After cruising the UK’s version of the Times online, I came across the secret to Tiger Woods’ success – confidence. Really? Could it be? It’s not his supermodel wife? The Tiger toy he totes on his driver? His firing of Fluff? His friendship with Michael Jordan? Well, maybe. Times writer Peter Dixon reviewed renowned sports shrink’s Bob Rotella’s latest book (one that sounds similar to his other gaggle of mind-tip texts) and explained that Tiger ticks with a certain arrogance that sets him up as a clutch performer. No kidding.
The question that I want an answer to is: how did Tiger DEVELOP his mental game? We know he is confident in himself, his caddy, his clubs, his life. One can see that on first strut, his focused face and straight shoulders barreling swiftly across the finest of fairways. But, when was that skill born? And what goes on in his mind during his clutch performances? Better yet, what happens when he is off? Surely, he doesn’t maintain positive thoughts 24/7. I’ve witnessed his vulgar barrages in front of fans, with the camera zoomed in on his mouth, F-bombs exploding like he just got off the phone with KG. The looks of frustration and aggression directed towards the idiot who yells “Get in the hole!” as Woods prepares to settle into his tee shot. The hammering of a club into the ground after a shank. Or the tossing of an iron as if he has no care for the fact that it will be handled as he bolts like a predator to the crappy lie.
My point is, it’s not always good, what he does during the outing. He beats himself up, if only for a few seconds - but he comes right back to smack the next shot, the next playing foe, the next course. And this is the resiliency, the confidence with which he (and Rotella) speaks and shouts - how he shines in the masterful moments. People talk of his work ethic, how he can’t put a club down – even in his living room – his drive to be the best who ever played with a constant angel - or devil - on his shoulder. And his crazed cerebral state that could be listed in the DSM when it comes to learning about the game and coming up with creative shots that may someday be of use.
The most impressive part of Tiger’s toughness has nothing to do with him internally, at least not anymore – there are instead external forces at work. Nobody consistently challenges him year to year, perhaps because they are so enthralled with his ways as we are. There exist turning points of No. 1’s in tennis, changing of the guards in team sports, and even scattered boxing champs. But Tiger has really been the best for more than a decade. As long as his confidence doesn’t take a detour (and I, like Rotella and Dixon, have a feeling it won’t), then we have another decade coming … and another book.