Ivan Morris Column - Mutt and Jeff on what ails Tiger

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
MUTT: Everyone is weighing in on what’s wrong with Tiger Woods.

MUTT: Everyone is weighing in on what’s wrong with Tiger Woods.

Jeff: If Tiger had been a little warmer towards people and had a more humble and sympathetic personality, he would be in receipt of more compassion. Be nice to people on the way up and they won’t kick you on the way down syndrome.

Mutt: How can you say that about someone with 79-PGA Tour wins and 4-straight majors? A man who never once put his ball in a bunker in the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2000; a man who won the U.S. Open by 15-shots, shooting 12-under on a golf course where the next best score was 3-over. To write Tiger off is inconceivable. Whatever ails him must be fixable?

Jeff: If you fail to respect the gods of golf - they’ll come and get you. Tiger’s inability to show humility and appreciation has contributed to his downfall. Since his father died, he has surrounded himself with fools and yes men and fallen into the trap of over-tinkering with his swing in a futile pursuit of perfection. To think that everything in golf can be explained mechanically is a big mistake. Tiger’s off course problems have also affected his innermost psyche. What has happened to his game, especially his once majestic short game, is astonishing.

Mutt: How could Tiger become so far out of sorts so suddenly? It must be more than a loss of focus and confidence?

Jeff: It’s not really that sudden. He has been playing ‘hurt’ since 2007. He ‘bottled’ the 2009 PGA when losing out to YE Yang (whatever happened to him?) For Tiger to say he is caught between swing patterns and he could not play a lick because his gluteal muscles had shut down and could not be reactivated is silly nonsense.

Mutt: I’d say the humiliation of his sordid private life becoming public must have damaged his self-esteem - perhaps, beyond repair. He seems to have lost his nerve. Deep down he may not want to play anymore because he realizes his goal of beating Jack Nicklaus’s major record is beyond him.

Jeff: If he cannot play a simple, little chip shot, his problems must be mental. Meanwhile Tiger INC continues to spew out ‘gobbledygook’ for public consumption.

Mutt: Tiger isn’t the first to overcomplicate the game by trying to become a robot. Like many top golfers, he is an obsessed control freak but playing golf is as much about balance, timing, rhythm and feel as technique. Tiger’s problems around the greens won’t be corrected by changing what he calls swing patterns.

Jeff: How many times are we told that golf is played between the ears? Whether he recognizes it or not, Tiger is engaged in a battle that has sent thousands of top players over a cliff to their golfing demises. If golf can break down the likes of Tiger Woods, it can destroy anyone. His physical problems stem from his mental problems and how he not only sees himself but knowing how others see him. It never mattered before if he missed a shot - he only sought a way to win. He only thought of himself as the best. Now, he is unsure. Suddenly, he is fallible. Fearless young guns like Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth are pushing him aside.

Mutt: He now has the chipping and putting yips to go alongside a long-term tendency to yips with the driver - not a good combination. I’m not sure if Tiger’s head is gone because his body is gone or vice versa. He did much of the self-damage in the gym. His back is tight and his knees are weak. When you are mired in a deep slump - playing a limited schedule won’t help you to escape. You have to play your way out of a slump. If, you are fixated by ‘perfection’ - it’s a big handicap. Too many swing changes may have frazzled Tiger’s brain. He is a very old 39 who probably feels like 59 - a recipe for retirement.

Jeff: It’s a shame he did not love the game for the game’s sake and try to connect with his fans more. He needs their understanding and empathy now. Unfortunately, all he ever cared about was winning and setting records. I’m sure that Tiger will be distraught if his career ends like this. While he may not care what people think of him, he certainly cares about what they think of his golf game and his career record.

Mutt: Bad behavior off the golf course, too much heavy gym work and paralysis by analysis are to blame. Tiger is bamboozled by incomprehensible coaching jargon and has lost his creativity and feel. Soon, the game will stop revolving around Tiger and begin concentrating on the next generation instead.

Jeff: Does that mean you agree he is finished?

Mutt: It’s looking that way. Even if he does recover, he’ll never be the undisputed No. 1 again.

Words of the Wise:

The poetic temperament is the worst for golf. It dreams of brilliant drives, iron shots laid dead, and long putts holed, while in real golf success waits for him who takes care of the foozles and leaves the fine shots to take care of themselves - Walter Simpson