The Tiger Woods Guide to
Succeeding Online

Tiger Woods

After hearing he had a torn ligament and a double stress fracture of his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods looked at the doctor and said, “I’m playing in the U.S. Open, and I’m going to win.”

Win he did, which is amazing in its own right. Even more remarkable is the level of dedication and focus Tiger had to play 91 holes over five days on a severely injured knee that was getting worse.

But the thing that truly demonstrates the man’s character is he never mentioned the torn ACL or the stress fractures. Some talking-head pundits were speculating as recently as yesterday that the knee wasn’t all that bad.

Tiger may have used his golf club as a cane, but he refused to use his injury as a crutch. It would be easy to let the media know how bad the knee was as an easy advance excuse for losing.

His silence makes for a more legendary story, right?

It’s a lot easier to succeed online than it is to become the greatest golfer who ever lived. But to succeed, you do have to have dedication and focus.

And when you encounter obstacles, you make adjustments, investments, and even sacrifices. But never excuses.

About the Author: Brian Clark is the founding editor of Copyblogger, and co-founder of Teaching Sells and Lateral Action. Get to know Brian better by following him on Twitter.

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  1. Dear Brian,

    Although I do not comment on this site too frequently, I read every article and practice a lot of your methodology. Today I just wanted to drop by and say thank you for this wonderful post. These kind of stories always bring a huge smile to my face. I find a humble hero to be so inspirational.

    Thank you bud.

  2. I’ve always liked Tiger, but I was rooting for Rocco towards the end. You’ve gotta love the underdog.

    But what if Rocco had won, only then to find out about Tiger’s knee? That would be awfully deflating, don’t you think?

  3. @Hunter, in one one hand it would be deflating, on the other hand he would have beat out everybody else and still deserved the win.

  4. Very nice read. Although I don’t follow golf much but am a fan of Tiger and it was really nice to read about him. The best part of the post was the ease with which the story about Tiger was used to narrate a point.

    Well done once again.

  5. I’m guilty of using my exams as an excuse these couple of days. Thank you for that short and simple yet helpful post that will hopefully make me stop making excuses!

  6. Hunter — It’s a valiant effort on Tiger’s part either way. Better to go down in flames than never give it a shot in the first place!

    And hey, second place pays pretty well at the Open ;)

  7. Here’s my question to people just coming in. Interesting in your speculation really. If Tiger won second, do you think he would say he had an off day, or blame it on his knee?

  8. you gotta hand it to the guy. Retief Goosen (perhaps tongue in cheek) said: ‘ You have to wonder whether Tiger’s injury was genuine.’ or words to that effect. After all, he is human, isn’t he?

  9. Well, all this is true, of course–you shouldn’t let obstacles get you down. But have you heard that he reinjured his knee so that he’s now going to miss out the entire rest of 2008?

    So, you can’t let obstacles stop you, true, but at the same time, sometimes you have to pay attention to what they’re telling you. Some obstacles (like, say, post-surgical knee pain) are there for a reason.

  10. Alex, Tiger had to have season-ending surgery whether he won or not, so I think he wouldn’t have to say a word.

    Deb, I just caught a bit of talking-head debate (imagine that) about whether Tiger did the right thing. Hard to say, considering even if he never plays again his legacy is that much more legendary. And he doesn’t need to money.

    My main point was “no excuses.” We don’t have to be self-destructive… but whining rarely leads to winning. :-)

  11. As Brian says it’s all just a testament to Wood’s character and enormous reserves of strength and inner-belief.

    Having said that, one of the most interesting stats in his major-winning career – and he’s up to 14 now, just four short of Jack Nicklaus’ record – is that he is still yet to win a slam coming from behind. In other words, he’s always led or tied going into the final day.

    I’m not sure what that really means, if anything, but it does suggest to me that even the great Mr Woods has a limit in how far his own sheer willpower can take him. I’d like to see him do it, if only once, before his career comes to an end – coming from behind to win his 19th major, and breaking Nicklaus’ total, would be a fantastic way to ice that cake.

    On a side note, money hasn’t been an issue for Tiger for years, and I doubt he could care any less about finishing as first runner-up in any tournament, but according to Golf Digest, Woods made $769,440,709 from 1996 to 2007, and is on track to be the first athlete to earn $1bn by 2010.

    @ Alex – “Interesting in your speculation really. If Tiger won second, do you think he would say he had an off day, or blame it on his knee?”

    No. Woods is usually a very gracious loser and he would have known, as he proved here, that knee or otherwise he had the ability and belief to win.

