It’s Bay Hill, and it’s Tiger Woods in the lead. Fifty-four holes into the tournament, Tiger has the outright lead over Rickie Fowler by two strokes. Not insurmountable by any metric except one: When leading after 54 holes, Tiger Woods is 40-2.
In any other sport, that closing percentage would be remarkable. To do it in Golf is downright scary.
Tiger Woods was the golfing phenom everyone talked about. His game was impeccable, his career incredible. An Ambien-filled haze and ill-timed text message later, and Tiger’s mythic stature came crashing down, and with it the once-unwavering support of the couch-riding “majors-only” golf crowd.
A knee injury had been nagging at his game for months, then the very public scandal which depicted (and rightfully so) Woods as a cold-hearted, controlling, womanizing philanderer. The public relations machine in full overdrive ushered Tiger to the microphone for an apology.
The world received a robotic message that felt as void of emotion as his actions toward his family. Tiger was mad.
Golfing mad? Try to do anything in a bad mood, and you are likely to get bad results. Try golfing in a perpetual angry mood, and what you get is Tiger’s 2011 and 2012 campaigns. Disappointing and rant-filled.
Of course, injury and rehab played a role, but don’t be fooled. The anger and embarrassment of having his true personality being exposed was the power player here. A man who is meticulous about the approach to his game and his life lost his control over both simultaneously. This is not a man who "does" public relations, mainly because he feels he shouldn’t have to.
After all, he’s Tiger Woods.
Now in 2013, the "new" Tiger Woods is back atop the leaderboard at Bay Hill, having won three times already this year, he's poised to recapture the world No. 1 ranking. So what’s changed?
Tiger has regained that which he holds most dear. Control.
If you are scratching your head about his relationship with Lindsey Vonn, you shouldn’t be. He has mentioned they have been friends a long time, so they both know exactly what to expect; no guess-work.
The press release announcing their relationship? You better believe that was Tiger’s decision, one which puts himself in control of the situation, not the press.
The injury is all but healed up. Tiger is now back in his comfort zone, calling the shots in all aspects of his life and smiling ear to ear knowing, after his real private life was revealed and the storm blew over with relatively little aftermath, the best is still ahead.