Defining a champion

In his column on December 30, 2011, Farrell Evans offered a birthday message to Tiger Woods that missed the point with respect to the world of champion athletes.

To begin, Evans referenced Andy Miller, the son of golfer Johnny Miller. Andy Miller has never finished in the top 25 on the PGA tour and has not played in any tournaments this season. After leaving the tour in 2003, to do missionary work Miller said that what he missed most about the game, according to Evans was the simplicity and peacefulness of walking the fairways. A champion who decided that it was time to quit and pursue a new interest would miss nothing.

Evans then writes of "our enslavement to outcomes" and its impact to "our growth as athletes and human beings". This would be an interesting topic to dissect in great detail, but according to my research champions do not consider themselves "enslaved" to outcomes. Winning requires an absolute focus on outcomes. This focus is part of the requirement to become a champion. For the champion, the focus and effort required to win and win and win is a choice.

Next Evans references the advice given to recent PGA Tour Q-school graduate Richard H. Lee by his mother-in-law. "Welcome the ball," she said. "Wherever the ball ends up, just welcome the situation." While these words might be very helpful to someone in need of base level sport psychology help, for the champion there is a nuance. The champion golfer will have practiced every possible lie and condition possible so that "welcoming the situation" is a given and making the best shot is the goal.

The pursuit of perfection is another stone along the path towards becoming a champion. If it is a burden as Evans suggests, then becoming a champion would be impossible. Playing the game for the love of it is not mutually exclusive from being a champion. In fact, it is one of the pillars that supports the career of any champion. Simply stated, if a champion does not love the game it would be impossible to put in the necessary effort to win.

Rather than question Tiger's win at the Chevron, evoke the words of someone who has never won or paraphrase the thoughtful words of the mother-in-law of a recent Q-School graduate, Farrell Evans should stick with his simple wish that Tiger have peace of mind.

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