The comeback athlete of the year

It is very common for the sports media to hand out awards for various categories at the end of each year. A particular athlete in the world of golf has really captured my attention in recent months and easily gets my vote for comeback athlete of the year. It is none other than Tiger Woods. Now I know Woods has many detractors and those who want him to fail. But what he has done this season is nothing short of remarkable considering where he was last year at this time.

About a year ago, many people, including myself, thought that we had seen the last of Tiger. Reports where that Woods could barely walk and needed yet another back surgery. Forget about ever swinging a golf club again. I am sure that Tiger just wanted to live a normal life and be pain free. You could have understood if Tiger announced that he was through with golf. He had accomplished so much in his great career and there was no need to prove anything else. Well we just did not know Tiger, he seems to think that he has more championships left and judging from his play this season, I think he may just be right!

I was one of those skeptics who doubted reports early this golf season that Woods was back and playing better than he has for years. It is one thing to look good hitting balls on the range, and another thing to actually follow through on the golf course during a high-profile tournament. Woods proved me wrong several times this year. He was in contention in some of the Tour’s early tournament, then he nearly won the last 2 major tournaments, the Open and the PGA. The fact that he nearly won those tournaments so soon after coming back is proof that Tiger is back and I expect him to win a few more majors before his career is finished.

Anytime a great athlete like Woods is hobbled by injury and cannot perform like they once did is very sad. Seeing that same athlete show a true amount of grit and determination to come back and try to reclaim that glory is very inspiring for anyone. Tiger is showing right now that he has a lot more to him than just a great deal of golf ability. He also has a lot of heart and determination and how can you not root for him now? His next major will be the most special of them all. I don’t think he will ever be the dominating player that he once was. but you can rest assured that you will see him contending for many championships in the future.


Will Tiger Woods ever be great again?

One the biggest story lines coming out this weekend’s PGA tournament in Whistling Straits is yet another missed cut for Tiger Woods. If you’re keeping score at home, that is now 3 straight missed cuts in majors for Woods who is now ranked 278th in the official world rankings after being the top golfer in the world for so many years. His downfall has been absolutely shocking. If someone would have told me about 7 years ago that Woods would be the 278th ranked golfer in the world on August 16th 2015, I would have asked what drugs he or she is on. Back then, Tiger could probably play left-handed and still be in the top 100. It was not a question on whether Woods could break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major champion wins, but rather when. He dominated the sport in a 10 year stretch that few golfers ever have. I have never seen in all my years of watching sports such a high-profile athlete fall like Woods has.

So what is the problem with Woods? Why has he fallen so dramatically? These questions get constantly asked by the golf pundits. The Golf Channel’s crew at the PGA spent a considerable amount of time talking about Tiger’s game and whether he will ever win another major. The consenus of many in the gold world is that Woods is finished as being a top flight golfer and will be just another regular average golfer from now on. As a fan of the sport and player, I am definitely in the minority in saying that Woods still has some bullets left in his gun; he is not finished by any means. It would not shock me in the least to see him rise back again to a high level and possible win a few more majors.

There has been a lot of talk about Woods having multiple swing coaches during his career and whether that is really a good thing for him or any golfer. My question is why change a good thing? Even when Woods was dominating and hitting the ball well, he was constantly changing his coaches. He had some of the best coaches in the game. Apparently, Woods is one of these guys who can never be satisfied with his golf swing. Perhaps he was and is still too much of a perfectionist. A good golf swing should be a simple natural motion. No matter how ugly it may look, the only thing that matters is for consistent results. Woods needs to go back to Butch Harmon and get his swing straightened out.

Sure, Woods at times has had problems with his swing but in order for him to really achieve greatness again, his short game really has to come around. During his glory days, Tiger used to be money on those clutch short putts. Nowadays, he is really struggling to make anything! Forget about fixing his swing, if his putting and chipping do not improve, Woods will definitely not come back and win anything. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a 20 handicapped golfer when I see Woods trying to chip the ball or ball out of a bunker. It is even more shocking to see him struggle in that part of the game as opposed to swing.

Many people who cover golf fail to mention the effect of his injuries in recent years. A back problem is very toxic to any level golfer. Woods has battled back issues in recent years and that could be why he has suddenly dropped off. It appears that Woods is recovering nicely from those injuries and that may be key in helping him regain his winning ways. I doubt any golfer with back issues can play at a high level. The margin of error in golf these days is just too small. There are just too many good players, especially younger players. His injuries are definitely a reason that he has fallen so dramatically.

Whether you like or hate Woods, you have to admit that his return to greatness would be huge for the world of golf. Imagine a major with him, Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy competing for the title? It would create interest that golf has never seen. I still believe it will happen eventually. Sure Woods will be turning 40 this year, but let’s not write his obituary just yet. If anyone can come back, it’s Woods. He still has a little bit of gas left in his tank to compete at a high level and beat some of the young phenoms in golf. He may not dominate golf again like he used to, but he could soon be a strong contender in many tournaments.

