Many underdog-lovers may root against Tiger Woods. They feed off of mere mortals breaking through and stealing a first place finish in a championship match. In fact, there were many players this past week on the PGA Tour who claimed they would take Tiger down. I, however, love watching Woods win every tournament. There are so many details within his game that are appealing to the mental aspects of performance.
His confidence - he was asked the other day, “Nicklaus or you?”
His answer was, “Me.”
His demeanor – calm with an air of intensity and focus. It’s almost as if he forces opponents into extra strokes with his posture, his expressions, and his faith in himself.
His approach with the media – he is honest, he looks interviewers in the eyes, and he takes the time to talk.
His practice – I’ve heard he cannot sit still and he has an obvious drive to be the best. And he follows through on his dreams. According to his long-time coach Butch Harmon, “He is the best student I’ve ever had. He is like a sponge. He soaks up information and he always wants to learn and get better.” And he can practice when he is on vacation!
He is a winner, both physically and mentally, because of his work ethic – he often speaks of “grinding” in golf, the role mental energy plays to concentrate consistently in high pressure situations.
A radio host recently said that he is the golf version of the Yankees or Notre Dame football or Duke basketball. I believe he is better. He wins more (he plays in more championships due to the structure of the Tour, but even his number of top finishes is extraordinary considering the number of opponents in the field!). He often finds himself in the money, figuratively and realistically (nearly one million for coming in second in this past Masters, though to him, “Second sucks”). If it weren’t for a couple of millimeters of miscues on putts, he would have his 17th major and fifth Masters now.
So much pressure. So much preparation. Being able to observe such dominance in one domain is pure pleasure, and a phenomenon I would like to behold and examine again and again.
And it looks like he will win the poll for the most mentally tough...