What happened to Tiger Woods?

What's wrong with Tiger Woods?


Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer of all time, and certainly of this generation. He has been the PGA Player of the Year 11 times, more than any other player. He got so good that people had to alter golf courses just to give everyone else a chance. But since 2014, he’s been on a steep decline, and the man who held the top spot in the world rankings for 683 weeks has now tumbled down to the 283rd position. So what’s wrong with golf’s biggest star?

When Woods fell from grace in 2009 after revealing he cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren, he took a break from the sport and afterwards – as you would expect – suffered from a loss in form. He lost his grasp on the top spot in October 2010 for the first time since 2005, and fell down the rankings, looking completely unlike himself. But he promptly bounced back, winning the Chevron World Challenge to regain momentum and snatching back his number one spot on March 25, 2013.

Things were looking good for a while, until a back injury hampered his game in 2014, and since the ensuing surgery, Woods has never been the same. He fell out of the top 100 for the first time since he turned professional, sparking a freefall that sent him plunging to the dismal position he finds himself in now.

What's wrong with Tiger Woods?

Could there be something more than the back injury hampering Tiger Woods?

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It would be easy to say that the back injury is what’s causing Tiger Wood’s remarkable drop in form, and undoubtedly that’s part of it. His shots have been all over the place recently, and the most painful thing about it all is that you can never predict exactly what will go wrong. One minute, he’s putting terribly, the next it’s his medium game. For a man whose consistent brilliance once caused a drop-off in form in the players around him, this unpredictability must be incredibly frustrating.

Former US Ryder Cup captain, Paul Azinger, said: “His distance control isn’t good, he’s hitting it all over the place, he’s not swinging all that well so there are some physical issues there. Sometimes you tinker too much and you get to a point where you don’t know what’s natural any more. He’d be better off with a good conversation right now rather than a lesson. He’s just got to figure out what’s wrong. I think he’s lost and he continues to go in the wrong direction.”

But is it just physical, or is there something more? After all, Woods bounced back from a drop in form first time round. What’s making this time so different?

Steve Siebold, an author and expert in mental toughness training, thinks there could be something else at play. Through studying his body language, the way he moves across the fairway, his composure, even his glare, Steve thinks Tiger’s decline has the markings of depression.

He said: “Everything about Tiger’s outer appearance is telling me he’s suffering on the inside. And not just suffering a little bit; he’s an emotional shipwreck. This is hurting at a very serious level that has brought me to the conclusion that Tiger Woods might very well be suffering from depression and needs professional help.”

Spotted at the NFL: is Tiger Woods struggling with depression?

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Tiger has been seen out and about a lot this week, from the US Open tennis to Sunday Night Football, but that doesn’t mean he’s not inwardly struggling with depression. We know from the tragic death of comedian and actor Robin Williams that the face you wear on the outside can mask the turmoil you’re fighting within.

Going from golf god to average Joe, at one moment the most marketable sportsman in the world and the next spiraling out of the top 300, had to be incredibly hard for Tiger. The dramatic fall from grace would be enough to turn anyone into an emotional wreck. But whatever it is that’s tearing him up inside, let’s hope he finds a way to deal with it, because the game is all the better for having him on form.

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