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The Symbol of Mental Willpower

That’s Tiger Woods, according to David Brooks. Well, who doesn’t admire Tiger? But I have to admit I was rooting for Rocco, who was just grateful to be there and never forgot that golf is a game for gregarious animals. Mediate’s skills (and 153 ranking!) don’t compare with Woods’, and he’s an old man to boot. But he still came roaring back on Monday and with any luck could have won. It was surely one of the greatest matches in the history of golf. (Thanks to Ivan the K.)

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There is something morbid in Tiger's relentless pursuit of winning the most majors.

We constantly hear about it, and it detracts from the joy that should naturally attend his triumphs.

It's difficult not to sense that Tiger's approach to the game is disturbing to the overall ethos of golf, which was, and supposedly still is, a gentleman's pursuit. There are certain things gentlemen don't do. It's something of a code, albeit unwritten, and all the more powerful for being unwritten. Gentlemen don't lose control, and certainly don't lose it in public. Gentlemen can take hard blows without loss of their composure, and can take bad news with a smile. The smile is forced to be sure, but it's the effort that counts. A gentleman maintains control of himself, even if being led to execution. Gentlemen keep a sense of wit, even in the most trying of situations.

The code also applies when comparing yourself to your peers, and when keeping scores. For instance gentlemen don't kiss and tell, and don't keep a running tally of the women they've railed, guys like Wilt Chamberlain might keep score, but then again, despite his college degree, he's not a gentleman.

The world of golf is a world that affects the code of the gentleman. So the code is important.

In the RFC, {Royal Flying Corps} the whole notion of a fighter pilot actually keeping score was "not done." It later became accepted, but mostly for propoganda purposes. And during the interwar years, that policy, which frowned upon keeping score, was resurrected within the RAF. Again that policy was discarded during the early years of the war, and again for the same reasons, id est, that aces made for good copy.

When the Golden Bear was racking up his victories, we never got the sense that Jack Nicklaus was on some dour quest for the most majors. He tried to win, as did Player, as did Watson. And though duels developed during a tournament, say between Palmer and Nicklaus, such duels never created the the grim earnestness that we see in Woods, and Woods doesn't even have a rival. Which begs the question, why all this intensity when Woods isn't even being challenged. Were Els and Woods locked in some duel for glory, it would be one thing, but that's not the case.

I'm a passionate guy, and I understand passion, {which explains a great deal of my disgust with Bush, and his whole governing style, --------- it offends me in a visceral manner}. But Woods has now taken competitiveness to an unhealthy extreme, at least for the world of golf. Were Woods a defensive back, in the New England secondary, that would be one thing. But he wanders out on to golf courses, at places like Saint Andrew's, which is altogether different from the gridiron.

And there doesn't seem to be anthing sportsmanlike about Woods' grim mood. Jack Nicklaus won when he won, and when he lost, he never behaved as Tiger did last year, which was well and truly bizarre. How can a guy like Woods, who has enjoyed the success that he has, begrudge another's triumph, as he did last year. How can we not detect something dark present in such bitterness and begrudgement. It's NOT healthy. Tiger's behavior last year was so bad, that the liberal sports pages, which can be counted on to rave over anything Tiger does, even they couldn't help notice how thoroughly devoid it all was of ordinary common decency.

I think it would have been for the best had Rocco won the other day.

Did you notice too that the announcers, Johnny Miller particularly, let slip out that guys like Jack and Watson are perturbed that the tour is rolling over for Tiger. And that's how they described it, the tour rolling over for Tiger, and that when Tiger is challenged, it usually happens by a relative nobody, and almost never by any of the top ranked players. If that's what they're saying on the air, rest assured that's what's really happening is that the best players of yesteryear are livid watching Woods roll effortlessly to victory after victory, while the rest of the tour is merely content to rake in endorsement deals and commercial contracts. When Watson and Nicklaus won, they defeated greats who were challenging them for the victory. When Woods wins, he only defeat Phil, who wanders around the course with some baby Hughey look on his face. Nobody is challenging Woods. Does anyone really think Woods would be racking up such victories had he been matched against Gary Player, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Palmer. Which of us believes that?

Woods' victories are becoming tainted, not by anything that he has done, or not done, but by the fact that the top ranked players of his day are mailing it in, taking the commercial deals, taking the endorsements, and not really fretting over winning tournaments, let alone majors. The problem with Tiger winning majors is now extending to the rest of tour play, where again, the mailing it in effect can be seen.

I think the top ranked players are too damn comfortable for their own good. And Woods seems to be the only guy who actually looks like he desires to win.

Notice too how Woods lacks that drive when it comes to team play, as in The Rider's Cup. Our Rider Cup team gets blown out because American top ranked Americans have lost their edge, and they've lost it because they're content to spectate, and mail it in. Woods looks like he's on Valium when it comes to Rider Cup, but when it comes to individual assertion, racking up majors, then he's the eye of the Tiger.

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