With all of the attention surrounding Tiger Woods' return to golf this week at The Masters, I'm surprised how little talk there has been about how he is actually going to play.
As our collective focus shifts from the gossip blogs to Tiger's 1:42pm tee time on Thursday, many seem to think he will be in contention over the weekend. As Andy North of ESPN said today, echoing the sentiments of many, "if he thinks he can win, ya know, it's hard to bet against him."
Tiger does indeed have a strong track record at Augusta and has successfully battled adversity in the past. Heck, when he drained that putt on 18 to force a playoff at Torrey Pines, he achieved otherworldly status in my book. Then there was the crash...
Those who predict that he will falter this week generally point to the obvious challenges: mental angst and a rusty golf game. While these are legitimate concerns, there is more to the story here. The old Tiger was nearly always able to compartmentalize distractions and dominate even with limited preparation before majors. But alas, this is not the same Tiger Woods we knew 6 months ago.
Tiger has lost his mojo
While his press conference Monday was upfront, honest and impressive in regard to his personal life, it also revealed a lot about his approach to the tournament. He confirmed that he just recently began practicing again, intimated that he'd be more subdued on the course, and said winning golf tournaments is "irrelevant compared to the damage I've caused".
Would Tiger have won his 14 majors if he had been more subdued on the course and outwardly diminished the importance of winning THE MASTERS?! I don't think so.
What if he hadn't been constantly sleeping with different women to feed his ego? Hmm....
Well, if Austin Powers can be taken literally, Tiger is in big trouble this week. Austin Powers' [Tiger Woods] mojo was the driving force behind him attracting women [hookers] and being a successful spy [golfer]. He thought Dr. Evil [the media] had stolen it until his true love, Felicity Shagwell [Elin Nordegren or Rachel Uchitel?], helped him realize that he really had his mojo all along.
This is where the comparison seems to end as neither of Tiger's true loves will be at Augusta to help him rediscover his mojo. If he's on the cut line Friday afternoon, maybe he'll get desperate and bring Joslyn James in from Atlanta to help get him over the hump.
Tiger is more likely to shoot over par than under this week and frankly I'd be shocked if he made the cut. I do think he can rediscover his mojo someday, but he is still reeling emotionally and must be experiencing some serious withdrawal from sexual activity...or is he?
I hope Tiger can turn his personal life around, but his ability to do so seems to be at odds with him excelling on the golf course. Like many, I will be torn while watching Tiger play this week, unsure whether I want to see the determined immortal or the humbled man no longer obsessed with dominance.
If, as I expect, I see the humbled Tiger Woods flounder around Augusta on Thursday and Friday, I will wonder: will he ever win again?