It's Not the Where or When, But the 'How' of Tiger Woods That Matters

Will LeivenbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2010

Video interviews, blogs, and news articles continue to exacerbate the question of where and when Tiger Woods will return.
Some say the Tavistock would be best because he will be in his comfort zone with O’Meara around. Others think Woods’ past success at Arnie’s Tournament would suit his return better.

Perhaps the Masters would benefit him more because the media coverage will be strict and not as much of a circus.

Honestly, I am not concerned with the where or when—I am concerned with the How of Tiger. How will his game look? His putting? Driving? Irons? Short game?

Don’t forget that Tiger would often strike the golf ball and before it had even reached its highest point in the air he and his caddy have already begun walking because Tiger knew exactly where the ball would land—five feet from the cup.

What about his patented club twirl? We have seen it countless times, but the most memorable for me was this past year when he was paired with Jim Furyk at the President’s Cup.

Sitting 229 yards away from the hole, ball below his feet, Tiger loaded up and hit the purest cut, four-iron to eight feet from the hole. Sure, the shot itself was incredible, but watch his reaction right after striking the ball:

As one of the commentators put it after Tiger’s shot, “His game is like a Michelangelo painting.”

All of this—his dominance over his competition—is a product of his unparalleled mental game.

This is a guy who would speak in press conferences about how he wouldn’t enter a tournament unless he knew he could win. That’s not just confidence: it's pompous.

But things are different now, are they not? His image, brand-name associations, and overall character are viewed by the world from a totally new perspective.

So I wonder—is he also looking at the world through new eyes? And if so, can he find a way to maintain his unmatched golf game, while reinventing himself? Or, will everything be affected by his transformation?

This recent superabundance of questioning as to where and when he will compete again a reflects how the public expects Tiger to forever be the greatest golfer in the world, and perhaps ever.

I think whenever and wherever he does return is inconsequential. Instead, how he plays, deals with pressure, bad lies, hard winds, wet rough, and the countless obstacles of the golf course will be a test to see if he truly is impervious to his past transgressions and time off from professional golf.