Late last week it was announced that Tiger Woods had entered the Safeway Open (Oct 13-16 at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California). The golf world was buzzing with the return of one of, if not the, most dominate golfers to ever swing a club. There’s no doubt in my mind that ticket sales for the event surged on the news of Tiger’s return. TV executives had to be licking their chops at the potential increase in viewers not just this week but for future tournaments if Tiger is able to return full-time.
Then the news came today that Tiger was withdrawing from the event, plus another tournament in Turkey that he had committed to. He was quick to release a statement clarifying that his withdraw had nothing to do with his physical health (he had back surgery almost 2 years ago), but rather it was with performance. Tiger Woods was worried that his game wasn’t going to be good enough for tournament play.
Granted Tiger hasn’t won a major since 2008 and he hasn’t been the same since his personal life was exposed. But he’s Tiger freaking Woods! He has made professional golf what it is today. He bridged the gap between the Greg Normans, Tom Lehmans, Davis Loves, Payne Stewarts, Fred Couples, and Nick Prices to today’s group of young superstars. Without Tiger the late 90’s and early 00’s could have been the death of the PGA tour, but instead he not only kept it afloat but raised the game overall. He single-handedly exposed a new set of golfers to the game. At that time golf needed Tiger Woods more than Tiger Woods needed golf.
Oh how the times have changed. Now the PGA tour, and golf around the world, is flourishing (on a broad scale). We are witnessing some of the best displays of ability ever seen (although I’d still argue the Nicklaus/Palmer era may still be more competitive) and Tiger hasn’t been anywhere close to it.
My message to Tiger is to play. Get into a tournament. Don’t worry about your performance. You’re human. We love to see a hero that has fallen from grace go through the struggles and show they too are just like us, only to rise back up. This is what you can do. So what if you go out and shoot an 85 in the first two rounds and miss the cut. You were out there. You felt the atmosphere. You felt the pressure. You felt the joy. You heard the cheers. You heard the groans. You hear the encouragement because no one wants to see you fail, and even a bad round won’t be a failure in their eyes. Put your pride aside and just get out there. Practice can only do so much. You need to feel the tournament atmosphere. You need to feel the adrenaline rushing. You need to feel the focus. You need to feel the pressure. You need the fans. You need the encouragement. You need to have fun. Just go out and do it, performance and results be damned. The longer you put it off the harder it will be for you to be happy with where you’re at. And if you can’t get yourself out there then walk away. There’s no shame to call it a career. You have plenty of life left to continue making an impact in any way you want.