The Tiger effect was real.
When Tiger Woods was leading a tournament, it didn’t matter if he was playing well or playing poorly. He intimidated the other players to such a degree that it was easier for him to win than it would have been for the average player. That’s not a knock on his record. He had to do the things he did and prove what he proved to earn that respect and fear.
But then it all changed.
When Tiger came back the first time, after his personal problems, I was on the practice range for that first event. Tiger heard plenty of cheers, but there were also some boos. He looked different. He wasn’t the same intimidating player, and the other players responded accordingly. The culture of the tour shifted, and there was more room for more players to expand their game.
So we saw–and continue to see–a run of amazing young players hitting heroic shots with seemingly no fear. First Rory McIlroy, then Jordan Spieth and Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, and now Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open last week. They all play as if they’re ready to win multiple majors, because they are ready mentally. They’ve seen it in their minds, and it is a realistic, attainable goal for them.
A 5-under 67 in the final round of the 117th #USOpen earned @BKoepka his first major title and the @Lexus Top Performance of the Day. pic.twitter.com/AeTsgu9SDP
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 19, 2017
We’re in a new era, just like the time directly after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Runners then saw that was thought to be impossible was possible, and the record fell many more times. Now, we have players shooting 59 (and even 58) more regularly, and I think that’s something we’re going to see even more frequently.
The bar that was set by Tiger? It’s gone now, and there’s a new paradigm.When the great coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott started their Vision54 program to get players envisioning a “perfect” round of golf with 18 birdies, a lot of people laughed and said that was unattainable. But is, really?
Fifty-four isn’t so crazy–not with the power, athleticism and fearlessness of today’s players.