Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Will Tiger Play?

For the most part I've avoided Tiger talk, simply because it's been run into the ground. While I don't like what Tiger did any more than anybody else does, sometimes people screw up (pun intended) really badly. It's part of being human. Like I said early on, this doesn't necessarily mean Tiger has no character; rather, how he handles what happens next will tell us what kind of character he has. I'm not going to belabor that point.

However, since he's announced his comeback, the question of how he -- and whoever is paired with him -- will play at the Masters has begun to come up, and I do have a couple of thoughts on that. And since those thoughts might have some value for your own weekend play, I thought I'd toss 'em out there for your consideration.

We all know why Tiger picked the Masters -- it'll be much harder for the paparazzi to get to him there. He'll have to deal with them eventually, but just going public again will be hard enough. At least this way he'll avoid being hit by everything at once. That's one thing in Tiger's favor. When you're playing in stressful circumstances, do what you can to minimize the number of things you have to deal with. You'll improve your chances of success.

How Tiger will deal with everything else is up in the air but -- and I don't mean this in a cruel way, but it's true -- he made his own bed, and as Stewart Cink (I think) said, he'll just have to man up and deal with it. Sometimes you just have to admit that you've got a tough row to hoe, then settle down and play the game. It is just a game, after all; don't lose track of that fact.

The real question mark is his playing partner. How will he do?

I'm not so sure his partner will have it as bad as everybody thinks. I think the fans will be sympathetic to his partner, and try to make it easier for him. In fact, the few at Augusta who might behave badly toward Tiger will probably want his partner to beat him, and so will be much nicer to him. I suspect the biggest problem his partner will have -- given that some guys, like Bubba Watson, have already said they would love to play with him -- is being too excited about getting to play in a historic round. Part of the key to success when you get the chance of a lifetime is enjoying the moment and focusing on the job at hand rather than getting caught up in your surroundings. That can be difficult, but it's not impossible.

Ok, that was three things. But hopefully that's the last I'll have to say about Tiger until we get some actual gameplay to talk about. I'm really looking forward to that. And in case you're wondering, I don't think Tiger will win... but I think he might post a top 10. That will probably be a victory for him, given what he's gonna have to deal with...

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