Thousands have flocked to the Emirates Golf Club at the Dubai Desert Classic to see the Tiger hunt in the desert.
Eldrick Woods has had a lot of change in the last two years with nothing going right for him. There are many who still believe in the man who has always justified his name tag, fighting like a cornered tiger does, whenever the odds are stacked against him – a true sign of champion stuff.
But there are always cynics, ones who are calling Tiger Woods amid a ‘slump’ even though he has won five tournaments since his upheaval period; just like many who throw peanuts and pebbles and taunt a tiger believing he has been caged and tamed.
But conditions can test any man and Tiger is human after all as he battles his own demons on a personal front. Ominously the conditions at the Majlis course have coincided with the winds of change as Woods is scripting his way back to the world No 1 spot.
One was more curious to get into the mind of the champion and what is his line of thought especially when he seemed to flounder on the first day. Thursday saw all focus on how the top three ranked golfers went head to head with Woods playing with Lee Westwood (world No 1) and Martin Kaymer (world No 2). The latter two did well but Tiger only managed one-under.
While I could not shoot him a question at the press conference, the insight I was looking for came from a man who knew his irons and yet was not a star fellow golfer on the Tour to give an ornamental feedback.
Andrew Mathews, a golf instructor at the course, was patiently instructing a common spectator of getting the basics right on the swing – the common source of paranoia for any golfer.
“That is what Tiger Woods is also doing. He has been making the necessary changes with his new coach and is slowly but getting there,” Mathews told me.
But why will a man who has seen it all and done it all change something which was working for him enough to ensure a very long stay at the top of the world?
“Because he knows that what he has been doing is getting him the results for now but is not perfect. He was never satisfied with his game and hence the urge for improvement always.
“He knew that his swing was not right but that is what he was doing from the beginning. Now that he got some time off, he has decided to work on it.”
Coming from the world of cricket where a top player always goes back to his basics whenever things go wrong and needs his confidence back, especially in a slump, the attitude of the man who has lost millions of dollars in less than 2 years is exactly the opposite.
“It is a bit odd but this man is Tiger. We must also not forget that he does this for a living. While most of us will be happy to get such changes in gradual, Tiger has all the time in the world and he is relentless at it, even while playing.
Mathews claims he is a mind coach and adds: “People are talking about the so-called slump. But when on the course, he is only bothered about getting his new swing alright and I am sure he will work on it and you will see he will come out better.
“Today (Friday) he has made a six-under. In fact, I am willing to put my money on him winning this one!”
Win or not, the fact that a champion is restructuring his whole basic swing even when the times are tough and not take the refuge of the established path is worth a salute.