by Jeff Skinner
As The Masters inches closer each and every golf fan has their opinion as to who their choice is to take home the green jacket. Tiger, Phil, Ernie, Paddy, Goose? Who will it be? It’s a tough question to answer but there is another question waiting to be answered and we won’t have to wait until Sunday afternoon to find out the answer: Which Tiger Woods will show up?
The Tiger Woods that has been walking the fairways of Augusta this week appears to be a different one from the cold-blooded hit man that has won four green jackets. We are used to seeing Tiger spend the entire week at Augusta and not crack a smile until he is slipping into the green jacket in the Butler Cabin. If Woods is truly trying to change his ways as he said in his press conference on Monday we should see a different player on Thursday when he tees off.
He has spent plenty of time on the course the last few days and he has interacted with the crowd which he normally does not do. Most of the time the old Tiger’s only dealings with the crowd was to look past them, have them help find his ball or move a boulder or two. This week he has waved and smiled to the fans and he even spent time signing autographs. Granted, he would have to sign autographs twenty four hours a day for the next few years to catch up with Phil’s total, but it’s a start. Woods has said he will try to be more respectful of the game. If that means he will try to stop tossing clubs and cursing out a bad swing, we should see that fairly soon on Thursday.
Is this a kinder, gentler Tiger Woods? He said all the right things and pushed all the right buttons during his press conference when it came to questions of his golf and his temperament. Yes, there were questions he avoided answering but as far as his state of mind and his “golf” he seemed straight forward. This could possibly be the most pressure Woods has felt on the course. He is certainly used to being the center of attention on the course but these past few months have been enough break any man even Woods.
If he truly believes “it isn’t about championships…it’s about the way you live your life” this week will be his first opportunity to prove it. He can’t afford to lose any of his competitive fire but if he is actually more comfortable with his life and himself he’ll be able to play a freer, more relaxed game and that could mean more trouble for the field.
Will it be a “new Tiger” we see this week? We’ll have to wait and see but one major tournament does not constitute any change. The changes Tiger says he is making will be seen over the course of the season, both on the course and off. If he is true to his recent words he can still win plenty of championships but at the same time concentrate on “how you live your life.”