Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Why Tiger Woods lost his mojo

Published:Friday | February 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

With all that is happening in West Indies cricket, it's tempting to do another article on the subject, but I can't help homing in on arguably the greatest golfer of them all, Tiger Woods, and the troubles he has had since his sex scandal and subsequent divorce.

The world was shocked in 2009 when it was revealed that Tiger was cheating on his wife with a series of Caucasian women. He not only lost his wife, but it appears he has also lost his game. Since then, Tiger has not won a major.

He has now decided to take a break from the PGA tour indefinitely. Injuries and an apparent lack of focus have seen Tiger, now ranked at 62, the worst he has been since turning pro in the mid-1990s. He has decided to quit because "my play and scores are not acceptable for tournament golf". That was demonstrated when he shot 82 in the second round at Phoenix last week, his worst score as a professional on the PGA tour.

Those who understand the intricacies of golf will tell you that his technique is not what it used to be. Without being any expert myself, it's obvious that he isn't hitting as accurately and as long as before, and it is true that bad knees, a bad back, and a variety of other injuries have ensured that he isn't training as hard as he could.

It's impossible, however, not to see a link between his sex scandal, his failed marriage, and the way he is playing now. The truth is that, since his sex scandal, Tiger is now playing almost apologetically, as opposed to being the brash, cocky persona he was between 1996 and 2008.

All the great sportsmen operate with confidence being their greatest ally. You don't get to being the world's best in sports without telling yourself that you are 'the man'. You see yourself as superior to the opposition, and you step into the arena and prove it. That, more than anything else, is what Tiger has lost. He can't be as brash, because deep down he is still ashamed of what he has done and he can't shake the embarrassment that he suffered as a result.

Stripping The Façade

Tiger had portrayed himself as the squeaky-clean guy who happened to be the darling of the world. That was how he sold himself, and that is what the world bought. He would have survived if he was found to have a mistress somewhere. The world almost expects that of a healthy black man, but when dozens of women started appearing out of the woodwork, Tiger was stripped of the façade that he had so carefully built for himself.

He then claimed he had a "sex addiction". I'm not even sure what that means. Most human beings are addicted to sex. It's just that most of us do it with one person at a time (or at least pretend we are!). He then checked himself into rehab. Whoever heard of any man checking into rehab for giving his wife 'bun'?

That, of course, was funny. It's almost as if Tiger wanted the world to be sorry for him because he had some kind of 'disease'. Tiger would probably have been better off if he had said to the world, "Mind your own business! I am a red-blooded male who was doing what a lot of men would do if they had my fame and fortune, and that is to hook up with as many attractive women as I can get away with."

He couldn't do that because he had projected himself as being better than that. It was like catching a pastor in bed with the female members of the choir! Tiger was wrong to appear so embarrassed to the world. He didn't commit any crime a lot of other men wouldn't commit. The only apology he owed was to his wife.

So his game is gone for good. He may still win another major, but he will never be the same. Not because of age or injuries or technique, but because he is still ashamed. Greg Norman, himself a former number-one golfer, puts it best. "Well, just look at his body language. He doesn't keep his head up anymore, he's got his eyes down. He's trying to keep his eyes away from the camera right?"

Greg Norman is spot on. Tiger has lost his mojo because, deep down, he still can't get over the fact that his image has been tarnished. My advice to Tiger? Hold another press conference. Be cocky and arrogant again. Tell the world, "So what if I had legions of women? So what if I wasn't a one-burner." If he abandons his guilt complex, his game might improve immediately!

Orville Higgins is a sports journalist at KLAS ESPN FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.