The Blog Squad

Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron-Willed Tiger

Is there any question now that Tiger Woods is the greatest ever? In any sport. Better than Ali. Better than Jordan. Better than Gretzky. Better than Aaron.

We are lucky to witness the greatest of all champions.

It was reported Wednesday that Tiger won’t play again this season because he will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He says he sustained the injury 10 months ago while jogging at home after the British Open.

He also suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia two weeks before last weekend’s U.S. Open. Doctors had advised him to skip the championship and rest six weeks to allow his fractures to heal.

And let’s not forget that he had arthroscopic surgery on April 15 to clean out cartilage in his left knee in hopes of completing the 2008 season. His recovery is expected to take six to eight months.

All of this and still he wins the U.S. Open in 91 holes, after playing an additional 18 holes Monday in a playoff against Rocco Mediate. He appeared to grimace after every drive and fairway shot in the five-day event.

Can any of us fathom the amount of pain he must have endured? What sort of mental power must one have to block out each bolt of hurt? It’s not even human.

Tiger has always been known for his tenacity and will to win. His 14th major victory takes that talent to another level.

Forget Tiger for a moment. Consider that the talent differential in golf from Phil Mickelson to the Country Club of Virginia pro is not staggeringly great. Not compared to say Kobe Bryant and Eric Maynor. Or Justin Verlander and the top pitcher for the University of Richmond.

There are a lot of really talented golfers. Really, really talented golfers. Many of them we don’t see on Sundays. What separates these guys is not usually talent, but mental toughness. It’s the ability to raise the level of your game when the situation dictates a clutch performance, no matter what the obstacles.

A torn ACL and two stress fractures would be ridiculous to ask anyone to overcome and compete let alone prevail. But that’s what Tiger did.

“He’s been playing way less than 100 percent for a long, long time,” his swing coach Hank Haney told the Associated Press. “It has limited him a lot in practice. He’s going to come back better than he’s ever been.”

Haney added that when doctors told Woods the preferred treatment for stress fractures was three weeks on crutches and three weeks of inactivity, “Tiger looked at the doctor and said ‘I’m playing in the U.S. Open, and I’m going to win.’ And then he started putting on his shoes. He looked at me and said, ‘Come on, Hank. We’ll just putt today.’”

OUT AT HOME: Since I moved to Richmond in 2005, I hadn’t found a job that I liked. One particular place made me so miserable that I considered working retail or fast food to just get away from the environment. But that changed in February when I found my current employer. I love this place, the work and the people. My advice to anyone who is not happy at work—life is too short. It’s not worth it. Find somewhere you will be appreciated and where you can do your best work.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: I love this comedian. She sounds exactly like a few of my relatives.


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