IMAGINE you’ve had an eight month lay off from golf, you’ve had major knee surgery, you’re on the first tee of your first competition game after spending all those months in rehabilitation.
Forget that you’re Tiger Woods and you have the added pressure of the eyes and cameras of the world on you, as you tee up your ball after being away for so long what are you thinking?
If you are Tiger Woods hitting of at the Accenture Match Play, what you are thinking is going to help you start back with a birdie, eagle on the first two holes, and to go on and comfortably win the match.
If you were a club golfer coming back after eight months with injury, with maybe just the pressure of a couple of mates watching, you’d be happy to just get that first shot on the fairway somewhere.
“I got off to probably an ideal start, birdie, eagle,” a laid back Woods said later at his post match press conference.
The media wanted to make much of how he felt when he was walking up to make his long awaited comeback. What his emotions were? How he reacted to the cheers? What it all meant to him? What he was thinking?
Unfortunately for the media’s visions of some grand themes and thoughts for their prose, Woods was very pragmatic.
Woods was thinking what any club golfer lining up to take a tee shot should be thinking, knee surgery and eight months layoff or not.
“Well, it felt like nothing had changed,” Woods said.
What he was thinking is that he was going to get his three wood out and hit a slight draw to a spot on the right side of the fairway that would give him the best angle into the flag.
Regrettably for his match play opponent, Aussie Brendan Jones, “it felt like business as usual”.
As Woods said: “I thought I would be more nervous on that first tee, but when it comes right down to it, it comes to placement off the tee, and hitting to the flag and second hole, hit it down the fairway, angle it. All different things that I – it just came back down to just playing the game again, and that felt good.”
Woods was pressed again later in the conference, surely he must have had all those human emotions that would make a better headline?
Q: We’re all human beings. Describe your emotions when you walk through up and to the first tee box and the adrenaline of actually striking the ball competitively for the first time and in the best part of the year.
Tiger Woods: Walking on the tee was just I was just in my own little world, just trying to make sure that I knew what the number was to the bunker, where the wind was coming from, slightly off left, am I going to hit a flat 3-wood, draw the ball, trying to decide what shot I want to hit. And that‘s basically how I am with every round going to the first tee. So that didn’t change. So over the tee shot it was just being able to hold a little draw up there and put it down the right side and give myself an angle at that flag, and I was able to do that.
Q: You make it sound as though it was just another shot.
Tiger Woods: Well, that‘s – it is. It really is when it comes down to it; it really is just another shot. Just because I’ve taken time off and away from a competitive environment doesn’t change the nature of how you execute a golf shot. At home or here, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a golf shot. And there’s a lot more pressure out here, granted, but still, it’s just when you tee it up, you make a swing and you go place it down the side of the fairway you want it to be on and go about your business.
Q: Did you learn anything new yourself today? Anything different that surprised you?
Tiger Woods: No.
Sorry media, same old boring golf stuff. Decide your best target. Decide which shot to play. Hit it. Walk up to ball. Repeat.
There must be some reason they all keep saying it.