Commentary: Tiger Woods Can’t Slow His Slide to Mediocrity

Commentary: Tiger Woods Can’t Slow His Slide to Mediocrity

Will the one-time star of the PGA be able to get his golf career back in gear?

Published April 10, 2015

Not so long ago, Rafael Nadal, an athlete with sterling credentials of his own, said this about Tiger Woods:

“I admire a lot of people, but in terms of sport I've always loved the mentality of Tiger Woods on a golf course. I always love his eyes when he's setting himself and focusing on his decision; he has a really strong, focused face and believes that he can make the shot.”

Tiger did play with a “focused face” at one point in his career. He did believe he could make each shot he took at one point in his career. He did believe he could will himself to victory, particularly on a taxing course like Augusta National.

But he’s not that Tiger Woods anymore.

For Tiger has been humbled. The swagger he once showed on the golf course has disappeared altogether, replaced now by uncertainty, confusion, frustration and a dose of humility.

We never figured to see that in Tiger Woods. Back in those glory times of his, he was winning tournaments; his name frightened opponents; and he dominated the PGA Tour. He played golf like no man of his generation.

Tiger found his name mentioned in the same discussion that people had when talking about Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Lee Trevino, great golfers from earlier eras.

Did those discussions occur that long ago?

Time doesn’t wait for any golfer to right his game, and Tiger’s game surely needs to be set right.

We see that now, if we didn’t see it earlier, as we watch him tee it up at Augusta again Friday, hopeful that his second round at the Masters resembles what he did in the early years of the century when he was the golfer to beat at the game’s signature event.

But we would be delusional to think we’ll ever see that Tiger again. We know that from what he’s done the past six or seven years, and we had what we did know of his game reinforced after watching Tiger’s first round of 73, nine shots behind 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.

To call it forgettable might be too generous, but almost all Tiger has done the past golf seasons is easily forgotten. No one remembers tournaments played where a golfer’s name lands either in the middle of the pack or drags the bottom of the leaderboard.

For a while now, Tiger’s life and his golf game have gotten the kind of scrutiny that has gone to men like Alex Rodriguez, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Yet both his life and his golf game have been disasters, two shipwrecks trying to keep from sinking to the ocean’s floor.

He has been unable to salvage both, which should have made him a sympathetic character. It has not. For the expectations of Tiger Woods have always been higher than anybody else’s in the game. He has been expected to win, even when winning has become increasingly unlikely, if not impossible.

"I'm trying to beat everybody out there,” Tiger said in a USA Today article the other day. “That hasn't changed. I prepare to win and expect to go and do that. The only difference is that I won the Masters when Jordan was still in diapers. The difference is that guys are now younger, a whole other generation of kids are coming out."

Life has changed on Tiger Woods. Life has changed on all of us. We’re older each day; our pasts don’t count as much as our presents; and Tiger’s present doesn’t look anything as handsome as his past.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Written by By: Justice B. Hill

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