It was early in 2011 when The Golf Channel called and asked me to appear on Golf Central to discuss Tiger Woods. I predicted live on national television that Tiger would regain the number one world golf ranking again, a prediction that many people didn't agree with. The critics said Tiger was finished, and that his best days were behind him.
I knew all along that Tiger Woods would climb the ranks and regain the number one spot again. The reason is simple: a bet against a champion like Tiger Woods is always a bad bet. On the physical plane he has perseverance, on the mental plane he has toughness and on the spiritual plane he has artistry like no one else who has ever played the game of golf.
All things considered, Tiger's climb back to the top was a rather quick one. For most people to have their life turned upside down like Woods did, despite the fact that it was his own doing, would have been a major setback that they probably would have never recovered from. So the fact that it took Tiger less than five years to regain the number one spot is rather remarkable in itself.
I think there are two main reasons why Tiger faltered after the cheating scandal came crashing down. The first reason is because he wasn't at peace with himself. He wasn't satisfied with the human being he had become and this carried over into everything he did. Until he got the mental clarity back, there was no chance of him ever winning a golf tournament again.
The second reason I feel he took such a nosedive in the world of golf is because he temporarily lost the ability to compartmentalize his emotions. Tiger was notorious for not allowing one problem to bleed over into the next. Prior to that Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, when he was on the golf course he was focused on one thing: winning golf tournaments. He took it one hole at a time, one shot at a time and didn't let anything or anyone get in his way. He lost that ability after the scandal leaked, and it was obvious to everyone that his body was on the golf course but his mind was a million miles away.
After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational for a record-setting eighth time, Woods is now ranked number one again. Here's how he recaptured the world's top spot in golf:
Champions Know Adversity is The Catalyst of Mental Toughness
Champions believe if you remove the adversity, you remove the victory. As a result, they tend to view adversity as a challenge through which learning and growing occurs. While average people choose the path of least resistance, world-class performers operate at a higher level of awareness. They understand that stress and struggles are the key factors in becoming mentally tough. Adversity to average people equals pain. Adversity to world-class performers like Tiger Woods is his mental training ground. In the long run, the last few years will make him an even better competitor.
Champions are Comeback Artists
When Donald Trump was $9 billion dollars in debt in the early 90s, did you really believe he was washed up for good? How about Christopher Reeve? Did anyone really bet against him making an international impact to help people with spinal cord injuries, once he made the decision to? Professional performers know that large-scale success is based on a series of comebacks. They believe that setbacks are set-ups for comebacks. Amateurs often make the mistake of counting professionals out when things get tough, just like so many people did with Tiger Woods. Most people grossly underestimate the level of mental toughness that champions possess.
Champions know very good is bad
In order to ascend to the world-class, performers must be classified as 'great.' At the highest level of performance, very good is considered to be bad. There are lots of performers who are very good, but great performers are rare. Tiger started his comeback last year, having finally gotten tired of just being very good. He had a great 2012 season with three victories under his belt. And so far in 2013, he's off to a great start, with three victories already before any of the majors. Tiger Woods is great again, and Augusta National better watch out!
The great ones possess supreme confidence
When Tiger Woods' affairs leaked to the world, no doubt his confidence took a beating. The fastest way to skyrocket confidence is to change the language you use when you talk to yourself and others. Positive self-talk can literally change your life in 90 days if you really stick to it. You can reprogram your entire belief system just by changing the words you use when you talk to yourself. With all the negative press Tiger received and the way his world crumbled before his very eyes, developing a world-class positive self-talk was essential to getting him back in the right frame of mind. Tiger Woods had to make winning the only possibility in his mind, and this came through supreme confidence and self-talk. All champions know the power self-talk can have.
The next hurdle for Tiger Woods is to win another major championsip. It's been five years. For all who doubted he would ever be ranked the number one golfer again, take note: He will go on to win plenty more major championships, and he will break the record currently held by Jack Nicklaus who has 18 major championship titles. It's only a matter of time.