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An honest letter to Tiger Woods

Last updated on: April 04, 2017 11:49 IST

Change your game. You should play with a new game of shorter drives and enter tournaments where length off the tees is not so critical, writes Siddharth Shriram in a note to the golfing great.

'You will always make the cut, always have the crowds behind you, occasionally get into the mix and win 5 per cent of the time instead of 35 per cent'

IMAGE: 'You will always make the cut, always have the crowds behind you, occasionally get into the mix and win 5 per cent of the time instead of 35 per cent'. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Dear Tiger,

Your talent is there but the body will not bear up to the high stress the way you used to play the game, and the way you perhaps think the game should be played to be in the winners' circle where the longest ever hitters of the golf ball in tournament golf seem to be. But, did Zach Johnson and several others win Majors because of long driving? Did Tom Watson almost win The Open at age 60 because of long driving? Similarly, can you win tournaments, and even some Majors, by driving the ball no longer than 275 yards?

Jason Day's drives are 20 per cent in the fairway when he drives 330 yards and 70 per cent when he drives 280 yards. You are much worse than him when trying to drive long but, even from dreadful resultant lies, you rescue yourself admirably.

With 280 yards drives you will be more on the fairway and your percentage of winning shots will improve dramatically. No, you won't be on the green in two on Par 5s, and therefore may not get any eagles. Big deal! You will gather far more birdies than ever before -- with no strain on your now fragile body.

In other words, change your game. You should play with a new game of shorter drives and enter tournaments where length off the tees is not so critical (such as the Masters/Links Courses etc etc). You will always make the cut, always have the crowds behind you, occasionally get into the mix (instead of 80 per cent of the time) and win 5 per cent of the time instead of 35 per cent.

Most professional golfers would be happy with 5 per cent wins.

Cut the coat of your dreams (or wishful thinking) to the cloth of your real capability. You will never drive as long as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory Mcllroy and a host of others. But once you are in the mix, your magic around the greens will soon let them know that the Big Cat is back. All players will love to have you compete again but they will not target you -- only each other -- unless you repeatedly show them up.

'You will never drive as long as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory Mcllroy and a host of others. But once you are in the mix, your magic around the greens will soon let them know that the Big Cat is back'

IMAGE: 'You will never drive as long as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory Mcllroy and a host of others. But once you are in the mix, your magic around the greens will soon let them know that the Big Cat is back'. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

You will never dominate the game as you once did, ever again. The twenteens are as good today as you once were. You can match or better them in all departments of the game other than the drive.

75 per cent of your wins came between 1997 and 2007, only 25 per cent in the next ten years and none in the last three. All your records will be beaten, one by one, by different players but we will have to wait for a prodigy such as you to individually break all your records. All records are there to be broken (except, sadly, that of India's Milkha Singh's 400-meter record set in 1962!).

All present, top 10 players cut their teeth watching you play and crafted their bodies and skills in your image. They too are bold, long, creative; but, I would venture to suggest that in and around the green, you could easily match them and more. Courses were remodelled to accommodate your prodigious length off the tees; they are once again being remodelled to make the risk/reward ratio of seeking length more expensive.

Your second coming, as a redesigned champion golfer is waiting for you, if only …….!

You do not need the bucks but the bucks will come; perhaps you have enough for three generations. But you do need to be out there playing at the top level, for yourself, for your kids, for the adoring but now sometimes sceptical public, for the burnishing of the living legend that you are and for your father, for:

……. how can man die better,

than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of one's father

and the Temples of one's God

(and you possibly do have many Gods - Buddha, Christ, Red Indian, Others!).

Be the Ambassador to where golf is going to be very big. China, India, Indonesia, Thailand beckon you to reignite the game in their countries. Don't make fleeting visits that will truly be a strain on your back; make week-long visits to meet with kings and prime ministers, sportspersons, media, players, children, golf academies and link golf in these poor countries to health, fitness, fun, character, competition and nation.

Golfer Tiger Woods poses with a copy of his new book "The 1997 Masters: My Story" at a book signing event at a Barnes & Noble store in New York City, New York, on March 20

IMAGE: The world needs you, the golfing universe needs you, millions of children who follow in your footsteps need you and the unfulfilled and unfinished legend needs you to finish the story properly -- in fading glory as skills diminish and not in being carried off the field unable to do battle. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Only age and infirmity should stop you, as it did with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. They all say you were the greatest ever. But can you be the greatest ever when you have to stop playing in the early forties because you cannot change your game.

You were never always the best in every aspect of the game; you did not need to be. You just needed to be ahead of most people in all the metrics of the game and you would win.

The exhortation now is to acknowledge that you will NOT be near the top in driving distance, but be ahead of most people in all the other departments of the game. You have it won, Tiger.

Nobody can still their mind the way you can. To stop your speedy swing on the downswing needs immeasurable mental and physical coordination skills and instant reflexes.

Even nature holds its breath when you are executing those exquisite, delicate chips to snatch victory in improbable conditions. Play to your level, don't play to the audience who mainly like hero shots ("In the hole!") and spectacle (after all, at this level the game is a spectator sport).

Tiger, the past is past and the moving finger having writ has moved on. Tomorrow? Who knows what it will bring but it surely needs to be greeted by you as only you know how.

Your father prophesied that you would make a huge impact for golf to this world. You have not done it yet, but it is there for you to do. The world needs you, the golfing universe needs you, millions of children who follow in your footsteps need you and the unfulfilled and unfinished legend needs you to finish the story properly -- in fading glory as skills diminish and not in being carried off the field unable to do battle.

You can put the mark of 'great human being' right next to the mark of 'greatest golfer ever'. 

See you at the Masters?

Sincerely,

Siddharth Shriram

Siddharth Shriram
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