  12. I think it great to see people who have difficulties but don’t use them as excuses.

    The problem is you often don’t hear about them unless others point it out :)

  13. As I am reading this the news telecast just said no more golf for Tiger Woods this year. I think he made a good showing. Grace under pressure. How much more sweet the rest will be and the recuperation for having really delivered.

  14. Thats passion I feel, it’s the love of the game that push him forward even his got an injury, just like every passionate blogger and marketer out there, even if fails they try and try again, no matter if success is just as thin as a razor’s edge…

  15. While I agree that Tiger is a warrior and there is a lot we can learn from him, I wonder if the better choice would have been to not push himself so hard to play in this open – but rather let his knee fully heal so he could play the rest of the year.

    In that case, there would be no applicable lesson to online marketing…except to “play it safe if you want to play a lot more”. Hopefully he heals to 100%.

  16. Whoa. TV ratings go down 25% if Tiger is not playing in a tournament being televised from those he is in. The golf world, or at least the making money golf world, is looking at the impact of Tiger being out the rest of the year. Hmm. Wonder if there is some other passionate player out there looking at this as perhaps a time to really up his game. I admire Tiger Woods. Love to watch him play. He is one of the greatest athletes of our time. And what a fabulous gentleman. I hope this fourth surgery on that knee goes really well for him and recovery is all he could wish. I am also curious to see who steps up. Could be interesting.
    Hm. A triggering event …can you see them lining up now?

  17. I agree that the guts he displayed are inspiring, and that he had the discipline to not disclose the full extent of his injury was amazing…guess all those ads about his Dad teaching him mental toughness were true.

    I do have to question whether his wisdom is up to par; if he “ruined” his knee to the extend that it ends his career, I think he’ll regret being short sighted and focusing on winning this one tourney.

    I also contemplate the acceptance of painkillers as an okay form of performance enhancement, in a way I see it as disrespectful to his own body to put winning at such a premium.

    To me there isn’t much difference between that attitude and taking steroids or speed to improve performance.

  18. Great post, Brian. Too bad it looks like most of the commenters are missing a larger point.

    @ everyone: Yes, Tiger is an awesome golfer and his performance at the US Open demonstrates his character, too.

    But what this post really does is show us all how to take a current event and turn it into good, traffic-attracting blog content. Copyblogger is the last place you’d expect to see Golf coverage yet Brian created a compelling headline and great blog piece out of this seemingly unrelated news item.

    Another great lesson in copywriting – surprise!

  19. Scott,
    All due respect, you’re wrong. This is EXACTLY where I would expect to see a golf performance as a metaphor.

  20. LOL. But how many readers habitually visit Copyblogger for golf news? If all you see in that post is a good golf/performance metaphor, you’re missing the point I was making about using unrelated news items to create blog entries, too.
    Oh, well.

  21. Brian,

    “Tiger may have used his golf club as a cane, but he refused to use his injury as a crutch.”

    The best line I have read on the internet, and I mean the entire internet, in a long long time.

    The Masked Millionaire

  22. I would also like to say I am not a fan of golfing but I am a very big fan of Tiger Woods. He is an inspiration for anyone that wants to make it to the top.

    Never has anyone, on such a large stage and in plain and open sight of the general public, shown what it takes to overcome any obstacles in your way to grab the brass ring.

    Tiger Woods is amazing and someone that can be looked up to, no matter if you are a golf fan or not.

    The Masked Millionaire

  23. @Scott & Janice – I think the main point is the fact that he’s getting some kind of media coverage over it (from Copyblogger and others – which is what I think Scott is saying).

    I doubt he hoped for the coverage, but it goes to show when you have such a drive, heart, and love for what you do to the point you will test the boundaries of your abilities, people will start talking, even if you don’t.

  24. Scott,
    It is possible to understand form and function in all it’s nuances and yet discuss metaphors. I think we are all intelligent enough here to have gotten the point. To me it’s a given that superb lessons can be drawn from a variety of sources, or perhaps seemingly “unrelated news items” like this one, to offer rich and relevant analogies. No this is not ESPN. It is also not WWOZ, or the Rolling Stone. So what? Unrelated? Couldn’t be more relevant in IMHO.

  25. Scott, I’ve long believed that there are those who watch what I do, and those who watch what I say. Well, of course I’m sure there are some who do both.

