own terms
A man who could never accept fading out of the memory of people, distraught & broken.
He needs to go out as a fighter, a WINNER!
A man, in whose dictionary the word impossible had been erased years ago as a child growing up.
Thus, after 4 back surgeries and the last one in April 2017 where he had the vertebrae fused he made another attempt to return to the top echelons of golf. On hearing of another attempt to return, people were once again hopeful. Everyone wanted to see the ultimate predator back in action, but as I said, not many believed.
While people talk about how he was nurtured by his parents to not think of others and lack much emotional understanding & sensitivity….it is an undoubted fact that he was either born with or nurtured with character traits that made him the most dominant golfer in history and the most dominant sportsman of the last 2 decades.
In my opinion the traits that have driven to success over the years and still do are:
Passion- is generally defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
His passion for the game is visible from the fact that despite achieving all there is in this game he still loves it and wants to play it better and for longer.
His desire to always get better and better at a game which he has dominated for about 20 years is seen through his numerous swing changes. While most golfers never change their swing drastically and many who did have lost their ability to compete, Tiger has gone through around 5 drastic swing changes.