Monday, April 04, 2011

My Open Letter To Tiger Woods

It’s Masters Week again – and all eyes are on the happenings at Augusta National Golf Course.

I love this weekend – if I could, I would hang little yellow flags and green jackets on the trees and bushes in my front yard.

But this year, I feel I just have to write an open letter to my favorite golfer – Mr. Tiger Woods.

Dear Mr. Woods,

I say this with all the sincerity I can muster.

It’s very hard to watch you play this way. The way you’re playing at this time.

It’s like watching somebody that looks like you. Red shirt and black pants and Nike cap. But it’s not the Tiger Woods that changed the way golf is played or the way golf is watched.

I’m sure you’ve had your fill of advice from know it all fans, and perhaps you may simply write me off as another. I hope not.

But if I may, please don’t approach this weekend thinking that you have something to live up to. Instead, approach this weekend again as the next opportunity to show everyone how great you still are. Expect every drive to be longer than anybody else. Expect every time you find yourself in the trees that there will be another occasion to show off how incredible you are at turning trouble into opportunity.

Every amazing shot I ever watched you hit – you hit because you knew that you were going to hit it.

You need to know that again. You need to believe in yourself again.

Masters Win 2005
Perhaps you could gain some inspiration from watching the highlight reels of your own play. Highlight reels of your first Masters win, your first British Open win at St. Andrews, your US Open win at Pebble Beach. And while you watch yourself – pretend you are not that guy on the screen. Imagine you’re a fan – a guy like me – watching a guy like you – who after watching you – has to grab his golf clubs and head to the range to try to hit like you.

Then pretend to be you.

Because I know you’re still in there Tiger.

Put everybody else out of your mind. Everyone but your Caddy.

Perhaps you could start scoring your rounds differently. Instead of counting over / unders – count high fives, hand slaps, knuckle punches and fist pumps.

Play for fun again. Play to show off again. Play for the love of playing again.

You do not owe golf anything. You have paid your dues to golf like few others ever have. And golf owes nothing to you – as you have reaped rewards from golf the greatest from years gone by cannot imagine.

Your slate with golf is clean. Your debt to fans is paid and up to date.

You don’t owe anybody a damned thing. And nobody owes you.

But you owe yourself the chance to fulfill your mission – perhaps it is to hold the most Majors in a career. But I think your personal mission is to beat everybody you play against – every time you play against them. Simple and plain.

And unyielding.

Just do it.

Do it for the passion you had as a kid. Be that kid again. Find that kid again inside you.

I know I can’t imagine what you have been through this past 18 months. I can’t fathom it one iota – whatever an iota is.

You’re too damn good to simply be content to be a middle of the pack player. The guy who makes the cut to play the weekend only to finish tied for 19th. But unless you somehow change your mindset – the Sunday announcers will reduce every great shot you hit in the future to be “glimpses of the Tiger Woods of old”.

If that passion is lacking, if golf isn’t fun anymore, if that kid inside you really did grow up and is now lost to you well, that’s a different story.

If you find that you cannot put all that has happened behind you soon and move on – and get your head back to the level of focus you had before – get your intensity back to the level that only you could find – well, I would like to offer the suggestion that … well …

Then Tiger, it pains me deeply to say – it’s time to hang it up.

With all due sincerity, I’ll be rooting for you Tiger. Me and a gazillion other golf fans just like me.

We’re still out here too.

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