Woods is the most watched golfer wherever he tees up, but the Masters is different for him. He’s won the tournament four times — the most of any major meet — but has not emerged at the top of the Masters leaderboard since 2005. This marks his longest drought in any major invitational, including the British and U.S. Opens and the PGA Championships.
With 14 major titles, Woods needs four more championships to tie the record set by Jack Nicklaus during his 43-year career on the PGA Tour. The end of Woods’ playing days may be closer than he realizes, however. He turned 36 years old in December and had reconstructive knee surgery in June 2008.
Yet Woods does not see this year’s Masters as the end of his quest to surpass Nicklaus and win 19 majors. When ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi recently asked Woods what drives him, Woods had an intense look in his eyes — one that has crumbled so many competitors’ hopes on the final Sunday at those 14 tournaments. He uttered one word in response to Rinaldi’s question — winning.
While it’s understandable for Woods to want to hold himself to the highest standard in his sport, hasn’t this sole focus on winning led him astray in the past? Let’s not forget that Woods has done almost nothing on the golf course in the past two and a half years. With a highly publicized divorce from his wife following a slew of sexcapades coupled with his knee surgery, the world’s top golfer has been physically and emotionally crippled.
Despite all the trauma, Woods maintains the same emotional state on the golf course, and seemingly in the rest of his life as well. While he has certainly toned down since the days when he would yell and swear after hitting an errant shot, Woods shows almost no pleasure when playing the game.
It hardly ever seems like he smiles when he is on the course and the camera is around him. There seems to be a distance between Woods and everyone else that no one can seem to penetrate. Obviously I do not know Woods personally, but it appears as though he is the least approachable golfer on the PGA circuit.
His undeniable drive makes it impossible for him to simply enjoy playing the game. Woods scrutinizes and evaluates every movement on the course like no other. Every once in a while, I wish he would realize and take in what he has accomplished and not let his failure to pass Nicklaus ruin what time he has left in his career.