Tiger Woods won the 13th professional golf major championship of his career Sunday by winning the PGA Championship held at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In the process, he silenced critics who seem to delight in highlighting the perceived weaknesses in his game. Yes, the undisputed greatest golfer of his generation, if not the greatest golfer of all-time, has critics. In an era in professional sports of dog-fighting quarterbacks, game-throwing referees and chemically enhanced athletes of all disciplines, it is amazing that anyone would waste any negative energy on Tiger Woods. However, the way Tiger Woods handles his business, and his critics, gives us all a blueprint for how we should approach our own pursuit of greatness.
In the eyes of his critics, Tiger Woods’ crime this season has been not winning every major tournament he enters. Prior to winning this year’s PGA Championship, Tiger haters were eager to label his 2007 season a failure despite his many accomplishments. Despite the fact that Tiger’s “failure” (4 prior wins, 3 top 12 finishes in majors, and leading the PGA money list) is a better season than any of his top rivals have posted this year, the media coverage about Tiger last week focused primarily on his “failure” to win a major championship. One “expert” even suggested that if Tiger were to fail again at the 2007 PGA Championship by finishing anywhere but first, the season would be so disastrous as to warrant the firing of his swing coach.
Even after the win, there are critics who are saying that Tiger did not win the PGA Championship well enough, that he was effective, but not emphatic. Such is the life of Tiger Woods. He is no longer compared to his present day competitors or the even to greatest golfers in the history of his sport. His critics only compare him to perfection and therefore he always destined to come up short.
Fortunately, Tiger knows what we all must learn about critics. It is simply much easier to criticize something significant than to do something significant. Those that “do” must suffer the slings and arrows of those who can’t comprehend the greatness that “doers” seek. Those that judge never compete for greatness and therefore never have to face such scrutiny. After all, no one critiques the critic. The “doer” courageously trades the opportunity for greatness for the certainty of being judged regardless of the result. The “doer” loves greatness more than he or she fears its price. Tiger knows that critics, by definition, cannot be satisfied. Therefore, he simply continues to paint his masterpieces trusting only his eye for beauty.
I have never been one to “hate on” greatness. In Tiger’s case especially, I find it refreshing to be reminded that there are athletes that can teach us more about life than simply the nuances of our American legal system. By watching Tiger Woods work, we can learn many positive lessons applicable to our own lives. If the best golfer any of us has ever seen has critics, we will too. Therefore, we must keep our own list of counselors short and ignore the rest. If critics cannot be pleased under any circumstances, set your goals incredibly high and make them work to find your faults. Dare to be great, take your shot, and then leave the debate for those too frightened to abandon their pens, pads and computer screens.
As you contemplate the latest masterwork by Tiger Woods, don’t look for fault, but admire it in all its beauty. Then, recognizing that he who does, even he who does and fails, is infinitely closer to greatness than he who simply chronicles the attempt, turn away from Tiger’s masterpiece and begin painting one of your own.Powered by Sidelines