I keep promising myself that I’m done writing about Tiger Woods, and then he does something else interesting. No, I’m not talking about the list of 120 women plus 1 girl that he supposedly slept with. This time, it’s his mail-it-in performance at Quail Hollow.
I think that we all should have seen Tiger’s Quail Hollow collapse coming. Sure, he did well at the Masters, but that was a perfect setup for his return. There’s an aura of good feeling around that place for him (or there was, until Billy Payne read him the riot act). He knows every nook and cranny, and the patrons were guaranteed to be polite.
Quail Hollow is another story. Tiger won there once—in 2007—but it can hardly be considered home turf in the way that Augusta can. And reports I’ve read from Quail Hollow suggest that things were not quite as friendly. They weren’t booing him, but even mere polite applause must scream disapproval for one who is used to hearing constant adulation. There’s a terrific picture of Tiger walking past a line of spectators with thumbs pointed down over at Geoff Shackelford’s site.
What I find most amazing is that he basically threw in the towel after the first day. Tiger’s normal routine is to follow up a round with a range session to work out the kinks. But after the first round at Quail Hollow, he told reporters: “I’m not going to the range today. Hell with it. Sometimes after a high round, I just put the clubs away or break a few. I’m just going to let it go today.”
Maybe he does sometimes just let it go, and maybe he doesn’t. But under that scrutiny, and after that round, his “Hell with it” made me think he had given up. I said as much to a friend at work that next morning, and my prophecy was fulfilled.
I think there’s more of this in Tiger’s future. The national humiliation, the stress of a broken marriage, wondering what his kids will think of him when they grow up, and the realization that he’s probably lost a half-a-billion dollars—that’s all got to add up. I don’t see how anyone could stand up to it.