Young Tiger Woods reveals the moment he stopped fearing other golfers
It goes without saying that Tiger Woods is one of the greatest, and most fascinating, athletes of all time. But figuring out exactly what makes him tick has been a perplexing question for all those following him. He’s become fiercely guarded of his personal life over the years as media attention around him has intensified – understandably so – which is why it’s often the oldest interviews that double as Tiger’s most telling.
A few months ago, my colleague Dylan Dethier went deep on this interview as part of his million-part Tiger Woods YouTube project. It’s a great read and, hungry for a bit more Tiger Woods content in my life, I decided to give it a re-read. And when I did, there was one moment that stuck out to me above the rest:
The moment Tiger Woods stopped being intimidated by other golfers.
At the time of the interview, Tiger Woods had already won two of his soon-to-be three U.S. Junior Am Championships, he was a junior in high school still being courted by college golf coaches, and he hadn’t even started winning U.S. Amateur Championships yet.
But with so much still ahead of Tiger, he took a moment to look backwards to tell a story about he stopped being intermediated by his fellow golfers.
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Tiger was 11 at the time, playing his first year in the 11-12 age division at the Junior Worlds when, on the very first tee, he watched an older player in the field drive the first green.
“It intimidated the hell out of me,” 17 year-old Tiger says in the video below.
But while he was shaken, Tiger shrugged it off. He played his game, and when he got off the course, he found out that he shot a lower score than the player than intimidated him on the first tee. That, Tiger said, was the moment everything changed.
“My dad and I had a long talk about it,” he said. “After that, nothing’s ever intimidated me. Ever.”
The Lesson: Build on the little little victories
It’s an interesting nugget from Tiger which, to me, highlights the important of winning little victories on the golf course. Golfers of all levels can learn from the lesson: You don’t need to shoot your low score every time you hit the course. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about building momentum, in your round and in your game.
Sometimes, that means setting a small, short-term goal — like shooting a lower score on the day over your opponent, or parring a hole, or hitting a fairway — and building on it from there. In Tiger’s case, it was a simple as trying to shoot a lower score on the day than the golfer who shocked him on the first tee. That got the ball rolling, and the rest is history.
Watch the full video below: