Tiger, I promise you that you’ll never meet another person as mentally tough as you your entire life. And he hasn’t, and he never will. - Earl Woods
From the start of the U.S. Open coverage on Thursday through to then end on Monday afternoon, this Nike ad narrated by the late Earl Woods seemed to appear in almost every commercial break. As the week went on, the words of Earl Woods become increasingly appropriate and inspirational.
Those of us fortunate enough to watch Tiger hole by hole earlier this month at Torrey Pines are well aware that we witnessed one of the most surreal and inspirational performances in sports history.
With a badly torn ACL and a double stress fracture is his left leg, every full swing Tiger made was followed by a sharp jolt of pain that he knew very well was coming. Yet he somehow put this thought behind him swing after swing and continued to execute.
In typical Tiger fashion, he simply did what he had to do to win. I’m not sure how Nike managed to pick such a perfect ad for the week but Tiger certainly proved his dad right. He will never meet anyone as mentally tough as him.
Since suffering the injury to his ACL 10 months ago running at home, Tiger won an incredible 10 times, had two runner up finishes and a fifth place finish in his 13 starts. His average tournament paycheck over that span was just under a million dollars (although this is chump change compared to his numerous endorsement deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars).
Tiger is projected to become the first athlete billionaire as early as 2010. He is the best athlete in the world today and the most dominant and important athlete of our time, if not of all time.
Tiger will not be in the field for the next two majors and he will miss out on the Ryder Cup at Valhalla this fall. The tour should be thankful for the legendary week Tiger provided, but the end of Tiger’s year might as well be the end of the golf season.
There will not be significant interest in the next two majors (well at least not until Sunday) and the Europeans must now be heavy favorites to continue their dominance in the Ryder Cup. But Tiger will return next season atop the world rankings and possibly with another player of the year victory under his belt.
Thanks, Tiger, for one of the most entertaining, gutsy, and inspiring performances I’ve ever seen. Number fifteen comes at Augusta 2009. The golf world is waiting.