Tiger Woods’ biggest contribution to golf is that he has taken its popularity to the next level, and which in turn has set the cash registers ringing.
Undoubtedly, after Arnold Palmer, it is he who can be credited with starting a revolution. By this I mean the concept of physical fitness that he brought with him.
He taught the world that among the benefits of working out regularly was the strength to get the ball out of the rough! This and many other things, Tiger has set a few bars for the others to try and reach.
An event featuring Tiger has a different buzz, and there may be people who might grudge the aura around him, but we have to give it to him, he’s earned it.
A pointer would be to the shots he delivers under pressure. Not one to give up, he gives it all he has to every shot, and delivers, and that sets him apart, other than his patience.
Be it the Masters, World Golf Championships (Doral and Shanghai) or the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, I’ve had the chance to play with Tiger on a number of occasions, and he’s always come across as one of the decent guys.
His conduct is exceptional and he mixes very well with his co-players. My latest brush with Tiger was in Dubai (Desert Classic) last week, and we met and exchanged notes at the driving range.
I was particularly touched when he congratulated me at the (2012) British Open on my win at the Scottish Open the week before. He needn’t have done that, after all he’s extremely busy and taking time out to follow other guys showed another aspect of his personality.
Other than this, there have been numerous times when he’s made it a point to congratulate me whenever I’ve played well.
Injury or loss of form, all athletes go through phases, but we have a saying on the tour, ‘you can’t keep a good player down for very long’.
Tiger also went through such a period (referring to his personal problems in 2009) but that he emerged stronger than ever before is testimony to his mental strength and patience.
We are a country of more than a billion people and watching Tiger play today will be an inspiration to many a budding golfer, who’ll be jostling for space at the Delhi Golf Club. Who knows, one among them can go on to become the next golfing superstar.
Of late, I’ve had more than my share of injuries, and Tiger has always had a word or two say when we’ve met.
Love for golf
Last week at Dubai was no different, as I was playing with a troublesome right index finger and shoulder. As expected, our conversation at the driving range inevitably meandered towards my injuries.
“You should cut down on the number of tournaments, that’s the reason you’re getting injured. When will you learn,” he asked.
I laughed and said, ‘never’. Golf’s an addiction and I can’t stay away from it for long.
The writer is a multiple winner on the European, Japan and Asian Tour