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.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices