Let me start by admitting that I am not a Tiger "fan" - there is no denying he is a dominant presence, and probably the best ever, but he's not someone I root for. It's kind of like cheering for the Yankees or the Patriots - it's easy to be a fan because they are almost guaranteed to win. I'm more of a Raiders and A's fan...I suppose I like some uncertainty with those whom I cheer for...
We've all heard about (and witnessed) what a fierce competitor that Tiger is. More specifically, we often hear that he "never quits" and is "always playing to win" - contrary to some PGA players who,once they know they are out of contention, seem to play it safe.
Anyway, enough background info - this post is about a real life experience. I am a decent golfer,but will never be a real low handicapper. My handicap fluctuates between 8 and 12, depending on the season and my iron game. I've been playing competitively for about a year (thanks TGC Amateur Tour), so no one would ever suggest that my competitive edge is as finely honed as a well stropped razor. Generally, I play hard because I want to do well, but certainly accept my shortcomings with good humor. What follows is a story about how I learned what "Tiger Golf" really means to us mere mortals.
Last week, I was playing golf with some buddies - we were playing cart vs cart, and our team won the front nine (and the small wager) by a couple of strokes. I was low man by 3 strokes, with a 40. At the turn, on of my colleagues suggested he and I play straight up on the back nine with a small side bet. I gladly accepted, eager for a little individual challenge (note that I bested him by 4 strokes on the front). My pal, let's call him "Phil", started the back nine like a man afire - 5 under after 4 holes, and no putts of more than 8 feet. As I found myself 8 strokes down after 4 holes...I was thinking that I had been completely set up. So what did I do ? Did I suck it up, and focus ? Draw upon my enormous intestinal fortitude ? Will myself to mount a comeback ?
Not exactly.... I conceded the bet, effectively giving up after 4 holes (impressive,huh ?). I then proposed a second bet match play for the final 5 holes, which he (obviously) accepted, as this looked like a sure thing for him. Then, something funny happened - I hit it to 4 feet on a par three and he went over the green and into some tall grass. I birdied, and he triple bogeyed (we continued to play as if it were stroke play, because the team bets were still on). Two holes later, I had won three in a row, and thus won the second bet (3 and 2). We then agreed on a THIRD bet - stroke play for the last two holes. I went up one stroke on 17, and we were both in the fairway on 18. I pulled my approach left, while he was just short of the green. At the end, he had a four footer for par, which he missed - while I made my 8 footer for a bogey, and the win.
Now for the moral of the story, and the entire point of this post. When I tallied up the final totals for the back nine, and circled the final scores, I was rather violently reminded of all those times I had heard about Tiger "never giving up". You see, I had beaten "Phil" by one stroke...meaning that I would have won the ORIGINAL BET, if only I had not given up after 4 holes...
I think that's what they mean by "Tiger Golf".... . As obvious as this all may seem to those seasoned competitors out there, it was a very enlightening and powerful lesson to me.