“If you play this game long enough, eventually you will face some adversity. Its how you handle those days when the game gets mean and shows its ugly side that defines who you are as a competitor.” – Tiger Woods, How I play golf, p.207
Experts have explained that early sport diversification is linked to a longer sport career and has positive implications for long-term sport involvement (Côté, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009).
As noted in the article – The rise to be the greatest golfer of the 21stcentury, early sport specialisation will lead to overtraining injuries and psychological issues.
Tiger started at a young age and as experts have warned, his career could end at a younger age.
Tiger’s left knee has been a thorn by his side since adolescence. According to the PGA (2018), he has had multiple surgeries on his left knee to remove tumours, scar tissue, and cysts and to repair cartilage damage and a torn ACL.
In the last decade, Tiger has also had to deal with neck and back problems. The pain in his back has been intense and incessant. It led to surgery for a pinch nerve, another surgery to remove a disc fragment, a third back surgery for an unspecified reason, and a fourth surgery called spinal fusion.
Experts also warned that there could be psychological issues.
By his own admission, Tiger Woods is an introvert and introverts rarely open up and reveal themselves in public. Tiger was comfortable performing before fans where he had complete control over himself and his actions on the golf course.
In social situations, introverts feel less comfort and they hesitate to meet new people unless a valuable relationship can commence.
These points are crucial to understanding Tiger Woods and his longstanding reluctance to fully engage the media, for example. To him, there appeared to be very little value in engaging the media. However, he saw the value when he engaged sponsors and their endorsement opportunities.
While he was in complete control of himself on the golf course and in relation to endorsements, Tiger Woods tried to exert control of his social life and his relationships. For example, he used non-disclosure agreements to silence his partners. This strategy worked until the list of partners grew and made it impossible to fully control.
When news broke about his infidelity to his wife Elin Nordegren, the media were relentless and punitive towards his image. The damage cost him and the shareholders of his sponsors with one estimate pinning the cost between $5 and $12 billion.
The infidelity affected his image, prompting Tiger to state:
“I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.” Transcript (2010)
Tiger Woods had exceptional integrity on the golf course. Away from the course, the pressures were less intense, and he exuded less integrity in his social relationships. He had gained a false sense of security from his NDAs.
It is perhaps a normal reaction given the intense scrutiny faced on the golf course.
Côté, J., Lidor, R., & Hackfort, D. (2009). ISSP position stand: To sample or to specialize? Seven postulates about youth sport activities that lead to continued participation and elite performance. International journal of sport and exercise psychology, 7(1), 7-17.
Goldinger, D. (2009). Tiger Woods’ mistress scandal costs shareholders of sponsors like Nike, Gatorade $12 billion. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/tiger-woods-mistress-scandal-costs-shareholders-sponsors-nike-gatorade-12-billion-article-1.432269
PGA. (2018). Complete list of Tiger Woods’ injuries. Retrieved from https://www.pga.com/news/pga-tour/complete-list-tiger-woods-injuries
Image: By Tim Hipps, Special to American Forces Press Service, U.S. Army – http://www.defenselink.mil/; News Article: Tiger Woods Plans Fourth of July Weekend Treat for Troops; exact source for this file (cropped), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6873369