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Swinging With Tiger Woods

A look at what really brought Tiger Woods to his knees.

So Tiger is toying with the idea of getting a new swing coach? I thought that role had been filled by one of the 8 to 10 women he'd been "working on his game" with in the last couple of years.

Okay that was a 7 iron to the man zone, but seriously I'm thinking maybe Tiger should be talking to a life coach instead of a swing coach right now.

I know just the man for the job. The fiery gruff voiced drill Sgt. From Full Metal Jacket (R Lee Ermey). Couple of sessions with that guy and your head is going to be screwed on straight or he'll break a driver off in your backside to get his point across.

I'm baffled why so many of the experts and media types remain puzzled about Tiger's struggles. He had been so big for so long and dominated the sport at a level never seen (sorry Jack) that everyone bought in to the whole Tiger package. He was invincible on the course so he led us all to believe he was invincible off the course as well.

Tiger's life has been a well choreographed machine dating back to his first appearance on The Mike Douglas Show when he was 2 years old. Fast forward to the moment he turned pro and that machine was suddenly being powered by Nike, the PGA and the many other endorsements that he quickly began to rack up. 

Look at it this way. The Rams top draft pick Sam Bradford just pulled in a contract that will at the very least guarantee him 50 million dollars. Even if he goes Ryan Leaf he's got that in the bank.

Tiger was getting 50 million a year, every year from the time he was 19 or 20 and that number continued to grow into the 100's of millions each year. You see, no other athlete in our era, not even Michael Jordan was pulling in the kind of bank that Tiger's been pulling in for the last 10 + years.

Take that kind of money and add to it the kind of dominance that Tiger displayed on the course with his weekly beat downs of every golfer on tour and you being to understand how Tiger eventually veered off course.

Professional golf more than any other sport lends itself to a kind of rock star lifestyle.

Unlike the Peyton Manning's or athletes from most other sports who have to put in 6 to 7 days a week reporting to work each day spending time with your coaches and teammates and then reviewing countless hours of video, Tiger is essentially a one man band.

The people around him included an agent or agents, personal assistant his caddie and that was it on most days. When it was time to travel he didn't have to catch a team flight. There was no bus he had to get on to get over to the stadium and he sure as hell didn't grab a cab to get to the park early like some baseball players will do. Tiger's travel was all first class. Private jet, car service, you get the picture. Even at Tour events he didn't stay on the grounds at the resort or hotel. Mansions and only high end homes would due for golf's top cat.

All of this kind of star treatment would be expected of someone with the status of Tiger but it also came with a price.

With all the first class travel, the mansions, car service and his people who would jump when he snapped his fingers came a great degree of isolation. That isolation begins to create a layer of disconnect and above it all a sense of being indestructible. When was the last time Tiger walked thru an airport? When was the last time he went and grabbed some grocery's, or stopped in and picked up a 12 pack? Even the top Hollywood stars try and find a way to stay connected and grounded to some degree (Lindsay Lohan being a least one exception).

As we're finding out now the thing that kept Tiger grounded all those years was the same man who pushed him from the moment he could swing a club. Earl Woods was seen by some as just another long line of sports stars parents who never allowed their kids to have a childhood and just wanted to create a gravy train. While I'm sure there were plenty of times that Tiger felt like telling Earl to shut the hell up, it's clear he understood there was method to his madness and Tiger also recognized that he was blessed with a unique set of skills that shouldn't be wasted.

Earl was the voice and the hand that provided guidance for Tiger while he was alive and the moment that voice and hand went away after his death Tiger basically lost his lighthouse.

The same man who was said to be nearly unbeatable and the man who would easily surpass The Golden Bear's major's victories is now the man they are saying has lost his groove and he may never find it. He'll never be the same and Jack's record might be safe after all. Hell he's not even a sure bet for the Ryder Cup, unless you listen to Jim Gray and I'm guessing after that hard hitting interview he did with LeBron James few people are these days.

Is it really so hard to understand why he's been struggling so much. First he took very little time off considering the circumstances.

Secondly, it's not like he doesn't have a few things on his mind. What sponsor is dropping me today? Damn, Elin's lawyer called my lawyer 4 times yesterday. How much did you say she wants?! And then there's the kids and when is going to get to see them again. All of these thoughts are swirling around in his head and it's just the 2nd hole as he stands over a 22 foot putt for bogey!

So as Tiger ponders a new Swing coach my advice and the good news here Tiger is it's free of charge is that you get your "life" together first. Try and regain even a small sliver of a real life. Tell the staff to take a week or two off. Charter a boat, hell go jump on the Northwestern with Captain Sig for a few days while they try and haul in some king crab. That'll bring you back to reality a bit. No swing coach in the world is going to be able to help you solve the real problem which seems to lie between your ears and in your heart.