Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tiger's Need for Humility

In the firmament of golf, no star shines brighter than that of Tiger Woods. He is not only one of the greatest golfers ever, it is likely that he will be regarded as the greatest to have played the game, a cut above even Jack Nicklaus. In terms of brilliance, concentration and the sheer will to win, Woods is nonpareil.

Which is why, as a fan, I flinch everytime he predicts that he will win this or that tournament. Given his recent string of wins, Woods predicted the Grand Slam in 2008 as within his reach. Surely he is the favorite everytime he plays but as a fan I wish Woods wouldn't make such predictions. Why tempt fate? There is a difference between quiet confidence and arrogance, between the resolve to do one's best and implying that others are footnotes to a foregone conclusion.

That Woods wasn't able to win the Masters this year in no way undermines his status as the preeminent golfer of his time. As a fan, however, I feel that Woods makes it hard on himself unnecessarily by predicting victory when he would be better off not speculating about the outcome. There are far too many variables in golf - a change in wind direction, a drop in temperature, a mysterious 'x' factor that prevents one from clicking - to predict victory even by the best. I hope Woods will display more humility in the future. If a reporter asks him whether he can win the Masters or the U.S. Open or even the Grand Slam, he should say something like this: "All I can tell you is that I will give each game my best. The rest? We'll see."

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