There are many cliché's in sports that hold true. And there are many that don't. But my favorite sports cliché that I do believe in is the "be the first one there and the last one to leave." It holds true in all sports, and it's what makes the good be great and the great become legends. And that's why Tiger Woods won't break Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 majors.
Before I get into the mental reasons that Tiger won't win, let's look at what Tiger has left to accomplish for the record. Phil Mickelson is one of the most successful golfers during the Tiger era, one of Tigers biggest rivals. And he's won 5 majors. That means Tiger Woods has to have the career of Phil Mickelson starting at age 38. That's a tall order to take, and I just don't think it's going to happen.
I saw the "first one in, last one out" cliché happen just two years ago in the NBA. Kobe Bryant lost a basketball game to the Miami Heat, and he was so disgusted with the way he played that he made the rest of his team wait as he put up jumpers for hours after the game. Tiger doesn't have that. Tiger is no longer passionate about his job as a golfer, and there's nothing wrong with that, but that's why he won't break Jack's record.
Michael Jordan would have made it in the MLB if it weren't for the MLB lockout. Why? I can tell you it wasn't because he was the best athlete on the field. It was because MJ would take two hours of batting practice before each game, play the game, and then he would take two more hours of batting practice. He was the first one there, and the last one to leave.
Tiger used to have this drive. I remember as a kid, I would see him on T.V. putting when it was almost pitch black. I remember stories where he would shoot a nice 68 and he was so frustrated with his play he would hit golf balls until the camera's couldn't see him anymore. Now Tiger shoot's a 68 and he is content. He'll tell the media about how he missed a few putts here and there. The Tiger I grew up watching would have been on the putting green fixing that problem by rolling one ball after another.
People talk about the "Sunday Magic" that Tiger just doesn't seem to have anymore. Guess what? Tiger Magic isn't real. Oh you mean the best putter of all time made putt after putt in the clutch? That's like athlete's thanking God for where they are in life. Maybe athletes are given to tools to become great, but they were the ones working their asses off day in and day out to become as great. Do you want to know where the "Tiger Magic" came from?
The "Tiger Magic" came from Tiger Woods working himself harder than anyone else. "Tiger Magic" came from the swing work he put in during the offseason, the waking up in the early morning and getting his run in, and playing 36 holes a day. Don't tell me that Tiger had this magic that no other golfer had. No, Tiger had the work ethic that no other golfer had. Tiger Woods won the U.S Open on a ruptured ACL and a broken leg. That's not magic. That's Tiger Woods working harder than everyone else in the world.
But since the scandal, something has changed in Tiger Woods. He is no longer obsessed with being the greatest. I honestly can't remember the last time that Tiger went to a putting green after a tough round. In an interview with ESPN, he was asked what were to happen if he didn't break Jack's record, and Tiger replied "Well, it's been a fun ride." That's not the Tiger Woods that once said "I don't want to be the best black golfer. I want to be the best golfer. Period." Or "The Grand Slam is easily within reach, it can be done, I've proved it can be done."
When asked what he did in the offseason, Tiger said "didn't do much" because he needed a break. This is coming off of a season where he didn't win a major. AGAIN. That's not the "first in, last out" cliché mentality that won him 14 majors. It just isn't. Right now Tiger is just another golfer, and if he gets hot at the right time, sure he can win majors, but not 5 in 10 years. Tiger is just not the dedicated player that he used to be. Right now he looks like Rocky Balboa in the beginning of Rocky III. He's content, with no drive to become better, but more of a "happy go lucky" guy. Maybe it's because he's trying to change his image, maybe he's realized there's more to life than hitting a white golf ball into a hole 18 times in the least amount of club swings. Who knows.
The only reason there is no "Tiger Magic" anymore is because Tiger just doesn't have the drive to create it.
But you'll still find me pulling for Tiger harder than anyone else, living and dying by each stroke. But man would it be nice for Clubber Lang to come around and knock Tiger down far enough to the point where he is back to the "first one on the putting green, last one off the driving range" mentality. But until then we are just watching another talented golfer with the same chance as everyone else. And that isn't going to get you a "Big Lefty" career starting at age 38.
"First one on the course, last one off the course."