July 8, 2008
By Tiger Woods
First, I want to congratulate Anthony Kim for winning the AT&T National. He played a nearly flawless final round Sunday at Congressional Country Club, shooting a bogey-free 65 on a difficult golf course. Any time you can do that on such a great venue, it’s no fluke. I called Anthony to congratulate him. I told him to keep working hard and that the sky is the limit. No reason to stop now.
I thought the event went very well. We had a diverse field, the course was in wonderful condition, and everyone had a good time. I think there were 14 players within five strokes of the lead starting play Sunday, so it was an exciting championship.
My thanks to AT&T, all the staff and members at Congressional Country Club, the military, the volunteers, the fans and the players for their hard work and support. Special thanks to Fred Couples for standing in for me during the opening ceremonies.
One thing I’m really proud of is that the money we raise at the AT&T National goes back into the local community. I’m excited about expanding my Foundation to the East Coast and making a real difference for the kids there. We’re taking our time researching how to best help the local kids and hope to have something to announce soon.
As for me, it was tough watching the AT&T National on television. It’s my tournament and I felt disappointed I couldn’t be there. I’m sure I drove our staff crazy with all my calls and text messages, but I wanted to stay as involved as possible. They all did a great job!
Winning the U.S. Open for my 14th major title was an amazing accomplishment. I’d have to say it was the biggest win of my pro career. Some people have mentioned the 1997 Masters, but for me as a player, the U.S. Open was more difficult. I still don’t know how I did it. Why did I do it? Am I that stubborn?
The three reasons I played were: 1) It was Torrey Pines, a place where I grew up playing and have had a lot of success; 2) I was comfortable on the course and knew the greens; 3) I knew it was going to be my last event of the year.
When I had arthroscopic surgery on my left knee after the Masters, I knew my ACL was basically shot. I was just trying to get through the season, then planned to have reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately for me, I developed two stress fractures during my rehabilitation and that set me back.
I wanted to play in the Memorial Tournament, but couldn’t walk. I just figured if I took it easy for a couple weeks, I would be able to play in the U.S. Open.
I was hitting the ball well enough. I wasn’t hitting a lot of balls, but worked hard on my putting. It’s amazing what happens when you practice your putting.
Once the pain subsided, I could hit four or five balls at a time and then I would have to sit down in the cart because the stress fractures hurt so much. Then I would hit a few more balls and go home for the day. That’s how I got ready for the U.S. Open.
When I walked, my knee throbbed, but it wasn’t a shooting pain. Most of the pain came when I swung the club. Certain shots I couldn’t lean forward – that was the frustrating part.
I didn’t really have a go-to shot because I wasn’t sure where the pain was coming from. I hit a 40-yard pitch shot and felt I was going to fall over. Saturday was pretty bad, but Sunday was worse.
Honestly, I never thought about quitting. I was going to make it. I might have been slow, but I wasn’t going to stop playing.
Would I do it again? Probably. I knew I could win; it was just a matter of dealing with the pain and executing. The day after the tournament, my knee was done. I couldn’t stop limping. It’s amazing what adrenaline does to a system.
As everyone knows, I’m a pretty active person and don’t like sitting around. Unfortunately, I don’t have much choice right now. Initially, it wasn’t much fun. But I’m on the good side now and starting to get more sleep.
I have spent most of my mornings watching Wimbledon, the afternoon watching AT&T and the evenings watching the U.S. Olympic Trials. I also read and play video games. Anything to get me through the day.
Looking ahead to 2009, I have no idea when I’ll return to competition. I haven’t set a date, because I just don’t know when I’ll be ready. That’s the frustrating part; I don’t know what to look forward to.
The good news is that my stress fractures are healing. If I hadn’t played in the U.S. Open, they would be almost fully healed by now. So, the surgery was a blessing in disguise. By the time I come back, they should be fine.
The thing I’ll miss most about sitting out the rest of the season is not being in the fight. Everybody knows how much I love to compete. I was really looking forward to playing in the British Open at Royal Birkdale, where I finished third in 1998, and trying to defend my title in the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
I have been asked if I would consider being an assistant coach for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team in September. I wouldn’t do it for a couple reasons: 1) I’m not on the team. 2) The event should be about the competitors and the competition. The guys will have plenty on their minds and I wish them the best. I’ll be cheering loudly.
I’ll be checking in when I can…
That is a newsletter that I receive from the Tiger Woods webpage as part of a mailing list. This sums up my previous post about Tiger’s mental toughness better then I ever could.
Most of the newsletters are usually good but in this one there’s a couple of things that really stick out to me that are part of why he is as great as he is.
- Goal setting: He doesn’t know when he’s going to be healthy so he can’t set realistic goals to shoot for and keep him motivated, and that makes him upset.
- Burning desire to win: Tiger says he knew he could win at that was the only reason he played. If he didn’t think he could win he wouldn’t play. From previous quotes that is the way he treats everything he does, if he doesn’t think he is prepared to succeed he won’t do it.
- Complete Confidence (borderline arrogance?) in his abilities: I think this is probably the most important aspect. He says he couldn’t even hit more than 4 or 5 balls in row without having to sit down but in his mind he still knew he was going to win. That’s some serious mental toughness and confidence. He knew it was going to hurt and it was going to suck but there was no doubt in his mind he could handle it and that would still be good enough to beat everyone else even if they played at their best.
It seems like those three attributes are found in the majority of people that are successful in whatever it is they are doing.