Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!

It's Sunday afternoon. I went to church this morning where a tiny female substitute minister also played a beautiful Chopin variation on her violin together with a large black female guitar player who was excellent. Afterward I went to the ambulance to prepare financial statements for tonight's board meeting, but I took a call shortly after I finished the statements since no other medics were around. Now, after an interesting call, I've been home for awhile watching Tiger Woods win the Tour Championship tournament by an outrageous number of strokes - and also win the very first FedEx Cup. Just another day for Tiger...

2007 is Tiger's 11th year on the PGA tour since he left Stanford University after his freshman year to turn pro. He's won 61 tournaments and over $70 million, and he owns so many records I couldn't begin to relate them. His golf game is unique - no one has ever had as complete a game as Tiger. He hits it far; he hits it straight; he recovers from bad shots; he plays from sand like it isn't there; his short game and putting is possibly the best ever. But none of these things is the #1 reason I'm a great Tiger fan.

My #1 reason for admiring Tiger is that he has an unrelenting drive to excel. His golf game today is nothing like his golf game in 1997, where he won the Masters by 12 shots and embarassed every other top pro golfer. In those days he combined great talent and "feel" with youthful exuberance and confidence. Now though, he's much stronger, smarter, and "technical" - he dissects golf courses like a top-flight surgeon, and he can win even when he's not hitting the ball perfectly. He's changed his swing several times since 1997, struggling to do it a new way and willing to have some dry spells as he changed over. Tiger has never said "I'm good enough", and he's worked as hard as any other golfer to play his best. As a result, he's still as far ahead of the other golfers as he was 10 years ago, even though all his competitors have also improved their skills.

We can all learn a great lesson from Tiger, the lesson that improvement is a continuous goal regardless of our level of success. Even if our objectives fall short of being world class at anything, we can always try our best to do better every day. And that is the #1 reason why Tiger is a more admirable person than I am: he's worked harder and sacrificed more to maximize on his natural ability than I have worked and sacrificed to maximize on mine. Excellence in human activities, even in sports, is important to our species. In golf, Tiger burns bright because he brings in the fuel and keeps it lit at all times.


Woozie said...

You turned down Football for Golf? In September? Madman. You're a madman! This is madness!

Ron Davison said...

Tiger was listening to motivational tapes at 5, if I remember right. What's probaby most amazing about the man is that his career - relatively speaking - has just started. It'll be mind-boggling to see his final tally of records.