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Tiger Verses

TigerWoods1997

I’ve been writing verses about Tiger, his successes and failures, for years. My first poem, “A Masters Chip for the Ages” described his historic chip shot from off the 16th green in 2005 when he won his third Masters. Now, after his fourth win 14 years later, and all that has happened in between, I thought I would put all of my Tiger verses together in one Post. And that is what follows.

A Masters Chip for the Ages

From a difficult lie beyond
the steeply sloped sixteenth green

a steely-eyed Tiger sent his ball
to a spot far above the hole,

the ball coming crisply off his wedge,
flew low, bounced once

and rolled on a yard or two
until gravity took over,

causing it to turn sharply,
and start slowly down the slope

towards the hole, speeding up
then slowing again as it got closer.

“All of a sudden,” Tiger’s words,
“it looked really good.”

“How could it not go in?” and
when it stopped, a single turn short,

“How did it not go in?”,
“And all of a sudden it went in.”

It was as if Tiger’s will
had given gravity an assist.

“In your life,” the tower announcer’s voice,
“have you seen anything like that?”

While around him, the patrons’ roar
rose rocket-like, fueled by sheer wonder.

 

I did not write about Tiger again until the beginning of the 2010 golf season. This was after his car accident in November of 2009 and the revelations of private life. Here is my take on what was ahead for the pro tour and Tiger. (The reference to “Vedra-ville” is to Ponte Vedra Beach, the home of the PGA Tour.)

Tiger on the Mat
(With thanks and apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

 The outlook isn’t brilliant for the Pro Golf Tour this year;
At least at the beginning, there’ll be one less pro to cheer.
No his name it isn’t Casey, but he’s known to be a swinger,
And his story much like Casey’s must be classed as one humdinger!

[Skipping the 10 stanzas that tell Tiger’s sad story which you already
know (or think you know), we move to the last eight lines.]

 The smile is gone from Tiger’s face, his teeth banged up from hate,
Was he pounded with cruel violence, a club upon his plate?
And now his sponsors keep their cash as he has dropped the ball,
And now the golf world’s shattered by the length of Tiger’s fall.

 Oh, somewhere on a golf course, the sun is shinning bright;
A foursome’s playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere dubs are laughing, and somewhere “fore” is shouted;
But there is no joy in Vedra-ville – mighty Tiger has been outed.

 

In 2010, I joined Twitter, which was still quite new, and created what I called a “Twine,” which was a two line poem specifically for Twitter followers. During the year I wrote a number of Twines about Tiger’s troubles that now also included a disc problem and a coaching change.

Second thoughts Twine:
Had Tiger come clean before being hounded,
Could he have escaped without being pounded?

Where’s Tiger and for How Long Twine:
Tiger’s missing from the scene,
What does “indefinite” really mean?

Endless Tiger Story Twine:
The media still feeds off Tiger’s sad tale,
But the word stew they offer is turning quite stale.

 A Tiger Hater Twine:
He swings at Tiger as he would a golf ball,
What drives him has no sweet spot at all.

Tiger Returns Twine:
With Tiger’s announcement the suspense is suspended,
His “indefinite” leave is definitely ended.

 Masters 2010 Twine:
The joy of golf is finally back,
Tiger’s in and again chasing Jack.

The Canadian Doctor and Swing Doctor Twine:
Tiger’s bulging, Haney’s out
Twitterers have more to twit about.

 Tiger’s On Course Troubles Twine:
Speculation is the game sports writers love to play
And with Tiger now a duffer they are having a field day.

 Tiger Divorce Twine:
Now it’s over, the marriage’s busted
What’s Tiger left with – a swing untrusted.

 All in all, a sad story and arguably Tiger’s worst year.

 

In 2011, he was without a coach, playing injured and poorly. He stopped play for a while and then after returning he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. During this time the many critics offered Tiger a wide array of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” to bring him back to championship form. Here’s are my observations at the time:

Tiger Should or Shouldn’t

The ailing failing Tiger Woods
Is being hounded by the “shoulds”

 Should do this, should do that
To get away from where he’s at.

He should Harmon-ize again,
But this is now and that was then.

He should get his head on straight,
It’s not his swing, let’s not conflate.

Tiger Woods should come alive,
Else golfing revenues take a dive.

The “shouldn’t” folks are out there too
Telling Woods what not to do.

He shouldn’t bulk up quite so much,
It’s causing him to lose his touch.

He shouldn’t listen to any coach
Trusting instead in his own approach.

Or maybe Tiger shouldn’t care
And just move his glutes to a rocking chair.

But I’m bettin’ when Tiger comes back
He won’t look like any hack.

 

Around this time I also wrote a poem called “If Golf Balls Could Talk.” It began

If golf balls could talk
What would they say?
That might depend on
Who put them in play.

With regard to Tiger’s ball, I wrote,

Tiger’s ball
Might make no sound
It’s bored after all
From sitting around.

And I ended the poem with this verse,

What about your ball,
What about mine?
They might just keep silent
And that would be fine.

 

By 2017, Tiger had had three back surgeries, had problems with over-medication for back pain, and did not play. I summed up the year with the following,

Tiger Missing

Didn’t watch much golf this year
Not a lot to cheer about
Spieth had his moments, Thomas too;
But I missed Tiger -What about you?

In June of 2017, a New York Times op-ed writer opined that Tiger was not winning anymore “because he got old.” When asked at a President’s Cup press conference in late September if he would play again, Tiger Woods responded, “I don’t know what my future holds.” At that time, it was also reported that in his attempt at recovery he had gone beyond putting and was now hitting shots with his wedges. These reports led me to the following (with apologies to T.S. Eliot),

Not With a Bang

If Tiger is through,
Then so ends our riches –
Not with a bang,
But 60 yard pitches.

 

In December of 2017, a long while after his fourth back surgery, Tiger made his first start tying for ninth at the Hero World Challenge tournament in the Bahamas. At the time, I wrote, “Today Tiger begins yet another comeback from back surgery. The scenario has become familiar. The question is whether the outcome will be different. I have tried to recast all of this in four short lines.”

Tiger’s Back

Tiger’s back?
Two questions in one?
Will it hold up in play?
Is his winning done?

When Tiger successfully completed that tournament without injury, the golf writers had a field day (again) speculating about almost every future possibility. That was fine, but I suspected Tiger’s focus was much narrower.

Speculation

Now that Tiger’s playing again,
Conjecture rules the day.
While Tiger’s thinking (here’s my guess)
Please, just let me play.

Now, after a layoff of almost a year, Tiger was in Hawaii for the beginning of the 2018 season and beginning to hit the ball well. As is my nature, I became optimistic,

He’s Back

The new golf season,
Starting kind of strange.
That incoming Hawaiian missile –
A Tiger launch from the driving range.

 

2018 proved to be a good year for Tiger. In the last two Majors he was in contention and could have won. But, we would have to wait until this year for his 15th Major win last week at the Masters. My last two Tiger verses consider both sides of this amazing comeback.

The cynical side,

Wood$

Tiger’s play –
The best in years;
Golf’s retailers –
Leading the cheers.

And what I felt personally,

Playing Like Tiger

Could Tiger be playing like Tiger again?
It sure has been a while;
But if you’re a fan of golf at all,
It can only make you smile.

Leon S White, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

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