Swing thoughts: Dear Tiger…

By Theo Bezuidenhout

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PG5 - Woods-847-RedingtonTrust that my letter finds you well. Firstly, pity about missing out on the
FedEx Cup playoffs but there is always next year. Secondly, you do not
know me and no, I am not your greatest fan either but I am what one would
call an interested party.

See, your presence in golf and how you have built your career has made it possible for guys like me (a sport psychologist, thank you for asking) to exist in the game. I have also over the last couple of years fielded more questions about what my advice to you would be than any other question pertaining to my field. It is very flattering indeed to think that people value my opinion but more importantly and more vexing is that you cannot seem to get it right on Sunday so much anymore?

Thus in the spirit of the great game and in trying to make sure that golf remains as popular as it is on TV, in a large part thanks to you, I offer the following advice. The advice is free so apply as you see fit.

1. Stop surrounding yourself with “Yes Men”
I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed your set of DVD’s and the interviews with you and your father. I get goose bumps thinking about some of the content and your dad saying: “Let the legend grow”. Something that struck me every time I watched those discs with clients (and sometimes on my own I have to admit) is that your dad seemed to be a guy who would give it to you straight.

No surprise there, being a military man of course, but I think your bond was built on a mutual respect and understanding that he would tell you the truth. Even if the truth wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

So it is quite disheartening to see whom you have surrounded yourself with lately. If a man is known by his friends, I’m worried about you Tiger. Do not get me wrong Mark Steinberg, your agent, has done a great job of getting you through a major PR minefield with the Elin thing (sorry, I won’t mention it again). However, is he really giving you the best advice on your life, finances and career?

Or do you think, in the smallest possible way, you have become a bit of an ATM machine like another great Muhammad Ali became to his overinflated “support staff” at the end of his career? You should rather have a chat to Michael Jordan or Oprah but then again they might tell you something you don’t want to hear.

2. Caddie
Tiger I realise that when you are done with someone you are done. You got rid of that Father Christmas looking fellow so quickly his reindeers’ heads must still be spinning. Not even to speak of how you fired Stevie but your latest one must be the worst move you have made in terms of support staff.

All due respect to Joe LaCava, but he ain’t no Steve Williams. I do understand that you want someone to fly under the radar and that Stevo, like some of his Antipodean brothers, can get a bit boisterous. However he has a better record than anyone ever to carry a bag. Does that count for nothing?

I don’t know if you are aware but he is doing very well in retirement and it will probably cost you a pretty penny to get him back. On the plus side though I think you will get bang for your buck and some of that All Black presence. Something you are in dire need of watching you lately. Otherwise there is also that lady that used to caddie for Nick. She knows a thing or two about the game, I’ve heard.

3. Coach
Now here is the elephant in the room. Tiger, I have to tell you, of everything you have done, this has perplexed me the most. You have had so many swing coaches they could put a revolving door on your mansion in Florida and to what end? Your swing with Butch may have been a bit across the line or whatever but who cares, you won the friggin’ Masters and eight majors like that!

Then you gave Hank a go and I think he really did try his utmost with what you gave him and things were not bad at all. However, since then, you have fallen back into the trap of getting people to tell you what you want to hear.
I can hear your fans saying that with Chris Como your swing and performances have been much better but here is the issue: “much better” these days is 13th or 14th? In my opinion, there are only two ways to get back to where you were. Either you send Butch a biltong basket to make up and hear what he is doing next week or you start doing it yourself completely.

As a little birdie has told me lately this is the path you want to go and I have no problem with that. At least then try to get some trust and natural feeling back into it instead of diluting everything into percentages and degrees. If all else fails, give Henrik a ring. I heard his sport psychologist blindfolded him and forced him to hit wedges to regain his trust in his skills just before he won again. I am sure Jesper Parnevik has his number (you know the one that introduced you to Elin)?

So Tiger, I trust that you will take my advice in the spirit I have intended it. I for one have enjoyed the “rivalry” between the Irish lad and the nice fellow from Texas but we all know that you add something to our lives. Even if some of us admit it begrudgingly.

Regards
A True golf Fan

Theo Bezuidenhout
www.theobezuidenhout.co.za
@TheoGolfPsych
www.facebook.com/TheoBezuidenhoutConsulting
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