April 14, 2019 Taylor Scott

Why We Love to Follow Tiger Woods

Maybe it’s the unrivaled roar of the “Tiger” gallery.

Maybe it’s the swagger, after a birdie putt.

Maybe it’s the flair of the “Tiger red and black” on Sunday afternoons.

Like you, and so many across the world, I’ve been glued to my CBS Sports app all week and especially this weekend.  Living out west, today’s Masters coverage began at 9am.  As I purposefully prepared for bed at 8pm last night, knowing I’d intentionally wake up this morning early enough to watch Tiger Woods, on Sunday at Augusta, I asked myself, “Why is this something I love to follow?

The world, and especially the golf world loves to follow Tiger. 

If you’ve ever watched on television or if you’ve been to a PGA event when Tiger is in the mix, there’s a buzz unlike any other.  My wife and I were at The Genesis Open earlier this season, and the crowds just to watch Tiger walk from the clubhouse to the driving range after a weather delay were more electric than a Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs. 

Why?

Why do sports fans, the casual fan, the soccer fan, the basketball fan, the football fan, the hockey fan, and even the non-fans…why do we love to follow Tiger Woods?

He Mastered His Craft

From the time Tiger landed on the scene, it was apparent he had mastered his craft.  Since bursting onto the PGA Tour scene in 1996 and winning the Masters in 1997, we’ve all marveled at the mastery with which Tiger goes about his business.  Few, if anyone at all, can cut a three-wood across a rolling fairway, wrap a 7-iron around a patch of trees, and poke a 5-iron shot out of the pine straw quite like Tiger can. 

He practiced.  He studied.  He listened to coaches.  He accepted the feedback.  He applied said feedback.  And he simply mastered his craft.

He Showed Us He’s Human

He apologized. 

In an awkward and emotional press conference, Tiger Woods…” THE” Tiger Woods, admitted fault.  Some may say the press conference was a made-for-tv event.  Others may say he only apologized because he “got caught”.  One thing is for certain, his actions since that press conference in February of 2010 have proved his genuine love for his family, his dedication to his profession, and most of all, his relentless pursuit of excellence. 

He said, “I’m sorry.”  He went back to work, focused and determined.

He Mastered His Emotions

Go getters from golf courses to basketball courts to football fields to hockey rinks to dance studios to boardrooms across Corporate America have one obstacle in common.  Their own emotions. 

If you’ve followed his story over the past decade, you know Tiger’s journey has been wrought with emotional roller coaster after emotional roller coaster. 

Injuries.  Family strife.  Addictions.  Personal struggle.  Embarrassment. 

Tiger Woods has endured one emotional disaster after another, all in the public eye.  He was on top of the world in the summer of 2008 when he won the U.S. Open in a playoff, in dramatic fashion against Florida Southern College Moccasin, Rocco Mediate. However, a knee surgery and troubles at home a year later left Tiger in an unfamiliar spot.  Down.  Exposed.  Embarrassed.

Instead of living the past, accepting where he was, Tiger focused on who he could still become.  Then, in his early 30’s, he taught himself how to master his emotions, from negative self-talk to self-doubt, to fear, to embarrassment, and even his own pride. 

Even after mastering his craft, Tiger learned to master his emotions.  And we all watched it happen before our very eyes.  Slowly but surely, we’ve seen Tiger’s come back, one club twirl, one confident tee pick-up, one birdie putt, and one gallery roar at a time. 

He focused on who he could become, not who he had beenHe learned how to replace negative, destructive thoughts with positive, productive activity.

Bringing it all together

So, why do we love to follow Tiger Woods?  Maybe the roar of the gallery, the swagger, and the Tiger red and black doesn’t hurt.  But maybe. 

Just maybe, we love to follow Tiger for the same reasons we love to follow our favorite leaders…

Great leaders master their craft.

Great leaders show us just how human they are, which makes them that much more attractive to follow.

Great leaders master their emotions and inspire us to do the same.

I love sports.  I love leadership.  And I love following Tiger Woods on Sundays. 

He’s mastered his craft. 

He’s as human as you and me. 

And he’s mastered his emotions.

Congratulations, Tiger.  Thanks for the inspiration.

Taylor

One For the Road…everybody has “a Tiger story”; here’s mine

In the Summer of 2010, I lived in Windermere, FL.  I worked out at a nice fitness club, in Winter Garden, FL. 

One Tuesday morning in late July, I had just jumped on a treadmill, and a familiar looking fella stepped onto the treadmill beside me.  At first glance, he was pretty ripped, but wearing normal workout clothes, he had a towel in hand, and his personal trainer was by his side.  I started my treadmill at the same time he started his.

Thirty seconds into my jog, I looked over at “the ripped fella” with normal clothes, a towel, and his personal trainer, on the treadmill next to me.  It.  Was.  Tiger.  Woods.

I remember almost slipping off my treadmill in mid-stride.  I quickly kicked up my speed, and acted like it was no big deal.  I proceeded to run and run and run…  Tiger, next to me, was running and running and running. 

I was then and still am quite competitive.  I didn’t have a great deal going on in my life at the time, so I distinctly recall telling myself, “No way you’re getting off of this treadmill until Tiger Woods stops running.”

I was going to out-run Tiger. 

Sure enough, after about twenty minutes, Tiger slowed down to a walk, cooling off.  I let him walk for a minute, and then I promptly followed suit, slowing to a walk myself.  He went his way, and I went mine, back to the gym floor. 

Later in my workout, I was finishing up squats (I hate squats).  Somebody asked me as I was finishing my set, “How many sets you have left?

I turned around, and it was Tiger Woods. 

I said, “All yours.  Great week, last week at St. Andrews.”   (Tiger had just played really well, in The Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland the week prior.)

Tiger said, “Oh, thanks man.  Preciate it.  It was windy over there.”

I just smiled and told him, “Good luck.  We’re rooting for you.

He once again, looked me right in the eye, and said, “I really appreciate it.

Tiger Woods was human.  I’ve followed him and rooted for him ever since.

True story.

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