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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/2/2004

Competition for golf in Tiger's life

How could he have known? No way, no how, did Tiger Woods realize how being in a committed relationship would hinder his golf game.

It's like trying to prepare for having a baby.

No matter how good your intentions are, you can't adjust to suddenly having to wake up in the middle of the night to comfort a crying newborn, to changing dirty diapers, to placing another person's needs ahead of your own.

For Woods, whose focus has been strictly on golf since he was knee-high to a putter, permitting another person to share the intimate details of his life has been great personally, not so great professionally.

Woods, who has been living with fiancee Elin Nordegren for about two years, is 0-for-8 in majors following an incredible stretch of winning seven of 11 majors.

Earl Woods saw this coming.

The old man predicted three years ago his son would hurt his career by settling down with one woman.

He said Tiger, now 28, shouldn't get married until he was in his 30s.

How many times, however, can a son listen to his father until he finally takes control of his life?

Woods is no different in that regard. He had to strike out on his own and erase the stigma of being a one-dimensional golfer with no outside interests.

Become his own man.

This isn't a pity party for Tiger.

According to Forbes magazine, Woods earned $80.3 million over the past year and is the world's highest-paid athlete. He's currently No. 1 in the world rankings and fourth on the PGA Tour money list.

Woods is one of sport's great entertainers.

The last athlete with Woods' worldwide appeal was Michael Jordan.

The sporting public's

fascination with every aspect of Woods' life has carried over to his relationship with Nordegren and what effect that may have on him not winning a major in two years.

Woods said being engaged has not hurt his golf game.

He continues to insist that the problems he's experienced winning majors are linked strictly to the golf course.

In fact, while speaking to

reporters this week at the Western Open, Woods said he patched up his differences with Butch Harmon, his former swing coach, creating speculation that the two might become a team again.

Woods believes Harmon stabbed him in the back at this year's U.S. Open by saying Tiger might be in a "bit of denial" over his swing troubles.

The old Tiger - self-absorbed and stubborn - might have carried a grudge against Harmon forever.

The new Tiger - wiser and engaged to be married - took the first step toward repairing his fractured relationship with Harmon.

A woman can convince her man to do almost anything. Wives, fiancees and girlfriends wield tremendous influence.

Who knows, Nordegren could have convinced Woods to pick up the phone and end his feud with Harmon.

A Woods-Harmon reunion might be the catalyst for Tiger's return to dominance.



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