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Tiger 2.0

by Donte Nystrom

Tiger is back, once again, to try and heal the wounds he has suffered mentally, emotionally and physically for the last seven years. He’s been through rehab, had another back surgery and even a girlfriend. It seems as if it’s the same comeback that he has tried the last three or four “comebacks” he’s had before. It seems that way . . .

. . . until you see how he’s behaved this week and how his responses and mannerisms have contoured an almost virtual reality prototype of a new Tiger Woods. An archetype that has yet to be seen before and, quite frankly, it’s awesome.

I remember watching Tiger as a young lad and seeing the way he could intimidate and dominate a field just by simply glancing in the direction of his competition. I remember his Memorial win in 2012, the all mighty roar given by the onlookers of a magnificent hole-out, and the infamous Tiger fist pump while giving a roar of his own. It was amazing and a moment I’ll never forget.

But, unfortunately, I’m too young to remember the “Better than most!” shot at Sawgrass for The Players in 2000, the shot in the dark at the NEC Invitational in the same year, or even his first career hole-in-one that just so coincidentally happened in his first ever tournament as a pro.

However, looking back at his previous media conferences, interviews, and even the way he held himself on the course, something is different this time around. He doesn’t give a glaring stare deep into your mind and soul that tries to tear you apart. He doesn’t walk around completely focused. He doesn’t just talk about golf or make measured remarks. That was the Tiger we’re all used to seeing.

This time it’s different.

This week Tiger seems to be a changed man in all three aspects of what has kept him longing for more and leaving fans bewildered at chaotic concoctions of confusion because of poor play or nagging injuries that pulled him out of tournament after tournament. It seemed to be a time where each shot didn’t have the old effect of knowing each one would be perfect. It felt as though you really never knew how he was going to miss this time, or wondering how he could injure himself now.

This week has seen a completely different, yet just as confident, Tiger Woods than seen in the past. It’s probably the white sandy beach of the Bahamas and the fact that he’s only playing with 17 other competitors, but, nonetheless, he’s different and in a good way.

He seems happier, relaxed and open. Much different from the measured, timid and seemingly mysterious golfer he used to be. He’s smiling, laughing and even joking around the course and on the range. Something I think he has needed for a long time.

Golf is one of those sports where beating yourself up on one flaw can produce more flaws, rather than overcome and correct them. No one has ever done well after throwing their club at a tree or in the water or even slamming it on the ground like it’s the clubs fault.

Trust me, I have no experience in the latter, I just give mine a love tap a time or two and let myself know it’s going to be all right since it’s not my fault.

Anyway, that was something that was beginning to develop out of Tiger in his handful of other comebacks: getting frustrated over little things. He didn’t have a rhythm or flow, everything just seemed forced.

I will say that if you’re looking for Tiger to come out swinging for the fences and expect him to even finish in the top five, chances are, you’re going to be disappointed. Give the guy a break for once and just enjoy the moments of greatness we’ll get to witness. He’s going to have bad shots, but he’s going to have good ones too. Hopefully he can enjoy the game and have a good time no matter how well or bad he’s playing.

The point is he’s hitting shots again and needs to keep up that physical, emotional, and mental mindset he seems to have right now and throughout the week. He wants to be more than a “YouTube golfer” as he called himself. His kids want to see him and actually be able to recollect his talent rather than having to watch videos about what used to be. The focused, timid, and self-destructive man he became.

Now Tiger is back and I like the new version. Tiger 2.0, if you will.

I like seeing the player I looked up to like every other kid growing up watching the game, smiling and joking and just enjoying life. I hope this can be a big first step into seeing him regain some supremacy in the game again. It’s not going to happen in a week, but this attitude could go a long way in helping him get back to enjoying the game and being good at it again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some green juice and does yoga at 5 a.m. He probably even meditates until it’s time to actually step onto the course, and I’m okay with that.

Whatever it is that he’s doing, I don’t really care. I’m just happy to see the player I love being able to love his own life and enjoy the beautiful game of golf.

 

 

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