I recently learned two things about Tiger Woods. First, he is cheesy. This is why he and Lindsey Vonn, skier and two-time Olympic medalist, took to Facebook to announce that they’re dating. The two posted pictures of themselves that were so oddly staged, they looked like they were taken in a Sears studio. The only thing missing was a laser-filled backdrop and a comment about Sears’ exceptional selection of washing machines.
The second thing I learned about Woods is that he needs Vonn. Woods, perhaps the greatest golfer ever, needs to be loved in order to succeed.
In late 2009, Woods was in a car crash which may or may not have involved his then-wife Elin Nordegren grabbing a club and purposely mistaking Woods’ head for a Titleist. Later it was revealed that Woods had cheated on Nordegren in spectacular fashion. Before these incidents, things were great for Woods—at least on the surface. He was adored by the public and won nine tournaments in 2009. The former part was especially important for Woods, because it allowed the latter to happen.
Rion Summers, the PGA Director of Golf at Meadowcreek Golf Course, has been a PGA member since 1993. He told me that for pros like Woods, the mental hurdles of golf are the toughest to climb. “It all boils down to being able to focus and execute each shot,” explained Summers. “The psychology behind handling emotions, distractions, bad shots, etc., are the challenges of the game that [either] allure you or drive you crazy. Visualizing and executing while being able to sense all of the elements and factors that affect each shot generally requires one to be relaxed and focused.”
Woods and Nordegren divorced in 2010. During that year and the next, Woods was a punchline. He was no longer beloved. He was viewed as a selfish liar at best and a sociopath at worst. As his personal life crumbled, so did his work. Woods didn’t win a single tourney in 2010 and only won two in 2011.
Although Woods and Vonn just admitted that they’re dating, it must have been going on for some time. And if you think Woods wouldn’t be able to hide that from the press, remember, this guy slept with about 473 women (not all at once…I don’t think) and no one knew a thing. Since Vonn filed for divorce from her husband in late 2011, let’s speculate that Woods and Vonn started casually dating in early 2012. How did Woods do that year? Four wins and 15 top five finishes. This year (not counting this past weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational) Woods has already won two out of the five tournaments he has played. *
This isn’t a coincidence. Woods is back because the public and Vonn are embracing him. This might seem obvious, but it’s surprising that someone as dominant as Woods requires so much validation. For Woods, a hug and a hole in one are forever intertwined.
* - Yeah, Woods won. He has now grabbed wins in three out of the six tournaments he has played this year and is once again the number one ranked golfer.
Three Golf Tips from a Guy Who Has Only Played Once:
1) No one looks good in pleated khakis.
2) The key to quality putting is nudging your ball closer to the hole when no one is looking.
3) More beer, not less.