Wednesday 17 December 2014

Tiger's greatest suffering stems from his eclipse by younger rivals

Donny Mahoney

Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30

Tiger Woods' body can no longer keep up with his competitive instincts. Photo: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Tiger Woods' body can no longer keep up with his competitive instincts. Photo: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger's greatest suffering stems from his eclipse by younger rivalsThere is a scene in Gay Talese's seminal piece of long-form journalism 'The Silent Season of a Hero' where Joe DiMaggio, the legendary New York Yankees outfielder, throws his nine-iron up into a tree.

DiMaggio was a decent golfer, but was 51 years old and had a creaking back when Talese watched him play an angst-ridden round in San Francisco with some of his cronies.

Talese's piece is a profile of greatness in decline. "How I'd love to have their backs," DiMaggio, once America's greatest athlete and most famous man, comments when he sees a bunch of college-aged guys freely driving the ball.

I reread 'Silent Season Of A Hero' this weekend and thought of Tiger Woods. His body failed him again last weekend at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. How he must envy the bodies of younger golfers, who can strike the ball without feeling 10 different kinds of pain.

One wonders how long Woods can go on playing. His outrageous competitive instincts must despise rounds like the 75 on Sunday at Hoylake. The two are intertwined.

Sadly, we have no real insight into how Woods is coping with the frustration – other than his foul-mouthed outbursts at spectators – because he's too fearful of the media to provide a journalist with a real glimpse of his life and vulnerabilities.

DiMaggio – a man as complicated and arrogant and self-important as Tiger – did, though.

'Silent Season of a Hero' ends with DiMaggio at bat at a spring training game in Florida. He takes a few cuts during batting practice. He hits most of the balls, but his power is gone, and he puts the bat down satisfied to be done.

He was once best in the world at this single act, but he has been eclipsed by younger men and there is nothing to do but stand aside.

Irish Independent

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