Tiger Woods slayed Torrey Pines South over the weekend, winning the Farmer's Insurance Open today by a landslide to claim his 8th golfing championship on the famed La Jolla, Calif., ocean-side course. Not only is Woods winning on the golf course, but recent reports hint he may also be 'back on track' in terms of his personal life, and is apparently dating ski-racer and Olympic gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn.
Is Woods really back to form? Do improvements in one's personal life equate to good results on the golf course? It would seem to make perfect sense, especially in a game like golf where the mental is often more powerful than the physical.
Bigger questions remain, however: is America ready to forgive Woods after his epic media fail in 2009? Can he climb the ladder of respectability again in the media's eyes by winning again? Is all forgiven if he breaks Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships? Does personal stability and dating a seemingly 'good girl' like Vonn legitimize him again with the American public? And finally, when did Woods become a skier?
Before Woods turned professional he conducted a radio interview with Sports Byline USA, the sound bites from which reveal a young, immature and somewhat idealistic man. This was Woods before he was a human corporation; prior to multi-million dollar endorsement deals with Nike, American Express and all of those other companies that jumped on his bandwagon when he was winning majors, but then promptly dumped him when he had personal problems. Not that money ever mattered to Woods, right?
During the archived interview with Sports Byline host Ron Barr Woods ironically stated:
Money is just something there that comes from a product of what I do. My thing is, I'd rather become a better person than receive the money. That's why I chose to go to Stanford and I will graduate from Stanford.
Young men on a path to greatness can hardly predict what challenges lie ahead, many of which don't relate to the very thing that made them famous in the first place. Perhaps they started with good intentions, but managed to lose their way because of attention, adulation and financial freedom?
Temple University psychologist Frank Barley stated in an interview with USA Today that powerful men, "tend to believe they control their destiny or fate. The risk-taking personality has a bold quality. It's at the heart of great leadership, and sometimes it overrides what many Americans would call common sense."
Most of us can't relate to the powerful and famous. We watch them from afar and assume a familiarity with them without actually knowing them, setting ourselves up for disappointment when they turn out to be human and have problems just like the rest of us.
For example, did you know that Woods has been dealing with back and knee pain since he was a kid? Or that he has worked with a sports psychologist since he was a teen because his brain is simply too active to succeed on a golf course without some form of therapy?
Tiger could be back, both personally and professionally. Let's all do the adult thing and welcome him back and assume he has learned from his past mistakes and has taken the time to reflect on who he was prior to the fame. If Vonn has accepted his metamorphasis, why shouldn't the rest of us?