Tiger tamed by Royal Portrush but will be back on the prowl for FedEx playoffs

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 19: Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the 18th during the second round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 19, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Tiger Woods likes his video games so he is unlikely to have taken much notice of an English metaphysical poet and writer John Donne who was very much in vogue around 400 years ago.

One of Donne’s most famous passages contained the words “no man is an island, entire of itself” and if ever that phrase applied to a human being living in the 21st century, Woods is that guy.

The problem is that Tiger had to learn the hard way that a blinkered self-centred focus and absurdly exaggerated sense of entitlement cannot ensure isolation from the outside world.

Ultimately, the barriers he had erected, the aura of superior mentality and golfing performance, came crashing down with that infamous car crash near his home in Isleworth, Florida in November 2009.

No need to rehash what followed for Woods, who by then had amassed 14 major titles and looked odds on to match or beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

The detail of Woods’ journey through the next nine years up to the end of 2018 has been chronicled in many ways by countless commentators and writers but surely not in such depth as in “Tiger Woods” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster.

Their research was prodigious. No avenue of exploration was overlooked. The outcome was a stunningly comprehensive portrait of Tiger, his upbringing by dad Earl and mother Kultida, and his development into the single most influential figure in golf, probably ever.

Yes, the book delves very thoroughly into the scandals that brought him crashing down from his isolated pedestal, but the counterbalance is the chronicling of Woods’ awesome feats and achievements, starting from age two when he made his debut on national television in the USA.

This will probably not be a book that Woods will want his children to read when they are older.

If and when that happens, they will hopefully only have eyes for the dad who has done all he can to redeem himself as a man and a sporting icon.

Is he loved, revered, and admired as a golfer? You betcha!  Which makes his absence from the weekend play in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush a real shame.

Tiger’s 78,70 for 148 (+6) ended his bid to claim major number 16. Even before he teed off in round one on Thursday, he looked to be uncomfortable. He walked stiffly, he never got any momentum with his game.

What a disappointment for the player and the Royal Portrush galleries who wanted to see him rise to the heights he displayed in winning the Tour Championship last season and The Masters last April.

Still, he stayed professional. He tried on every shot and never lay down as the holes ran out and the birdies remained elusive.

Inevitably, the murmurings of “is he gone?”, “is that it?”, “how can he remain competitive with that battered body?” began to figure in some post-round assessments by fans and media.

Well, Woods made it clear that he will exert every ounce of his formidable will to prove the doubters wrong – again. The essence of his message to the media was “don’t write me off.”

“This is just me not playing well and not scoring well, and adds up to high scores. It’s more frustrating than anything else because this is a major championship and I love playing in these events.

“I love the atmosphere. I love just the stress of playing in a major. And unfortunately, I’ve only had a chance to win one of them and was able to do it. But the other three I didn’t do very well,” he said.

Subtle reminder there to y’all: He is the Masters Champion. Here’s another subtle reminder of the quality of his comeback from all those back surgeries: “Last year I almost stole the whole FedExCup at the very end.

“If it wasn’t for Rosie’s little break there at the bunker, it could have been interesting” – highlighting the lucky break eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose received when his shot to 18 in round four narrowly escaped a sand trap close to the green.

Yes, Tiger needs a rest. But he has no intention of fading away into retirement, not if he can help it. Already he has his sights set on the FedEx playoffs.
“I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and get ready for the playoffs. We’ve got the playoffs coming up, and anything can happen,” he said.



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