Monday’s Takeaway had been set to recap the on-course happenings of the first Rolex Series event at Wentworth, where Alex Noren came form nowhere to bag his first win of 2017, moving back into the worlds top ten, and Shane Lowry went close, finishing top ten after being on the charge for the front nine and falling short on the back nine. After a five under front nine, he failed to capitalize on the back, over to more than inclement weather and a poor drive on fifteen, hooking out of bounds when he was only two behind. Still, it earns him good money, and even better World Ranking points, given his slide from 19th to 76th in the OWGR. I had hoped to report on Kevin Kisners great win at the Dean and DeLuca in Texas, piping big names like Speith and Rahm to the post.
Speith rediscovering that he is one of the worlds top players, and as promised putting better on bent grass, like he said post Players. Jon Rahm-bo still continues to show why he is set to be the next great player in the game, and a guy I can’t wait to see in Port Stewart. I was even going to detail the conflicting scenarios for Irish golfers going towards the US Open, as Wicklows second best artist (you’re not as good with a guitar is Hozier Paul!) qualified for Erin Hills at the preliminary stages at Walton Health, alongside McIlroy, Lowry and 2010 winner Graeme McDowell, and fan favourite Beef Johnston, Richie Ramsay and Bradley Dredge et al. But no. Having been on course and sans communication device, my phone LIT UP when it came time to recharge post eighteen.
The ghastly image of the Great One, whose hairline resembles the parting of the Red Sea, smacks of a man who simply can’t get it together. The man that had the world on its knees, and others cowering in fear, is now seemingly a parody of himself. As far fetched as his comeback seemed already, even with, in his words, a successful spinal fusion only last week, it has to be dead in the water officially at this stage. Those, like Taylormade, that gambled on his image as the great, must be regretting the move now. It seemed that the Big Cat would never come back to his former self, and would segue his way into a Palmer-esque sunset, designing courses and putting his name to products. Hence the new branding by him, and more amiable corporate and public image. Gone was the Terminator, the ice cold, kill your granny Champion, that did what it took to win, that held grudges against anyone who dreamed to challenge or piss him off. The guy that kept company with the diminutive, so as to further assert his power.
Now was the more family orientated Tiger, that showed up for his kids Show and Tell and engaged in discourse of the pleasant variety, telling us of how he felt being someone of colour at the ’97 Masters. I don’t want to throw shade at Tiger, even if one of my posts displays comic levity. He’s the reason so many like me are into golf in the first place. And far be it for me to throw a stone out of my glass house. This incident (I’m not trying to take it lightly either, in case that’s the assumption) needs to be taken in context. This is a guy who has clearly lost his identity. Not after the well publicized turn of events prior to this, but when his father, Earl, passed away. Earl was the cornerstone of Tigers existence, and for Tiger, everything was done to appease father. Earl was notoriously hard on young Eldrick, preparing him for the harshness of greatness that awaited him. This stemmed from the military background that Earl had, being a SEAL and essentially prepping Tiger for war.
Tiger grew up playing on the Navy golf course at Cypress, just down the road from where Earl was stationed. Hours were spent with militaristic determination moulding the future world number one, with Earl firing out racist expletives with gay abandon, readying Tiger for a scene that he was never meant to be a part of, forging a siege mentality into a skinny kid with a golden swing. Earl taught Tiger how to win the game before he even showed up to the driving range. Ultimately, it was to be Tigers undoing, this author feels anyway. From the quaintness of using military language to others, saying “downrange” and signing off messages with “roger that”, to the SEAL training that was to be the undoing of his knee, even when he was the golfing behemoth that strode fairways and won by double digits, he never felt good enough for his own father. His father, that was his only outlet in childhood. Maybe he is still in the grieving process, and with all the turmoil in his life, he doesn’t know how to handle anything that is beyond his control.
Military credo is to control your destiny, eliminating as many variables as you can, using a congruent plan and successful completion of objectives. It’s a far removed world from self-doubt, but essentially that’s what we see here. Tiger is afraid to be human, and is struggling with it. I sincerely hope that he gets the necessary help, as I resigned myself long ago to the fact that he won’t be back as a golfing entity. This is a human drama, played out on the global stage. Get better Tiger.