The misfortunes of Tiger and Kobe

You might say that last Friday, April 12th, will be a day that both Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods will want to forget as quickly as possible. Both of these high profile athletes probably had their worst nightmares come to true life in a matter of hours. It just goes to show you that even the great ones in any particular sport will sooner or later face adversity and how they respond will usually define their legacy.

I have never seen a golfer in any tournament get the kind of bad break that Woods got on the 15th hole. During his approach shot, Woods hit a nearly perfect shot onto a slanted green. The objective was to hit the ball towards the back of the green and spin the ball back towards the pin. Woods had the proper line and distance except there was a small obstacle in the way, the flag stick. The ball hit the flag stick on the way to the back of the green and promptly rolled off the green and into a creek located near the front edge of the green. Had the ball not hit the flag stick, it probably would have spun back to within a few feet of the cup and therefore giving Woods a great opportunity for a birdie on a par 5 hole. Instead, Woods was forced to drop his ball near the spot of his first shot and play the shot over with a one stroke penalty. His drop shot was perfect and landed close to the pin and Woods made a boogie 6. I believe Tiger could have probably hit a 100 balls from that same spot and not hit the pin. It was a terrible break and to add insult to injury, it was ruled later that Woods did not drop the ball in the proper place. He apparently dropped the ball a few yards back from where he was suppose to play his shot and according to the rules of golf, that is a no-no.

Although it seems like a rather silly rule, Tiger should have known about it. There is absolutely no excuse for any professional golfer not to know the rules of the game. They should know the rules inside and out especially concerning drops. That is a very common occurrence. I can remember a few years ago, Dustin Johnson got assessed a 2 stroke penalty for grounding his club into a trampled down area. Just days before, he received a memo explaining the rules of the course but obviously did not pay attention. It might have cost Johnson, thousands of dollars and a possible major championship.

The same can be said of Woods. The oversight of the rules along with a terrible, unlucky bounce cost him four strokes on the hole and probably will cost him the tournament. Imagine if he finishes three strokes behind the winners? If I were in his shoes, I would not be able to sleep for a week and have many nightmares about that incident.

The play that Kobe got injured on was just shear bad luck. If you ever watch him play, he is always making aggressive stop and start moves with the ball. The guy has the best footwork in the game. This time, the body finally caught up to him and he torn his Achilles tendon on a move to the basket.

The timing of the injury could not have been worse. The Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot and Bryant has been playing his rear end off during the last few weeks, trying everything in his power to put the Lakers in the post season. I am not really a Kobe fan but I admire his hard work and dedication to the game. He might be the hardest working player in the NBA and his work ethic is something that many younger players in the league should look at.

There was some talk after the injury that his career might be over. After all, Bryant is 34 but he has played in the league since he was 18. Along the way, Kobe has played in many playoff series so he might be considered an old 34. Those who say his career is over are totally full of it!! I would not be surprised if Bryant comes back better than ever for next season. His work ethic and determination will help him greatly in his rehab. I think the injury will give him another challenge to conquer and might be a blessing in disguise.

It seems like more athletes these days are suffering  serious injuries and it should really come as no secret. These guys need to take more time off from the game. Kobe has been logging heavy minutes this season after playing for the Olympic team last summer. A sport like basketball is hard on the body especially the joints. There is a great deal of pressure to do well and succeed but sometimes players need to dial back not only on their playing time but look at their off the court training. Kobe is a prime example of an athlete who probably pushed his body a bit too far. Just my opinion.

I am sure both of these great athletes will have brighter days ahead. I expect Tiger to bounce back and win a few more majors. Contrary to what people say, he has a lot of good golf left in his career and I believe he will break Nicklaus’s record for majors. The same can be said of Bryant. He still has about 5 good years left in him if he wants to continue playing. I am sure both of these guys will continue to have their ups and downs but both are tremendously tough minded athletes who will not let a bad day affect the rest of their careers. They will both bounce back.

Tiger’s apology

There has been a lot of discussion in the last 24 hours about Tiger Wood’s new conference and whether his statements actually did him any good to win back some of his popularity, or if it was just a scripted ploy on his part with no sincerity behind it.

Having watched the news conference,  I thought Woods said all the right things by taking full responsibility for his actions. I even agree with his attack on the media for invading the privacy of his wife and children. There is no reason for members of the press to follow his children back and forth to school and subject them to that kind of scrutiny.  But I feel Woods needs to do a whole lot more to win more people over.  The fact that the news conference was held in such a controlled manner without any questions is somewhat troubling, but at least it is a start. Maybe in a few months from now, he will agree to a prime time special with his wife next to him and they will talk about this ordeal and how he wants his wife and fans to forgive him. That would win over so many more people.

