All golfers understand intuitively the pursuit of that blend of Zen calm and athletic aggressiveness that goes hand-in-hand with the best performance. Perhaps no one combined the two better than Tiger Woods in his prime. He had a fuse but usually lit it only to motivate himself, rather than ignite some destructive internal dynamite. During his Tiger Slam, he seemed to be a private world of indestructible confident calm.
What now? On Friday, we saw Woods in a perfectionist’s torment, dropping clubs, closing his eyes in disgust, his whole body deflating as he missed putts he used to make. You glimpse how mercilessly golf waits for your serenity, your sense of self or skill or dignity, to alter or deteriorate, or simply change in any way, so that it can drive you deeper into your private perditions — all while you perform in public. Woods has changed so many parts of himself in the last 30 months that he may need some new “golf temperament” appropriate to who he is now or who he wants to be.