You've been there. So have I. Just not on such a stage with that many people staring, examining your every single move. And just not blessed with that much innate ability waiting to be unleashed again.
You've left one in a bunker, say, and up-and-down for par suddenly becomes bogey or worse.
As you stand on the next tee, batting fourth, you're still thinking about why you let the sand get to you. Your drive sails dead right, near the hazard.
And it just gets worse and worse.
It must be where Tiger is today. He has turned his game into such an awkward mental exercise and one mistake leads to another and another.
And everybody, I mean, every body, is watching.
Once upon a time, he had the strongest mind in all of sports. Nobody could out-think him. That can't just go away, can it? You can't dumb yourself down, can you?
Surely not. But you can grip your brain so tight that you squeeze out any enjoyment, any natural feeling.
We've been there, just not on his level with his talent and on his stage.
And because we've been there, we know the answer is just one no-brainer away.
Like the bad times, the good can take over, too. You not only get up-and-down from that bunker but you make the shot for birdie. Now as you stand on that next tee, your mind sails. Your swing is fluid and confident.
You've heard it a hundred times, maybe that many from your own lips.
"Shot the strangest 78! Front side 44, back side 34. Go figure. Missed everything on the front but couldn't miss a thing on the back!"
Surely the answer to Tiger's self-destruction couldn't be that simple, could it? He couldn't just think his way out of this quicksand, could he?
So many people have gladly sent him packing, done with him and his surly demeanor, delighted with the young stars who have charged far ahead of him now.
I keep pulling. I was there in '97, at every stop in 2000, and I remember how that felt, how glad I was to be a small part of that wonderful era.
It seems to be long-gone now, a flickering historical epic . But I tend not to let things go away easily and so I keep pulling, hoping for the magic to return.
Sorta like my game.