James Corrigan: Tiger cannot admit he is beset by self-doubt

The Way I See It: An insider who knows him talks about Woods' "broken mental apparatus", but the talent hasn't left him

Like a fool with a bunch of fivers chasing that damned pea, we keep on falling for it. Tiger Woods hits a great shot, compiles a great round and we climb the ladders to the rooftops to scream "he's back". A 75 later, we are back in the cellar quietly polishing the obit. Yes, yes, we were right all along: the old Tiger is dead.

Perhaps it is apt that his latest brush with resurrection occurred in Australia. Two years ago tomorrow, the world No 1, as he was back then, won the Australian Masters. Who would have believed he would not win again in the next 24 months? Maybe a scandal-sheet editor possessed the inside info to cast a new light on his infallibility, but even he or she wouldn't have figured the scale of the downfall or the span of the drought. This golfing collapse has been beyond all but those catastrophic forecasts which saw him quitting the game.

Of course, those unwilling to accept his domination is part of history will point to the fact he finished fourth at the Masters and even to his stirring 67 to take third place at yesterday's Australian Open. That's not bad, they'll claim, for an athlete who spent months on the sidelines with injury and who is still coming to terms with a swing overhaul. In fact, it's richly promising. So, be patient; stick with him; we will see his like again.

Woods caresses those promises like a blind man grips his stick. He has no other option but to hold on tight. When he is asked, like he was in Sydney, whether he believes he can reign like he used to, the answer has to be in the affirmative. If he loses the belligerence to state that, then he truly will have lost everything. The new Tiger cannot admit who he is; a player beset by self-doubt, haunted by the memories of his forsaken hegemony.

He is hardly alone on that score. When he eventually wins again (and yesterday surely confirms he will), prepare for the grand pronouncements to bound up and down each and every fairway. The millstone will have been ditched and so the chase for Jack Nicklaus's record mark will have resumed. How silly we all were ever to have doubted. Thank you Luke, thank you Rory for filling in; you can now take your leave from centre stage. Because guess what – he's back.

Tiger won't be. He may well resemble what he was, but what he was would no longer stand out so singularly on this sporting landscape. As Woods has gone backwards, so golf has gone forwards, meaning the mountain has grown higher as he has scratched around for his gear in the foothills.

As it is, it can barely last four days, never mind a sustained ascent. Saturday was pure golfing groundhog. After appearing supreme, his motion suddenly veered into the ugly and uncertain, his mind duly followed and through the robustness of his insecurity the man who perennially turned 69s into 65s carved out a three-over from a level par. We've seen this time and again since the fireballing of his saintlyhood. Even his friends admit to the frustration of his competitive failures. "I've seen the best stuff I've ever seen in my life," said John Cook, a regular practice partner. "I always tell Tiger: 'Why don't you just go out and do that'?"

Tiger is desperate to. An insider who knows Woods talks about his "broken mental apparatus" and therein is the truth. The talent has not left him – how could it? – but the conviction has certainly gone its own way. Of all his costly splits, this is the break-up carrying the most noughts.

It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the legend who had it all and sacrificed it in life's casino. But the fascination remains the stronger emotion. It is a tumble with no apparent safety net, but with the trampoline we continually convince ourselves is there. Where next will the descent take him? To Melbourne, the city of his most recent success; the city where the first mistress was located, so soon to be exposed. What is this? Shakespeare?

This week he plays in the Presidents Cup, the rest of the world's version of the Ryder Cup as they try to bring down the titan that just about remains American golf. Woods will be forced to field queries of whether he deserves his place. Think about that for a second. Many do not consider Woods to be one of the top 12 golfers in his own country. That is a staggering verdict of where he is right now. But his captain, Fred Couples, will stand by him and do not be surprised if in the protective climes of a team-room he emerges as the hero of Melbourne.

But what will that mean? That he's back? Or that he's fallen to a level he always despised? Where he would be forced to share the glory with others; where the personal victories are nothing of the sort unless there's a trophy to take home. Tiger the gutsy loser, Tiger the team man? The Old Tiger would simply snarl.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?