Tiger Woods opened his 2014 golf season at Torrey Pines last week—a venue where he has won eight times in the past.
After two very uninspiring early rounds on Thursday and Friday, Tiger’s 79 on Saturday was tied for the second worst score of his playing career and ended the tournament for him, something that can be considered remarkable considering his past total dominance over this course.
Tiger’s swing coach, Sean Foley, came out immediately and said not to hit the panic button because it’s a long season and he has liked what he has seen from Tiger during practice.
Foley said they “we’ll just keep working and see where it takes us.”
Sean, I know exactly where Tiger is headed, getting more of the same results until Tiger makes the most important adjustment…an adjustment I will explain shortly.
This past week, Tiger followed up by finishing tied for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic, his worst finish there in his seven appearances and the first time in his storied career that he has failed to finish in the top 20 in either of his first two events of the season.
It seems despite his countless hours of practice and his still relatively young age that Tiger is heading in the wrong direction.
Foley is correct in some ways, it is a long season and this is just the beginning.
And if last year is any indication, Tiger will win his share of tournaments and be among the top money winners again this year, just like he was in 2013.
For most golfers, that would be an incredible accomplishment to be among golf’s elite but, Tiger isn’t most golfers and for most of his career, Tiger has transcended golf’s elite.
Tiger dominated the sport for over a decade like no other single player in any sport before him and his standards and expectations are way above what he accomplished last year.
He was also on track to annihilate Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Majors won in his career.
However, Tiger hasn’t won a major since 2008 and the way his game is right now, he may not win another unless he identifies and fixes the real problem.
The problem that has been keeping him from getting back to prominence despite the countless hours of practice.
The problem that is dictating all of his results and will probably continue to deliver the same results unless something drastic happens.
And, that problem is–you guessed it–his mind.
Until Tiger truly understands how his mind works and why he is getting the results he is getting, all of the practice in the world probably won’t deliver the results he is working so hard to achieve.
By his mind, I don’t mean Tiger’s head or his brain or his ‘mental toughness’. Tiger is maybe the most mentally tough athlete in the world.
By his mind, I mean his internal programming and conditioning, his subconscious mind (where his habits come from) and his state of being on the golf course.
It’s those things that are delivering his sub-par results and it’s his State of Being that is delivering his thoughts, his emotions, his conflicts and his actions.
And don’t think the incidents from his marriage in 2009 didn’t leave some internal scars—they did—and it’s there where I believe the work needs to be done.
It doesn’t take much to see that the timing of his relationship issues coincide directly with his change in performance on the links.
It’s not a coincidence.
Since those unsettling events, his indestructible outward force that used to dominate tournaments along with the confidence, swagger and intensity that would easily overcome a disastrous shot, have mostly disappeared…just like they did that Saturday at Torrey Pines.
All of the practice and swing work in the world won’t make a difference until he fixes the internal operating system that governs his external results.
A change in internal programming.
Some of what Tiger developed as internal conditioning and programming to be a champion during his young life has been reprogrammed due to some failures and they must be rebooted.
The marital events of 2009 clearly left some deep internal scars which is very normal.
The key is to recognize the scars and move through them with certain powerful techniques.
Until he does, the ‘residue’ from those experiences will continue to manifest in ongoing failure, whether in competition or in his personal life.
It is there where Tiger needs some extra work, in identifying those resistant states of being that are holding him back, accepting them while reprogramming his sub-conscious mind for success moving forward.
One other observation: Remember the pre-2008 Tiger Woods?
He was filled with fire and confidence and anger and focus!
When he hit a bad shot he would get pissed then usually proceed to follow it up with a miraculous shot to get right back on track!
When he made a great shot or drained a big putt, you saw the fire, the excitement and the fist-pumping!
Now, the Tiger I see gets frustrated and dejected when things aren’t going his way and much of the time he has a look of struggle on his face instead of digging deep to make the adjustments needed to overcome the challenges.
He is also continuously talking about NEEDING to work more on his swing and his putting and on and on which will only create more of needing to do the work as need creates more need.
Tiger, you spent your entire life training your body to hit a golf ball perfectly and you have succeeded more times than any golfer in.
So, it’s time to get out of the way mentally and allow your body to do what it already knows how to do.
Drop the need, drop the struggle, drop the frustration and allow yourself to play golf again the way you played for most of your brilliant career. Unless Tiger does those things, you can probably expect more of the same from him.
– Coach Mike