Tiger has to keep his edge

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Before this piece goes under the bird cage, its primary purpose is to focus on performance on the golf course, not performance between the sheets, so in that spirit, we discuss Tiger Woods, whose indiscretions led to his heartfelt, televised chat just over a week ago at TPC Sawgrass.

In the court of public opinion, it seems there is a hung jury -- hey, that's a legitimate legal term -- about Woods' sincerity in declaring he was sorry for his philandering.

Whether or not the humble persona he projected at Sawgrass is an act will become clearer as he transitions back into a public figure, whenever that begins, but the days of having a potty mouth on the course or caddie Steve Williams confiscating a fan's camera appear to be over with new expectations of Tiger.

WINNING EDGE

Whether a humble Woods can succeed at the same level he once played at will be the question once he finally puts the peg in the ground. Whether you define the attitude he once had as a razor sharp winning edge or arrogance, he still needs to maintain it for success, even if he has to bury it inside of himself.

A good example of Woods' arrogance or edge involved a Canadian at the 2006 World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championships.

If you recall, Calgary's Stephen Ames was asked about playing Woods and what his chances were in that showdown. Ames responded that Woods was having trouble keeping the ball in the fairway at that time and maybe that would help his chances from the underdog position.

After laying the smackdown on Ames, Woods was asked about his opponent's comments and his cocky reply was simply "9 and 8," the lopsided score at the end of the match.

Lost in the verbiage before and after that whuppin' is the fact that Ames was correct. The stats at that time backed up his claim that Woods was spraying the ball, so Ames pointing that out while discussing his own chances was analytical, not obnoxious.

Going forward, Woods will have to resist the temptation to go public on such things, but still use whatever he needs to sharpen his mental edge. He may be fuelled about becoming a punch line for tasteless jokes, the paparazzi or those who now prefer that Jack Nicklaus keep his record of 18 majors - whatever works.

The difference now is that Woods can't allow fans who want to continue his beat-down or potential sponsors to see that attitude. It will be a delicate balancing act

Projecting a positive image is critical to Woods' future, but he also can't allow his edge to disappear. Call it arrogance if you like, but if he doesn't have it, the four majors he needs to catch the Jack Nicklaus will seem longer to attain than the 14 he already has won, if he can do it at all.

A week ago at Sawgrass, he displayed flashes of anger toward the paparazzi and rumours of domestic violence, but managed to hold it together in those scripted and rehearsed proceedings.

If nothing else, the Sawgrass event was the first of many tests that Tiger will face when he gets back. The difference is that the coming tests won't be a controlled environment, so he needs to become natural in projecting an outwardly nice guy, while keeping his inner edge razor sharp.


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