Tiger Woods hypnotizes himself on the golf course, a skill that allows him to stave off nerves and keep focus. The new documentary Tiger reveals that this has long been a tactic that Woods employs in tournaments. PGA great Nick Faldo notes that it can appear at times that Woods is simply in the zone, when in fact he is in an actual state of self-induced hypnosis.
"Earl [Woods] did everything he could to toughen his boy up, and one of the things that really made Tiger incredibly strong was this ability that he had taught to him by his father‘s friend who is a naval psychological ops operative," explains a family friend during the documentary. That man was "basically a psychologist," and in the end he successfully taught Woods "to hypnotize himself."
It is a skill that even his peers are in awe of when they see it come out in competition. His former golf coach was equally impressed when he saw Woods start using this technique at such a young age. "People say, 'Oh, Tiger's in the zone,' but he literally was in some sort of a trance — which is an amazing thing that you would do for a kid that was 13 or 14."
It is hard to overstate how dominant Woods was when he burst onto the golf scene. The closest comparison would probably be Martina Hingis, who went pro around the same time as Tiger and was somehow even more of a force in the world of women's tennis. In both cases, however, the athletes had a mental resilience that is seldom seen in rookie athletes as well as an assuredness that belied their age.
Hingis came out of nowhere, however, when she started rewriting the record books at the age of 15 with her first Grand Slam win, while Woods faced a far different challenge. Many had followed his brief career at Stanford, which he left after two years following his third consecutive U.S. Amateur win and first ever NCAA Championship.
Woods seemed unfazed, however, by these lofty expectations and came out strong by winning three PGA tournaments and the 1997 Masters Tournament on his way to reaching number one in the golf rankings. Much of this had to do with the years of practice and skill Woods had developed, but there was also that mental toughness.
This would serve him well when, starting in 2000, he went on a six-year tear in which he won 10 majors and made the cut in 142 consecutive tournaments. The wheels started to come off soon after this, however, and by 2010 many had counted Woods out. But he worked to rebuild and in 2019 got to stand back in the spotlight with his victory at the 2019 Masters.
It seems, however, that the hypnosis is no longer a part of Woods' games, and he has instead found other ways to motivate and prepare himself for battle.