Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Different Kind of Golfer

Tiger Woods won the US Open this past weekend and in the process, his legend grew. He had to make some great putts to force an 18-hole playoff, then birdied the 18th hole of the playoff to force a 19th playoff hole. Unlike his majors at which he has destroyed the field or when opponents have simply collapsed, Rocco Mediate hung with Tiger and turned this tournament into something really special. Throughout the tournament, Tiger winced in pain after many of his drives. He had knee surgery shortly after the Masters, so it was not surprising that he had some discomfort.

Before the announcement yesterday that Tiger would have season-ending surgery to repair his destroyed ACL and have to do rehab on his two stress fractures, Retief Goosen said several things implying that he didn't believe the injuries were serious including:
It just seemed that when he hit a bad shot his knee was in pain and on his good shots he wasn’t in pain.... I believe if he was really injured, he would not have played.
First of all, I saw many, many of Tiger's tee shots that were long and straight after which he buckled in pain or winced. Other times, he had no painful reaction when he chunked a shot into a bunker. There was no relationship between the quality of his shots and his pained reactions.

Second, Tiger is a different type of golfer. Retief would not have played if he had two stress fractures and a destroyed ACL. Tiger would. Retief can no more understand the different way of approaching his sport (and majors in particular) than he can compete with Tiger.

I hope Tiger is able to come back from these injuries. He's a great athlete who wins with his work ethic and his mental strength as much as he does it with his natural physical talent. He's not a thug or a jerk. He has a foundation that tries to do good. Watching him has been really fun, so I hope he returns next year.

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