Standing up in front of a camera for 13 minutes and reading an apology script is fine but in this case, actions will speak much larger than words.  What is truly inside Tiger’s heart will be revealed in the coming months.  Anybody can act out a script and say that they are sorry but I want to see their actions after the apology. If Woods and his wife patch things up, will he turn back to his old ways of cheating and womanizing? Or will he have learned a painful and costly lesson and become a much better family man, husband and father?

The jury is still very much out on Woods and whether he can change things around. Just because he is getting treatment at some sex addiction place, does not mean that he will be totally cured. I really wonder what his wife thinks about him now and whether she can still trust him. Somehow, I have my doubts about this. Imagine if you caught your spouse cheating on you with multiple partners.  My guess is that many people would not hesitate to find the next available attorney. How can you possibly trust someone like that?

I really hope Tiger can work out his problems with his wife and they can patch things up.  This would be a tremendous  achievement and give inspiration to the many people in this country who are going through the same things in their marriages. But Woods will have to perform a magic act much greater than anything he has ever done on the golf course.

Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger and Christianity

During a round table discussion on Fox News Sunday, the topic of conversation shifted from news to a rare discussion about sports and what the four commentators would like to see happen in the next year. Brit Hume, who is a regular on the show and has my respect for being very knowledgeable about any subject, said that he would like to see Tiger Woods change his religion and faith from Buddhism to Christianity.  Immediately,  I thought to myself, this guy will get ripped to shreds for saying that, let alone just saying the c word on national television. And of course, that is exactly what happened. Hume was roundly criticized for his remarks, however, he was also praised for many for having the courage to say what he did.

Personally,  I praise Hume for actually standing up and expressing his opinion on such a touchy subject.  The fact is that Woods is going through a very difficult time in his life and obviously needs some sort of help. Many thousands of people have been through similar situations and have turned to the Christian faith for guidance and support. It has helped so many people out who were lost and seemingly at a dead-end in their lives. There are so many examples out there including  Hume, who lost his son to suicide and probably went through some really dark days in his own life.  The Christian faith is a proven one which offers forgiveness to anyone who is willing to admit his or her guilt.  It has changed so many lives around for the better.

Unfortunately, many people in this country view Christianity as some sort of crazy religion consisting of a bunch of zealots who stand on street corners, yelling at people to repent or else they will go to hell. That is not what the faith should be viewed as. Instead it is about forgiveness, kindness, treating people the right way, helping others in need, integrity, humility, honesty and the willingness to do the right thing. How can anyone criticize a faith that teaches those things?

I strongly believe that the people who criticize Christianity probably have never opened a Bible or really studied what it is about. I certainly believe it would help Tiger. In fact, he should seek out Tony Dungy for the guidance on how to get started. Christianity is a proven religion that has helped so many for so long.  What Brit Hume said was just a suggestion. People in this country have the right to follow any religion they please and are not forced into any particular religion. So let’s not knock a guy for just offering a simple suggestion.

The Tiger Woods fiasco is way overblown

A few months ago, one of my co-workers and I were talking about Tiger Woods and how this guy seems to come from a different planet.  Not only is he the best golfer in the world, he is arguably the most famous person in the world, has a lot of money and is married to a gorgeous woman.  What more could a guy want? I told my co-worker that I was a little envious of  Tiger and what guy would not be? He seems to have the type of life that any guy would dream of having.  However, the recent events with Tiger just goes to show that fame is not always the root of all happiness. In fact, it is usual the opposite.

As an avid golfer, I have to admit that Tiger is one of my favorite athletes of all time. I admire him for the way he works at his game and his drive to be the best of all time.  But the thing that I really admire most about Woods is his mental toughness. That part of his makeup really separates him from just about any other golfer out there. He plays ever single shot like it is his last and I really admire an athlete who puts out that kind of effort.  It was a real treat for me to have seen Woods in person during last years PGA and at another tournament.  The throngs of people following him is something to see!

While Tiger appears to be some sort of super human being, the truth of the matter is that he is just like any other person in this country with faults of his own. I do not know all the facts about what is going on in his personal life and quite frankly, it is NONE of my business and anybody else’s.  If he did indeed cheat on his wife, then that is between him and his wife and nobody else! It is very unfortunate that Tiger’s dirty laundry has to be aired out in public like this.  However, that is how things roll these days with the ever-expanding media. I find it very laughable that the same people who are ripping Woods for these alleged acts of infidelity are probably guilty of the same things in their lives! What a bunch of hypocrites!

If the alleged allegations against Woods are true,  then it would be a sad thing for his family, especially considering he has a few small children. Woods then should be held accountable. But that is between him and his family and nobody else.  I guess it is not such a great thing to be like Tiger or Micheal Jordan.  Imagine if every little thing was scrutinized in your life like it is with these famous celebrities.  One second thought, maybe I am not all that envious of Tiger.