Tiger Woods on Regional Cover of This Week’s Sports Illustrated

SI-2Inside This Week’s Sports Illustrated:

Tiger Woods Might Be Back; Thinks He Can Win 20 Majors

(NEW YORK – April 2, 2013) – After six wins in his last 20 events and a return to the No. 1 world ranking, Tiger Woods is the clear favorite to win next week’s Masters for the first time in five years. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday, senior writer Michael Rosenberg uncovers the numerous life changes that have helped Woods find inner peace and bring his game back to an elite level. Woods appears on a regional cover of this week’s SI, his 23rd all-time cover. Rosenberg writes that since 2010:

“Woods has revamped his swing yet again; been divorced; hired a new instructor; switched caddies; changed putters; recovered from knee and Achilles-tendon injuries; moved from inland Orlando to the coastal Florida town of Jupiter, where he and Elin share custody of their five-year-old daughter, Sam, and four-year-old son, Charlie; switched home courses; started dating Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn; and returned to No. 1 in the World Ranking.” (PAGE 62)

After interviewing Woods’s friends, fellow PGA players, former instructors, his coach and caddie, Rosenberg finds that all of these life changes have Woods now at peace with his worldwide attention and have him set on making history. It has always been speculated that Woods was hunting Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. Notah Begay, former PGA Tour player and one of Woods’s best friends since childhood says: “He is focused on 20. That may be a little hard to believe, considering what’s transpired in the last three years, but that’s where his focus is. He thinks he is capable of winning 20 majors. (PAGE 62)

Tiger’s quest for greatness started when he was a child prodigy. Rosenberg finds that the numerous stories suggesting Tiger’s father Earl strategically planned his son’s destiny are false. Says Tiger’s first coach, Rudy Duran: “Earl was way less pushy, was less trying to groom a touring pro than most of the parents.” Rosenberg notes that Earl actually had to push Tiger away from the course toward school at times. He writes “the father was not obsessed. The child was.” (PAGE 62)

Tiger’s obsession with greatness had him working very closely with his coach and caddie early in his career. Tiger’s former coach Hank Haney was known to overload him with information, while his former caddie Steve Williams infamously would stand up against photographers, spectators and fellow golfers. Rosenberg writes that Woods now relies on coach Sean Foley to just coach and caddie Joe LaCava to just caddie, as they help him prepare using a simpler, more hands off approach.  Rosenberg writes: “He (Foley) wants Woods’s swing to hold up under pressure. He gives detailed answers to Woods’s questions but doesn’t micromanage his swing thoughts.” (PAGE 64)

Woods used to snap at his former caddie and coach, but LaCava says Woods has not blamed him once for a bad club choice or read on the green and that after his Torrey Pines victory, he told LaCava: “We won this F—— tournament!” (PAGE 64)

Woods is treating everyone better these days and working hard at it. His friend Steve Stricker tells Rosenberg: “I think he learned a lot from a couple of years ago: Be more cordial to everybody, respect other people. He is happier with himself. You can see it. Just the way he is treating people is better. It looks like he is working hard it.” (PAGE 65)

Fellow golfers are noticing the change in Woods as well. While they hadn’t spoken in years, Casey Martin was pleasantly surprised to see this tweet from @TigerWoods after Martin qualified for the U.S. Open last spring: “Simply incredible. Ability, attitude and guts. See you at Olympic Casey.” (PAGE 66)

Woods is now a member at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., where you’ll find him working on his game, playing Rory McIlory or Bubba Watson in a 36-hole duel or perhaps the biggest change—calling staffers by their first names and chatting with them before heading to the first tee. He still has the same competitive drive he has always had since he was a child prodigy, but Rosenberg says the 37-year old now simply “looks happy.” (PAGE 66)

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Also in this week’s SI:

 

·         Luke Winn and Kelli Anderson take you inside the inspiring runs by Louisville and Wichita State to the Final Four. Both schools are featured on regional covers of this week’s SI.

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