A Tiger Loses His Mojo

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is a prime example of someone who had built an extraordinary amount of power based on his skill and accomplishments—and then lost much of it overnight when the world learned of a critical character flaw.  Born in 1975 in Cypress, California, he was a child prodigy in golf, which he began playing at age two.  In 1978, he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, putting against comedian Bob Hope.  At three, he shot a 48 for nine holes at the Navy Golf Club in Cypress, and at age five he appeared on an ABC television program (That’s Incredible) and was featured in Golf Digest.  When he was just six years old, he shot his first birdie.  At eight, he won the Junior World Golf Championship in the ages 9-10 division, an event he won five more times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991.  At fifteen, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and was Golf Digest’s Player of the Year.  Subsequently, he was named Golf World Player of the Year multiple times, Golf World Man of the Year, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year—all before he turned twenty-two.

He turned professional in 1996 and was the youngest person to win The Masters, which he won by a record 12 strokes.  In 1997, he rose to the number one ranking in the world of professional golf and was named PGA Player of the Year.  Before he turned thirty, he had achieved more than fifty tournament victories, another PGA record.  In this highly competitive sport, Tiger Woods had risen faster than any player in history.  He is only one of five professionals to have won all four major golf championships (a Career Grand Slam), which he has done more than once.  Before his professional career ends, Woods could become the greatest player in the history of the game, eclipsing Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, and the legendary Jack Nicklaus.

Like Michael Jordan (American basketball great), Fu Mingxia (Chinese Olympic diving champion), Pelé (Brazilian soccer star), and Stein Eriksen (Norwegian alpine skiing pioneer), Woods is a person of modest background who has accomplished what few others have based on prodigious talent and determination.  Without question, Woods was unusually gifted as a child.  He was born with extraordinary athletic ability and an aptitude for golf, and he had parents, particularly a father, who nurtured, encouraged, and supported him as he developed that gift.   In this, he is like Mozart, another child prodigy, who began playing the clavier at age three, was playing minuets flawlessly at four, and composed his first pieces of music at five.  But talent, undeveloped, is like a seed that never germinates.  What helped Tiger Woods develop exceptionally high power was his focus, discipline, and mental toughness, as well as the victories, awards, and public recognition that resulted from the determined application of his talent.

Then in spectacularly public fashion he became the butt of late-night comedians’ jokes and shocked both the world of sports and the world in general  when it was revealed that he’d had multiple affairs with a string of women, including prostitutes and porn stars.  Woods had been called one of golf’s most charismatic players, as well as one of its most marketable.  He was likeable and soft spoken; modest, especially by world-class athlete standards; and generous.  He often said that one of the things his father taught him was to care and share.  From all appearances, he was of sound character, a loving father and devoted husband to his beautiful Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, a former model.  Before the revelations of his reckless philandering, Woods was one of the most revered and powerful people in sports.  His meteoric fall from grace shows what can happen when the public perceives that someone who’d been held in such high esteem is shown to have deep character flaws. 

When this Tiger lost his reputation, he also lost his mojo.  Since returning to golf, he has played miserably, given his former prowess at the game.  No doubt he’s suffering from numerous distractions as he tries to rebuild his life and his name.  In time, he may rise to the level of his former game, but it’s doubtful that he will ever regain his reputation and the amount of power he once had.  Whenever people write about Woods in the future, there will always be those stories of him and his bevy of playmates seeking their fifteen minutes of fame by proclaiming on national television, “I slept with Tiger Woods.”

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