A New Kind of Tiger Delivers Same Old Result

June 17, 2008

Tiger_200Yesterday Tiger Woods made golf history at Torrey Pines. Today he made his way onto The New York Times op-ed page as columnist David Brooks took a break from oil and Obama to reflect on Woods, “the exemplar of mental discipline.” Brooks doesn’t add much new spin to the Tiger discourse, but the piece is a proficient summary of how other writers have tried to understand the origins and evolution of Tiger’s unwavering focus. Brooks writes:

Analysts inevitably bring up his mother’s Buddhism, his experiments in meditation. They describe his match-mentality in the phrases one might use to describe a guru achieving nirvana. He achieves, they say, perfect clarity, tranquility and flow. We’re talking about somebody who is the primary spokesman for Buick, and much of the commentary about him is on the subject of his elevated spiritual capacities. That’s all true, but over the past five days, as Woods whacked and winced his way around Torrey Pines, we saw a different kind of Tiger, one who was neither tranquil nor flowing. The gimpy knee, the loose swings, the double bogeys, the 91 holes he needed to dispatch a 45-year-old with a bad back — none of it resembled spiritual transcendence.
This week was about old-fashioned guts — a gritty performance we’d expect from an offensive tackle, not a golfer. It was about endurance. It was about Tiger winning in that rare instance when he wasn’t supposed to. I mean, really, he didn’t have to win this U.S. Open. We would have understood. Instead, he did, and we’ll never understand how.
(Photo: Robert Beck/SI)