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Point-Counterpoint: Can Woods move on?

<ong>New balance between competition and the fun of the game – By David Sacks

By David Sacks

As Tiger Woods returns to his domain—the golf course—and seeks to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and cement himself as the greatest golfer of all time, he vows that we are seeing a new Tiger. But will this “new and improved” Tiger be as effective?

During Woods’ press conference on Monday, he said things that nobody who follows golf ever thought he would say, such as, “It’s not about championships. It’s about how you live your life.” There were pictures on the internet of Tiger signing autographs, which he never used to do. He vowed to stop swearing on the course, but along with that he said his celebrations would be toned down. Finally, he said that he was happy to just be taking everything in during his practice round and was just having fun playing golf again.

The old Tiger had an unequaled tunnel vision. He didn’t acknowledge fans and had his mind on one thing on the golf course—winning. He loved nothing more than crushing his opponents, and when he hit a bad shot he let everyone know it, cursing and throwing clubs. When he hit a great shot, he threw down his hat, fist pumped or high-fived his caddy. All of this intimidated his opponents and was part of the Tiger lore.

So can Tiger be a more balanced person and not lose any of his competitive edge? Or was there something about his one-track mind and former sense of entitlement that made him such a great golfer?

Balanced people don’t win as much as those who are obsessed with the competition and make winning their top priority. Phil Mickelson is hailed as a golfer who puts his family first and is the best with the fans. He’s won a few majors, but he’s also blown just as many leads. Ben Hogan, who many would put in the same category as Tiger and Nicklaus, hit golf balls until his hands bled and putted in his hotel rooms late into the night. Nobody would have given Hogan a “fan favorite” award.

With the Masters this weekend, Tiger has an opportunity to prove this school of thought wrong. If a kinder, more balanced Tiger is still as dominant on the golf course, it could be a great lesson for anyone who is trying to find balance in his or her life. After someone such a powerful figure is able to reorder his life and maintain his dominance, then others should be able to do the same.

But what if Tiger is ineffective? If the new Tiger is a better person, but a worse golfer? Maybe for the new Tiger this is not as important, and maybe we should not be focusing on Tiger’s performance on the course at this point in his life, but how would Tiger move forward? It’s hard for me to imagine that Tiger’s results on the course would not influence how he lives his life off the course.

Woods makes a valiant efforts to win back fans’ trust – By Justin Rotman

By Justin Rotman

More than four months after a seemingly innocent one-way car accident with a fire hydrant unleashed a firestorm of media and attention upon the world’s most famous athlete that revealed years of infidelity, Tiger Woods’ life returned to as normal as it can be this week.  After 144 days away from competitive golf, Tiger came back to play at arguably his favorite tournament and course, the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Tiger’s fallout has been well-documented over the last few months. Losses of corporate sponsorships and tons of fans, a broken marriage, 45 days in rehab, and an image that will take years, maybe a lifetime, to repair.  When he walked to the opening tee box to a welcoming applause yesterday, he officially resumed his conquest to become the greatest golfer ever.  As for resuming his life, he has already taken steps to repair his image and his marriage.

After days of silence following the car accident, assumed to be spent attempting to cover up his infidelities, Tiger apologized to his family, friends, and fans on national television. In a Carletonian article this winter, I wrote how Tiger could not be entirely believed and given a second chance, if not forgiven, until he did a major TV interview. In interviews with both ESPN and The Golf Channel, Tiger opened himself up to questions that America had been asking since Thanksgiving night: What happened? Why didn’t you stop? What were you thinking? Why did you get married? A very open, humbled, different Tiger appeared as he never had before. He was kind and friendly. His “holier-than-thou” aura evaporated.

Many are speculating on what Tiger’s chances are at Augusta this weekend. Surely a top-10 finish is in order, right? What if he misses the cut? Or, what if he…wins? Questions abound about whether Tiger will be rested or rusty from his layoff. Will this “new” Tiger be able to focus on his game? Can he remain that menacing, take-no-prisoners golfer we saw for so many years? Will he still have that killer instinct?
To me, all these questions will be resolved in time. The most important thing for Tiger is to continue on his path of changing his life. He hurt a lot of people with his selfishness over the past few years, and what he does off the course in the time being to repair those relationships is much more important than inching one major closer to Jack Nicklaus. So far, he has made the right moves. He actually signed autographs during his practice rounds. He commented during his half-hour press conference how good it felt just to be out there, how golf was fun for him again. 

Personally, I believe he has so much talent and drive that he is one of those rare people who can flip a switch and take over when he needs to. I don’t think his golf game will be affected by his personal changes. But it doesn’t matter. Over the weekend, as we see the beginning of what Tiger 2.0 can (still) do on the golf course, whether you find yourself rooting for him or not, take time to see the changes in this new Tiger. Because winning a golf tournament is not nearly as important as winning back the love, respect, and trust of his fans.

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