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Thu Apr 24 14:38:32 SAST 2014

Is Tiger's scowl the giveaway?

TEAMtalk Media | 15 August, 2012 10:210 Comments
Tiger Woods reacts after hitting his second shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, August 12, 2012
Image by: Chris Keane / REUTERS

Did you notice the big difference between Rory McIIroy and Tiger Woods on Sunday - besides the fact that R-Mac nailed everything and Tiger didn't?

No Brownie points for getting the answer right.

The Northern Irish young gun never stopped smiling while the Tiger never stopped scowling.

Before he went out to clinch his second major in two years, McIlroy was advised by a wise old golfing owl to forget about his mini-slump this year and to go and enjoy himself, regardless of the outcome.

And he did just that - although you have to say that the sheer brilliance of the golf he produced, notably on the all important greens, made it a lot easier to smile with the kind if exuberance he showed.

Woods, on the other hand, spent most of his final round looking as if he was going to a funeral, which in a way, I suppose, is the way he saw things.

But that might be precisely why he has been unable to win any more majors since his last at the US Open in 2008.

Golf no longer seems to bring any joy to his life.

He hardly smiles and never seems to laugh, even when he is winning, as he has done on three separate occasions on the PGA Tour this year. More often than not, the key moments in those wins were accompanied by savage, almost vindictive roars of triumph as opposed to joyful emotions.

I don't claim to know Tiger, the man behind the unhappy mask that is so often presented these days, but I believe I can, to some extent, understand it and I do have some sympathy for him.

Think about his predicament.

With more than 70 victories to his credit, Tiger now trails only Sam Snead as the PGA Tour's biggest winner of all time and with 14 majors he is second only to Jack Nicklaus record 18.

Money? No Golfer and perhaps no more than one or two sportsmen in history have been able to earn the kind of money he has from prize funds and sponsorships.

He flies around in his own jet plane, owns a luxurious ocean-going yacht and a property in Florida that is almost big enough to be mistaken for a golf resort hotel and nobody is going to argue with you if you call him the 21st Century's greatest golfer.

You can't call him a man who has it all, of course. Some personal setbacks in his life outside of golf have cost him his wife and to some extent his two children.

Perhaps it is this loss - and the humiliation that went with it - that has robbed him of his smile. Perhaps not. It doesn't really matter right now.

What does is that he find a way to start enjoying what he is doing again. To shed that thick-lipped scowl that so often follows him around these days and to start smiling again - not in a cheesy way for the cameras and the fans, but with a smile that has real meaning.

I think Tiger expects too much too often. Worse still, I think, he expects the public and all those well-meaning, but boorish, "get-in-the-hole" loudmouths who follow him around, to expect too much of him.

It means he is always putting himself under the pressure of enormous aspirations and if anything, this has brought a frailty to his game that never existed in the early carefree days when he was still climbing to fame.

When he needed to make a critical shot in those days, whether with a long iron, a wedge or with his putter, he did exactly that.

No more and it could so easily be because his early passion and the sheer joy of having the talent to be able to accomplish more on a golf course than any other living soul has been replaced by the strain and dread of failure that expectation so often brings with it.

It's easier said than done, to be sure, but perhaps it's time he accepts the considerable accolades and rewards that have already come his way, forgets about setting records and opts instead to simply enjoy all the good things he still has left in his life.

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Is Tiger's scowl the giveaway?

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Thu Apr 24 14:38:32 SAST 2014 ::