Discussing Tiger’s comeback

Bill Simmons wrote a long column that compares Tiger’s eventual comeback to those of some of sport’s other iconic athletes. One point jumped out at me…

At gunpoint, if I could wager on any conceivable scenario, I would wager on Tiger coming back in severe Eff You Mode, like a seething MJ in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals. The greatest ones have a way of channeling negativity and fueling it toward whatever makes them great. Jordan made a habit of it. So did Ali. But they were also larger-than-life personalities, whereas Tiger was always just someone who was freakishly good at golf and that’s it.

I can see Tiger coming back with a vengeance, but basketball (and boxing, for that matter) is unlike golf in that pure effort and energy can overcome one’s opponent. Typically, in basketball, an athletically inferior team can be victorious if they outhustle its opponent. Defense, rebounding, loose balls — success in these areas depends largely on a team’s effort. So if MJ’s shot wasn’t falling, he could take his “Eff You Mode” and apply it elsewhere and dominate the game. And when the best athlete on the court is playing harder than anyone else, good things will happen.

I don’t think Tiger can do that in golf. Effort is only going to matter when he’s practicing, and while this is vitally important to a successful comeback, effort is not going to matter much when it comes time to play a tournament. Golf is a game of millimeters, and passion isn’t going to help much when titles are on the line. If channeled, this passion and determination can help in the form of focus, but there is also the chance that Tiger becomes too focused and it pushes him off the rails.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting to watch.

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