Golf Psychology: Tiger Woods – The Comeback?

He was bulletproof. A giant of the game. King of the golfing world. Immune from weakness. Striking fear into the hearts of his opponents with his mental strength. Tiger Woods was a true trailblazer.

He set the tone for others to follow. He changed how players physically and mentally prepared for tournaments. But that was then. Tiger’s game is currently no longer good enough to compete on the professional tour. Is it over for good for Tiger Woods or is the great American comeback around the corner?

When you have been as good as Tiger was, the greatest challenge is the mental one. How do you cope with not feeling bulletproof? How do you deal with the decline of awesome invincibility? How do you handle simply being just another tour player?

The aura that Tiger would exude as he stormed to titles on Majors Sunday, was his currency. He won the big tournaments so often, because others players feared and respected him so much.

Tiger’s biggest challenge over the last five years, is that it looks like he has been trying too hard to find that perfect element in his game. Too much tinkering. Too much desire for perfection. For the state of perfection is what he probably associates with his Major winning years of glory. But in doing so, he has lost his feel. His touch. And thus his magic.

The desire to achieve perfection leads to a need to have control over every part of your game. And too much control negates feel. A golfer without feel loses flow and ends up over-thinking their game. The worse their game becomes, the more tinkering occurs and thus even more feel is lost. And so their game become hard-work.

When you have been the best player, perhaps ever, then this feeing is very difficult to live with. You feel vulnerable. No longer bulletproof, you yearn for just one more day when everything falls back into place.

For Tiger Woods to take the comeback to greatness, he has to ditch the tinkering and the never ending search for perfection. And focus excusively on his feel; his touch; his creativity. The ability to use his imagination to shape shots. Get back to that high state of trust that was natural at his peak. But which has been lost in the search for renewned excellence.

Tiger’s greatness was based on the feeling inside himself about himself. Not a perfect game. He drew on his own powerful sense of self imbued in him from an early age. And to rediscover that comes not from pushing for the perfect swing. But by accepting where he is now, and trusting his golfing insights, intelligence and strategic brilliance. He hasn’t lost these intrinsic mental qualities. Just his ability to trust them. And of course, not trying to out-Rory, Rory. But trusting his own path. His own golfing intelligence.

The great Tiger Woods comeback is possible, if he is physically up to it. But it means accepting his flaws and playing the game again with a mood and feel, that comes from a man who longer has anything to prove and simply wants to touch that awesome feeling of unity between the player and the golf course. He was once blessed by the golfing gods. But right now, the gods can no longer find their muse.

Posted in Golf Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.