1. The Last Time
Although it's commonly thought that Tiger plays go-for-broke golf and tries the most difficult shots with no fear, it's a false image. Tiger is, above all, a calculating golfer who plays percentages and makes sure to err on the safe side.
Avoiding the big miss was a big part of what made Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus so great, and it's style that Tiger has emulated.
There was something very different about Tiger that made me sure he'd continue to be historic. He definitely had a sense of mission, and you couldn't help thinking that it had something to do belonging to a minority.
I said that in his first year Tiger would be the leading money winner. — I know that quote had something to do with his eventually picking me to coach him.
He (John Jacob) came up with maybe the best sentence in the history of teaching: "Golf is what the ball does." In other words, the flight of the ball tells the teacher where the student's club was at impact. From there, the teacher can make the appropriate corrections of grip, posture, alignment, ball position, plane, club path, or club face angle.
"You've got to build a swing that will eliminate the big miss." It was a concept that stayed with me.
3. Coaching Tiger
Those he genuinely liked tended to be quiet, modest, hardworking guys like Jim Furyk and Steve Striker, whose ability he respects but whose talent didn't elevate them to the position od serious rival.
He didn't want players who could be a threat to feel comfortable around him.
His favorite series was the animated comedy South Park. He liked it so much that, in the aftermath of his public scandal, when a Tiger Woods character was lampooned in one of the episodes, Tiger confessed to me that he laughed and actually seemed proud to have made the show.
To the outside world, unfamiliar with the concept that golf is a game of controlled miss, it simply appeared that Tiger had lost his superpowers.
I believe that a lot of the public obsession about Tiger versus Phil was about race. Racism is particularly life, part of America, and definitely alive in the golf culture.
As Butch found out, "maintenance" was the wrong theme. Tiger thrives on the chase.
To me, it was an example of a great performer doing what Geoff Colvin in his book Talent is Overrated calls "deliberate practice." It's the most difficult and highest level of practice because it requires painstaking focus in weakness. A lot of players hit a lot of balls but focus only on their strength. The great improvement are willing to get uncomfortable and make the mental and physical effort to correct a flaw, which often involves difficult "opposite-oriented" remedial learning.
With the tool at his disposal, he became a more thoughtful shot maker and this a better course manager.
The Nine Shots also helped him understand better than ever the exact courses of different ball flights—such factors as club path, clubface angle, angle of attach, and clubhead speed. It gave him the knowledge to diagnose and fix himself more efficiently on the course.
"I make all the hard ones but but miss all the easy ones." He (C. J. Wiley — billiards champion) responded, "Hank, that's because there are no easy shots. There are just shots."
I had sensed from observing her that Tiger's killer instinct came from this mother even more than it did from Earl.
I believe one of the reasons Phil Mickelson has been prone to making mistakes with a lead is that he doesn't trust himself to make four- and five-foot par putts
It wasn't written about, but I think Tom Watson hit an 8-iron rather than a 9-iron to a back pin on the 72nd hole at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry because he knew that, though the 9-iron would never go long like 8-iron, it was more likely to leave him a long putt from the front of the green that would be a nerve-wracking to get down in two.
The 2007 season was when I first began to think that Tiger was closer to the end of his greatness than he was to the beginning. In hindsight, I think Tiger did, too.
There is a strong likelihood that a Kill House is where Tiger did serious damage to his career.
He would soon tell Golf Digest that the original injury to his left knee was caused by skateboarding spills when he was a kid.
Tiger preferred that people see his injuries related to his sport, so that he could wear them as an athletic badge of honor. To him, injuries were a way of being accepted into the fraternity of superstars who played more physical sports than golf.
If I had to point to one reason Tiger won only two majors with me in our last three years, versus the four he won in the two years prior, it was work ethic.
6. Highest Mountain
The biggest cost may have been psychological. Tiger knew he was climbing the biggest mountain of his career at Torrey Pines, and it inspired him to an incredible achievement. Afterward, Tiger had finally congratulated himself. But what if the satisfaction he'd gained took the edge off his hunger? What if it meant he wouldn't be able to find a higher mountain that he wanted to climb?
I began to think of Tiger as belonging to a group that included such figures as Michael Jackson and Britney Spears—public superstars whose way of escaping pressure became self-destructive.
"When I play golf again, I'm going to okay for myself. I'm not going to play for my dad, or my mom, or Mark Steinberg, or Steve Williams, or Nike, or my foundation, or you, or fans. Only for myself."
"Buddhism reaches that craving of things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security," Tiger said. "It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."
He said he'd watched some tournaments on television, and he commented on how much he liked the backswing of Justin Rose, who'd just switched to instructor Sean Foley.
I guess I'd felt the water getting warmer, but until I hit that Send button, I hadn't realized how hot it really was.
8. Adding It Up
I wish Tiger had been less reckless in partaking I. workout regimens and military-training activities that further damaged his knee.
As mush as Tiger and I went through, and as much as I cared about him and still do, I consider the distance between us a big miss for both of us.