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Spotlight Deservedly on Rory but Don't Forget About the Tiger

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The golfing spotlight is back on Rory McIlroy and rightfully so. The 25-year-old Irish lad put on a stellar performance that left him holding the coveted Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon, and put to rest any doubts that he has emerged from his recent slump. That slump was due to a number of issues from changing management companies, equipment issues and of course, the widely publicized split from tennis great Caroline Wozniacki.

"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning, it's what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer I can be."

Rory is back because he's having fun again. One of the most closely-held secrets of world-class performers is how much fun they have in what they do. Outsiders see big-time performers as super self-disciplined, self-sacrificing, success-and-achievement machines. Yet a closer look gives a more accurate portrayal of what really drives these people: fun. Champions have more fun in their work than any other group. They take whaterver time is necessary to choose a path that encompasses their natural talents, abilities, and, most of all, their passions. The pros like Rory McIlroy are highly disciplined, of course, yet their core drive and mental fortitude seem to come from the pure fun, excitement, enjoyment and exhilaration of their work. While average people go to work and plod through the day, champions go to work and have fun.

Rory McIlroy is back in the game because he found that passion again, he's having fun and he's enjoying himself again. At this rate, there's no telling what he can accomplish. Can he be the sixth professional golfer ever to capture the career grandslam and join an elite list of names like Nicklaus, Woods, Hogan, Player and Sarazen? He most certainly can.

"I'm looking forward to next April and driving down Magnolia Lane," McIlroy said, "and trying to complete the career Grand Slam."

As legendary football player Joe Namath said, "When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun, and when you have fun, you can do amazing things."

Don't Write Off The Tiger

Tiger Woods was back at the Open Championship, and while many weren't surprised by his rusty play and 6-over par finish after coming off major back surgery earlier this year, it appears we could be entering another "write off the Tiger" era. Rich Lerner of the Golf Channel tweeted, "About to enter the "world is writing Tiger off" stage of his career. They did Jack and he won 2 majors at 40. Greatness doesn't die easily."

Lerner is right: greatness doesn't die easily. Some people will persist until they become uncomfortable. Others will persist until it becomes painful. But world class performers like Tiger Woods never say die. If you don't think Tiger Woods will surpass Jack Nicklaus and win more major championship titles by the time his career is over, think again. Failure to manifest this ultimate dream is not an option. Woods will do it or die trying. The mantra the great ones like Tiger Woods love to espouse is, "Whatever it takes." Champions are masters of self-denial, suffering and sacrifice.

If you need further proof that Woods isn't done, just look at the comments he made this weekend. Before teeing off at the British Open, just back from back surgery and asked how he expected to finish the tournament, he said, "First. That's always the case."

Tiger made his share of mistakes this weekend, but give the guy a break: he's been out of competition for three months. Just like the people who wrote Woods off after his personal life came into the public spotlight a few years ago were dead wrong, the naysayers will be eating their words when he's back on top of the golfing world. After all, Woods is only 38 years old, and has plenty of time left to write the greatest story in golfing history.

The great ones like Tiger Woods are always pushing. Boldness is so prevalent in champions because their belief system keeps telling them they're getting closer and closer, and a little more effort will do the trick. Adversity to world-class performers like Tiger Woods is his mental training ground. Make no mistake: he will be back atop the world of golf again.

As legendary coach Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is."

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