DUBLIN, Ohio – There’s nothing like a Tiger roar.
It reverberates around a golf course, shakes the ground, echoes from the trees, and hits every spot on the property. When Tiger Woods does something great, which has been often over the last two-plus decades on the PGA TOUR, his competitors know. It’s unmistakable.
At Muirfield Village, where Woods has won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide five times, the highlight reels are seemingly infinite. The chip-in on 14 in 1999. Or what about the one on 16 in 2012? In each of them, along with the shot and a Woods customary fist pump or primal scream, you see raucous galleries going nuts.
RELATED: Rankings Tiger’s wins from 2000 | Inside Tiger’s Memorial dominance
And why wouldn’t they be excited. They’ve seen greatness up close. Witnessed history. Been given a story to tell the grandkids.
Those roars not only sent shivers down many a competitor of Woods – who now knew they had another step on the mountain climb – but they invigorated Woods himself. The energy would flow through the feisty competitor and seemingly spur him on to even greater heights.
So with all that being said, what is Woods going to do this week at Muirfield Village when he makes his long-awaited and much-anticipated return to the PGA TOUR? The Memorial initially was slated as the first Return To Golf event with spectators, but the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has ensured this won’t be the case.
Woods will play his competitive rounds without an on-site gallery. Without the roars. Will he be able to summon the same competitive fire?
“There’s nothing to feed off of energy-wise. You make a big putt or make a big par or make a big chip or hit a hell of a shot, there’s no one there,” Woods said Tuesday as he readies himself for his first TOUR event since February.
“That’s what the guys are saying now, that it’s a very different world out here, not to have the distractions, the noise, the excitement, the energy, the people that the fans bring. It’s just a silent and different world.”
The Tiger effect, as it has been called in the past, extends beyond the roars. Woods pointed out that he’s had cameras on him his entire TOUR career and even had large galleries during college and amateur golf. With that comes constant hustle and bustle, movement, things that can get in the mind of some golfers.
Woods, however, had been trained by his father Earl from his toddler years to be able to deal with distraction. As Tiger grew older and began to enter competitions, his father would deliberately do things to try to put his son off mid-swing. Woods quickly developed an ability to stop mid-swing and to block out the circus around. Over the course of his incredible career and his record-tying 82 TOUR wins, Woods has been able to use the circus to his advantage.
“For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I’ve been involved in, I’ve had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media,” Woods noted.
“Watching the players play over the last few weeks, that hasn’t been the case, and that’s very different, and for the players that are a little bit older and that have played out here for a long time and have experienced it, it is very different. For some of the younger guys it’s probably not particularly different. They’re not too far removed from college or they’ve only been out here for a year or two, but for some of the older guys, it’s very eye-opening.”
Source: PGA tour