I Knew He’d Make That Putt

Have you stumbled onto this amazing essay/article by Joe Posnanski “The Meaning of Tiger Woods?

It’s a wonderfully written article with some great insights and questions about the greatest golfer ever.

I love this Rocco quote in particular:

“I knew he’d make it,” Mediate shouted when Tiger made it. We all knew. Anyone could make that putt with the right read, a good stroke and a touch of providence. I’d even say that most excellent pros could make that putt in that moment, under that pressure, with a throbbing knee and a U.S. Open at stake. But only Tiger would make it. Maybe that’s the difference with Tiger, the difference between could and would.

What’s compelling about this essay is that Joe exposes us to the fact that we really don’t know Tiger at all… in a supposed age of transparency, Tiger’s true self is shielded from us in subtle but important ways.

Joe points out a few terrific stories including this one about MJ that I absolutely love…

I know a pretty telling story about Michael Jordan. It seems that he was practicing before a game, and arena people were going through all the scoreboard games to make sure they worked. “Hey,” Michael yelled out. “Who wins the dot game tonight?” They told him … say it was blue. That night, during a timeout, the dot game began. Jordan turned to Scottie Pippen: “Hey, bet you a thousand dollars blue wins.” Something about that gets me closer to Michael Jordan, his hunger for action, his need for control, his preparation, his desperation to win. Pippen agreed to the bet, which tells you plenty about him too.

Think about this for a moment.. where are all the great stories about Tiger?

He sanitizes his image daily. He speaks in platitudes and technicalities and circles — “I love competing,” he says, and “I just try to stay in the moment,” and all that. He does not want to be known.

That quote reminds me of when Crash Davis teaches Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham about handling interviews…

Crash Davis: It’s time to work on your interviews.
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: My interviews? What do I gotta do?
Crash Davis: You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: “We gotta play it one day at a time.”
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Got to play… it’s pretty boring.
Crash Davis: ‘Course it’s boring, that’s the point. Write it down.

Thanks Joe, for a terrific essay on the greatest golfer. This is seriously, one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long, long time.

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