Tiger Woods’ legendary focus was the theme of David Brooks’ June 17 column, “the Frozen Gaze,” about the recent U.S. Open contest between Woods and Rocco Mediate. Brooks noted that “Mediate’s head swiveled about ...Somebody would catch his attention, and his eyes would dart over and he’d wave or make a crack. Tiger Wood’s gaze, on the other hand, remained fixed on the ground, a few feet ahead of his steps. He was, as always, locked in, focused and self-contained.”
That ability to focus is not innate. Wood’s father, Earl,used to drop his golf bag while his son was swinging to toughen Tiger’s mind. It apparently worked. The golfer is famously self-controlled. “His press conferences are a string of carefully modulated banalities. His lifestyle is meticulously tidy. His style of play is actuarial. He calculates odds and avoids unnecessary risks like the accounting major he once planned on being.” notes Brooks. “‘I am, by nature, a control freak,’ he once told John Garrity of Sports Illustrated, as Garrity resisted the temptation to reply, ‘You think?’”
“This level of focus and performance is the difference between Woods and the rest of us mortals” notes David Brooks while lamenting his own ability to ignore everyday distractions while writing. “Woods seems able to mute the chatter that normal people have in their heads and build a tunnel of focused attention.”
Possibly Woods has been able to harness higher levels of dither than the rest of us, resulting in his greater focus than that of the average person. This weekend, after donning my whites to play croquet in my backyard with friends, I plan to add a little noise – some extraneous vibrations – to the mix. Who knows? It could prove to be just the advantage I need.