Another major championship has come and gone, and it was another major disappointment for Tiger Woods. At the U.S. Open held at Chambers Bay outside of Seattle, Woods ballooned with an opening round 80 followed by a 76 on Friday and was cut from play for the weekend. It's the icing on the cake of what's been a year filled with major struggles. Now officially ranked 205th in the world, what's really going on with Tiger Woods?
Some people say perhaps it was the injuries and the back surgery that did him in. Others like to blame his physical game. Take for example these stats that show just how awful Woods' performance was at The U.S. Open:
- Hit 16 fairways, tied for 145th
- Hit 21 greens in regulation, tied for 128th
- Needed 73 putts in two days (a little over two a hole), tied for 151st
- Only three birdies over two rounds at Chambers Bay
- Averaged 297.5 yards off the tee, tied for 104th
As a former professional athlete myself, and after working with top amateur and professional athletes in many different sports on the mental aspects of performance for more than 30 years, I'm convinced there's a lot more going on with Tiger Woods. In fact, there's nothing physical about it. It's a mental health problem and everything I see points to depression.
To set the record straight, I have not personally worked with or evaluated Tiger Wood. Furthermore, I am and have been one of the biggest Tiger Woods' supporters out there. I predicted his last comeback on national TV on The Golf Channel, but I'm not going to do that this time. Offering all the solutions and 'fixes' in the world is meaningless at this point because there's something more serious going on. Tiger needs real professional help.
Like I do with the athletes I personally coach, I have reviewed the tapes and footage of Tiger's last few rounds. When we study the mental aspects of performance, I'm looking at the things other people aren't looking for: his emotional state, body language, how he struts across the fairway, his glare at the gallery, composure in a number of situations, facial language and more. And when you compare the footage from today to that of 10 years ago, sadly it's night and day. Everything about Tiger's outer appearance is telling me he's suffering on the inside. And not just suffering a little bit; he's an emotional shipwreck. This is hurting at a very serious level that has brought me to the conclusion that Tiger Woods might very well be suffering from depression and needs professional help.
I know that Tiger has the physical talent - even at 39 years old - to compete with the Rory McIlroys and Justin Spieths of the game. I know he is capable of breaking the all-time major championship record held by Jack Nicklaus. But again, physical talent and simply 'finding his game' isn't the answer this time. Before Tiger can once again become the great Tiger Woods that we all know and love, Tiger needs help - and not the kind of help that can come from another new swing coach, workout routine or new putter - but real professional help.
Tiger's former swing coach, Butch Harmon, said, "He looks like a lost soul out there."
Quite honestly, none of this is surprising. For the longest time Tiger Woods was immortalized as a God in the golfing world. So imagine what it feels like when everyday another story appears in the press bashing the heck out of him. One minute he's a living legend and now everyone's beating up on the guy. That kind of love/hate relationship is enough to drive people over the edge when it's a private matter, so is it really surprising that Woods is spiraling out of control with all the questions, speculation and public chatter constantly following him around?
The game of golf needs Tiger Woods. But right now, Tiger Woods needs to stay as far away from professional golf as possible. If he is indeed battling depression like I believe he is, Tiger Woods need to get help. He needs to rebuild his life first and put golf second. The foundation of everything we do begins with being at peace with ourselves. I sincerely hope Tiger Woods can become at peace with himself again.