    John, I think what Scott is saying is that the way I wrote the post is more useful to him them perhaps what I said. He watches what I do. I’ve heard from a few people who say that’s really why they read Copyblogger, which I take as a compliment. :-)

  26. Tiger Woods demonstrated the true focus of an athlete. A testimony of the strength of his mind and spirit.

  27. Jon- You make a good point. People are talking about the heart, courage , and grace of a competitor. I like what you said:

    ” when you have such a drive, heart, and love for what you do to the point you will test the boundaries of your abilities, people will start talking, even if you don’t.”

  28. That would be John. Oops.

  29. Brian,

    Awesome story…I watched the US Open’s 4 th round, then the 18 hole playoff, then the extra hole …and …

    Tiger just exemplifies the determination and the “swagger” that winners have. Not that Rocco was a loser at all, he played a great round of golf…

    But, he wasn’t going to win…Tiger was…because I firmly believe that circumstances align themselves when someone has “it”…and Tiger has lots of “it”…

    What is it?

    Just like Jack Palance in City Slickers said… “it” is just one thing, only one thing.

  30. I saw the whole 5 rounds and the playoff and Tiger pulled off a ‘miracle’.

    Rocco did great but he just got lucky one week, he’s no where near Tiger’s skill level.

    Look at Rocco and how many tournaments he won in his 40 year career, not even 10.

    Look at Tiger, he wins like 10 per year.

    If Tiger didn’t have the injury, I am sure he would have won the US Open by 5 to 10 shots.

    Too bad he really pushes himself, he should really took another 3 months off before playing.

    That might hurt him more if he has to wait longer to heal.

    Yes, Rocco doesn’t have “it”, maybe just for 1 lucky week but Tiger has “it” whether its a good day or a day with a bad knee.

  31. Great article, i found this when my feeling is bad. Thanks

  32. I love his class. A lot of people would be tempted to milk the injury, especially when talking to the media, and it’s cool that he didn’t feel the need to do that.

  33. When I have a Tiger Woods day on the internet is it still appropriate to have a double fist pump?

    Thanks for the great article, I will let out a Tiger Roar and it will be heard all through out the internet.

  34. Great blog posts.

  35. well yeah, I agree with Alex. Thanks for the post.

  36. @ Brian – Hearing people say that has got to be the best thing you could hear. I only hope one day to hear that as well.

    @ Janice – no problem about the spelling. I just don’t want to be referred to as “Jack.” Anything but “Jack.” (hint: look at my last name) ;)

  37. Brian,

    Thank you for this post. Kind of nice to see how someone can reach such a pinnacle in their profession and still be able to maintain some dignity and class. A lesson a whole lot of people could, and frankly should, learn from.

  38. Excellent use of a current event as a metaphor. Nice work, Brian.

  39. @John- ROFLOL !

  40. Tiger didn’t mention it, or need to “whine” about it because in his mind it was a non issue. He said he was going to play in the US Open and win it. End of story.

    I know I will think twice the next time I think about saying ‘ouch.’

  41. I wasn’t thinking of Tiger when I wrote this post today, but it’s complementary, and I love the athletic analogy:

    http://coachlisab.blogspot.com/2008/06/are-you-playing-like-champion.html

    “No excuses. Play like a champion.”

  42. Outstanding post about an outstanding athlete and the take away for marketers was icing on the cake.

  43. I heard about this and could not believe it. His pain was in complete silence. He has a lot of guts and this just shows how much he is dedicated to the sport.

  44. Anyone who has been through ACL replacement surgery knows it is NEVER as easy as the doctors tell you.

    And typing this comment with 7 broken fingers is no easy task either. They could be!

  45. Having watched the entire U.S. Open another thing that struck me was a commercial they repeatedly ran where Tiger’s now deceased father speaks about Tiger’s mental toughness.

    That mental toughness is what separates the good from the great in any endeavor. The great don’t make excuses, they don’t keep doing things they already know don’t work, and they aren’t afraid to invest in themselves because they’ll do whatever it takes to develop and build on their talents to win.

    Great post!

  46. A great metaphor indeed. Thanks for the inspiration, Brian. As for the 25% loss in TV ratings (revenue), I’m not feeling sorry for the golf world. That’s what happens when you putt all your eggs in one basket.

  47. Just FYI, Woods’ ACL injury occurred about 10 months ago. He has won nine of 12 tournaments since then including the U.S. Open, Tour, and PGA Championship. The stress fractures were a result of intense rehab from the surgery he had a couple of months ago.

    One thing I loved was Tiger’s answers to questions like, “Is the knee getting worse?” He gave straightforward “yeses” and made a comment to the effect of “It’s only pain,” when it was quite obviously excruciating.

    I simply cannot resist this one: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology… Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”