Second Thoughts About Tiger


Tiger Woods finished second Sunday at The Tour Championship in Atlanta at East Lake. Afterward he said he was disappointed. Which was understandable. Woods plays to win. Second place, he once said when he was a little younger and less verbally evolved, sucks.
Among other things, Woods would have liked to have broken Vijay Singhs single season money record, set last year, of more than $10.9 million. Woods fell short.
But nobody made more money on the PGA Tour in 2005 than Tiger Woods. Nobody won more events (six) or more major championships (two). And nobody will be anywhere near him when the balloting for Player of the Year is announced later this fall.
All of which got me to wondering: Since Woods sets his goals so high, is a six-win, two-major year a disappointment? Since his goal is to win every event in which he plays, is anything less than that a letdown?
Aiming high is a wonderful thing. But so is the occasional pat on the back from yourself to yourself. Put it this way: Woods will turn 30 next month. If we told him he would win six times a year, including two majors, every year in his 30s, do you think he would take it?
Think about it for a second. That would be 60 more Tour victories and 20 more major championships before his 40th birthday. That would pretty much shatter every significant record he hasnt already broken.
But this is one of the fascinating things about Tiger: He doesnt like to concede anything. And if he took the hypothetical deal offered, it would mean, among other things, he would not win a calendar grand slam and he would not break Byron Nelsons record of 11 straight Tour wins.
It is the ultimate compliment to Woods that we are even semi-seriously considering these kinds of achievements. It is easy to criticize and wag a finger at Woods and tell him he should be satisfied with who he is and what hes got.
The fact is I believe Woods IS satisfied with who he is and what hes got. A large part of who he is is all about the drive to get better. I dont think he will be trading that anytime soon.
What I do think we will see is a shifting of priorities if and when another of Woods stated goals comes to be. Tiger has said he wants to be a father. When that happens, he will see the four majors, for example, in a different light. They will be no less important to him but they wont be the single most important thing.
Anyway, we should shed no tears for Tiger Woods when he doesnt win. Even he knows, intellectually, he cant finish first every week. Second or worse, only serves to fan the flames of his competitive desire.
For all his physical gifts, that fire that burns inside of him, is the single most remarkable attribute he possesses. I think he understands that even better than we do.
I, for one, cant wait to see the body of work Woods produces in the next 10 years.
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