[Viewpoint] How to beat Tiger

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[Viewpoint] How to beat Tiger

Yang Yong-eun, the Korean professional golfer who won the PGA Championship last month, was asked, “If you played Tiger Woods in the last round, round 4, again, do you think you could win?”

Yang, known as Y.E. Yang in the golfing world, replied, “I would try to play my style of golf again, as I did last time. I would do my best even if there were no guarantee that I would win.”

It was a short reply but it indicated a lot, because his words were the “sermon of a winner.” Tiger Woods is known to professional golfers as being unconquerable.

It is a professional golfer’s greatest anxiety to play Tiger Woods on the last day of a tournament when he is in the lead. Just seeing his red shirt makes the hearts of other players shudder with fear.

The Chicago Tribune once described the anxiety as like having surgery without any anesthesia. The paper said people experience extreme fear when they lie on a cold operating table, a similar sensation to playing the last round with Tiger Woods in a major championship.

So how did Yang swing so boldly and putt so precisely under such pressure? Golfer Choi Kyoung-ju (K.J. Choi) once explained to me the “tension” he felt going into the last round on top. “Take an elastic band out of the freezer. It does not twist well. It is the same with golf. If the body becomes tense it secretes lactic acid, and then the waist doesn’t twist, just like an elastic band out of the freezer. This is even truer than what was in the last round,” he said.

The “secret” Choi Kyoung-ju chose was to read the Bible. Walking from the tee ground to the second shot, he read a piece of paper with passages from the Bible on it. The reason was simple: It was to forget “golf” and forget about winning. Ultimately, it was to get rid of any fear or instability.

Yang said the same. When asked, “What would you do if you had to play Tiger Woods?” he said, “I would play my own style of golf.” It means he would try not to be shaken by the red shirt. He then added, “I would do my best, even if I might not win.”

The words of these players flash across my mind. Their know-how can be applied to further fields, not just the links.

It is a secret that can be applied to life, too. All people meet “their own Tiger Woods” in their lives. Sometimes Tiger is within themselves, and sometimes it is someone else.

Every time someone is faced with a Tiger Woods, the “fear of the operating table” becomes palpable. After all, it is not easy to beat an opponent in any discipline or walk of life.

What we need whenever this happens is “our own style of golf.” We need our own style of life that puts aside fears and obsessions. We need our own style of walk that does not look at results and the product but focuses more on the process - how we get to where we want to go and whether we will enjoy the journey. It is putting away fear of the red shirt and desires of victory at a major competition, and doing one’s best.

Golf and life are very similar. They both take a lot of energy. “Wisdom” takes a lot of energy out of the mind, and “good shots” take a lot of energy out of the body.

When you use up energy like this, you get the power to beat your own Tiger Woods.

*The writer is a sports reporter for the JoongAng Ilbo

by Baik Sung-ho
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