Monday, April 5, 2010

MASTERS IM-PRESSER: "It's not about championships. It's about how you live your life."

To many people's surprise, including mine, there were plenty of great things to come out of Tiger's Monday morning press conference.

Did he say what type of treatment he was in? No, but he said he's never received treatment for Ambien/Vicodin, which essentially answers that lingering question. Did he give any more details of the late-night crash? No.

BUT there were so many other things that seemed honest and genuine about Tiger Woods this morning, that he's either been taking acting classes in between rehab, or we are indeed seeing a different and better person.

**He said that it was "wrong of him" to ignore fans. That he "under appreciated" them. And that he will be making a conscious effort to behave differently (at least during practice rounds) to give them a little more love.

**He also admitted he'd been getting too "hot" on the course, and that he won't be as emotional. But that also goes for his exuberance when he wins. That's what golf fans call a win-lose.

**He said he started taking Ambien when his dad was sick and Vicodin on and off because of knee problems but has never needed treatment for either.

**He tore his Achilles in December 2008 while training for his return to golf in February. His ankle was wrapped for most of 2009 and affected how far he could hit it. And yet the guy still won 6 times in 2009?! Amazing.

**He missed his son's first birthday in February because he was in treatment and said it's a regret of his he will never forget. When you think of how devoted Earl was to Tiger, you understand how true this must be.

But to me the biggest wow moments were the following:

**Regarding his on course accomplishments over the last few years:

"The fact I won golf tournaments is irrelevant."

**Regarding playing golf again:

"It feels fun again. That's something I've been missing." And why hasn't it been fun? "Why? Look at what I've been engaged in."

**And regarding his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors, the thing that has been Tiger's motivation and the sole focus of Team IMG for years...

"It's not about championships. It's about how you live your life.... I need to be a better man than I was before... If I win championships along the way, so be it."

WHOA. Who is this guy?

What made me respect and appreciate Tiger Woods over the course of 2008 was his focus, his commitment to improvement, his pursuit of excellence and showing that wanting to win is not a bad thing.

He still wants to win, that's the goal when he tees it up Thursday. But it's not as important as other things. Tiger has said just that for years, "family first..." but obviously that was a hollow sentiment. Now I think he believes it. And to that he must be given some credit. It's what I'd hoped he would do back in December but had no idea if he would or could.

Only time will tell if the reorganization of Tiger's priorities will have an adverse affect on the number of Green Jackets, Claret Jugs, U.S. Open and Wanamaker trophies he has in his house. For now at least, Tiger Woods seems more concerned with who's in his family room, than what's on the wall.