Reading Tiger Woods, Genius, I’m Thinking Writing

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After the PGA Championship on August 12 at Tulsa, Oklahoma, reading on Tiger Woods in the papers, as I read about great golf, I think about great writing all at the same time and on the same page. Believe me; I don’t know about golf, but I know my writing like Tiger Woods knows his golf – and beyond.

Golf is a sport. Writing is a sport, as a ‘sport’ is an ‘activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively’ (American Heritage Dictionary). A writer competes against other writers, or himself. That’s Tiger Woods. He competes against Ernie Els (South African), Woody Austin (American) and other great golfers, including Jack Nicklaus (another American, for the record); mostly he competes against himself. That’s a writer writing. Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite writers, competed against himself and lost. You call that Writer’s Block.

Under the oppressive Oklahoma heat for 4 days last week, up to 100 °F, each of the great golfers except one finds his Golfer’s Block, where the sporting body refuses to cooperate and the sporting mind quits in the middle of nowhere. You know the feeling. You’re lost. Your body merely pantomimes your golf.

Not Tiger Woods. ‘When I walked up 18 (the 18th hole), I felt the same way as I did going off the first tee. I felt great’ (Mechelle Voepel, August 16, kansascity.com). Well, I always feel great when I write, from beginning to end. In great golf as in great writing, you enjoy immensely what you’re doing.

Genius, what does Tiger Woods do to feel great in the heat of the competition and the heat of the sun? ‘At home, all the miles I log on the road and run in that heat … that’s what you do. You pay the price. You go outwork everybody, and days like today or weeks like this week, it shows’ (Voepel). As a writer, I log on the high road – the ‘information superhighway’ as Al Gore called it (Gregory Gromov, netvalley.com), and run in the heat of my intuition and my imagination – that’s what I do. I pay the uneasy price of venturing into the unknown, illogical, inconceivable, patently absurd – and come out the winner. Tiger Woods wins the PGA Championship in Oklahoma by 2 strokes. I win against insecurity.

Oklahoma? Not new to genius. ‘Oklahoma!’ was the first musical play written by Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyricist). The 1943 Broadway production was a box-office smash and ran for 2,212 performances (Wikipedia). Oklahoma’s recorded history starts in 1541 when Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez De Coronado explored the region for Spain (infoplease.com). Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry says of his people: ‘Oklahomans are visionary, creative, industrious. We are tenacious and resolute, traits we have exemplified again and again over the last century – most recently last month, when massive ice and snow storms battered our state’ (State of the State Address 2007, February 5, stateline.org). ‘We dream big, but we stay firmly rooted in our faith and our families. It is faith that gives us strength, and our families that give us comfort.’

To Tiger Woods, golf is dreaming big, but he stays firmly rooted in his faith and his family (especially his father, most especially his own family: his wife Elin Nordegren and firstborn Sam Alexis). The American faith is largely Protestant; Woods’ faith is largely Buddhist, from his mother, a Thai. My faith is largely Roman Catholic; first from my parents, Ilocanos from La Union in Northern Luzon; then through the Bukas Loob sa Diyos (BLD) in Los Baños, Laguna. You can dream bigger than big if you keep your faith and your family. It is your faith that gives you more than strength; it is your family that gives you more than comfort. ‘We can happily write and talk about Woods hugging his wife and baby after he raced past the other 155 PGA competitors like a whippet’ (Dave Sittler, August 15, tulsaworld.com).

Like I said, Tiger Woods is not a great golfer – he’s a genius.

‘Genius is not just in the numbers,’ Art Spander writes of Tiger Woods (August 14, insidebayarea.com). Tiger Woods is trying to show us how to mind the mind, not to mention the body.

Genius is learning to be one. From his father, Tiger Woods ‘learned to block out distractions during his shots’ (Encarta 2007). Me, I can block out any distraction, or divide my attention – you can talk to me while I’m writing. Genius is concentration. Writing of Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds (the new homerun king of baseball), Art Spander says:

Tiger and Bonds allow nothing to come between them and their goals. Barry comes first for Barry. Tiger comes first for Tiger. It must be that way for the great ones. They have put too much into the effort to be diverted. They have delineated the requisites.

Genius is sheer talent sharpened by experience, undeterred by bad vibes. Golf analysts say, ‘Tiger Woods has been flawed by working with (coach Hank) Haney’ and Patrick Reusse says, ‘even that can’t prevent him from being the best golfer in history’ (August 14, scrippsnews.com). Tiger says, ‘How to make adjustments on the fly just comes with experience’ (Greg Heakes, August 13, news.yahoo.com).

Genius is getting a feel of how to do it. Tiger Woods says, ‘You sort of begin to understand … the feel and the art of winning. I believe there is an art to winning and understanding to get it done’ (Heakes).

Genius is confidence. Michael Donaldson writes of Tiger (August 19, stuff.co.nz): ‘He’s pretty much untouchable in terms of confidence, which is half the battle.’ (Image from tigerwoods.com, his own website)

Genius is being proud of what you do. Tiger Woods says, ‘When my name’s on it, I give it everything I possibly have’ (AP, August 17, msnbc.com).

So? I must have genius.

And so must you.

Copyright 2007 August 20 by Frank A Hilario.
Also published by
American Chronicle in a slightly different version.
Researched for, organized-reorganized, formatted & hyperlinked via Microsoft Word 2003.

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