Tiger Risking Injury


I’m sorry; I just don’t understand Tiger Woods.

During the pro-am of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, video of Tiger showed him aggressively stopping his downswing and soon after grimacing in great pain.  He tweaked something in his back and the pain was real; I believe it.

His explanation at a post-round press conference was that a “professional photographer” (said in jest) snapped some photos during his downswing. Really, Tiger?  Because of a few clicks from a camera (and most are very quiet digitals these days), you feel the need to immediately halt all that force and momentum build up, that purposeful momentum to crush the ball like everyone else on the planet wishes they could?

This was not the first time. Tiger has many times stopped his downswing for similar reasons. Once he did it because a flock of birds flew over and he didn’t like the shadows they created on the ground.

I understand distractions on the golf course. As a former photojournalist I also understand proper etiquette when covering the game of golf, and to some degree I fault the photographer in this case – although it was likely an average fan as cameras are allowed on pro-am day. I understand golf’s tradition of quiet during play and don’t support someone purposefully screaming at you to miss the ball or any other such foolishness.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why would these simple things bother Tiger Woods?  Wasn’t Tiger the most feared athlete in his sport for many years?  Didn’t he receive ongoing praise for his focus, his drive, his guts, his determination, and his focus again?  If so, how could the few clicks of a camera be so distracting that it would be worth the serious risk of injury that could end a great career?  Just concentrate, ignore the distractions around you and hit the ball.

If Tiger or any professional in his or her field is that good, or wants to become great, the little things in life should not disturb their focus.