Worth Your Time: "Breaking the Slump"

Watching Tiger Woods, perhaps the most mentally tough athlete of all time, dominate the PGA Tour, you can forget how insidiously difficult golf actually is. It's such a lonely game, especially when played in front of huge galleries and millions of TV viewers. It isolates athletes like no other sport, setting them out there on the grass, all alone, with just their clubs, the ball, their talent and their twitchy, tortured minds.

In his new book, "Breaking the Slump," NBC sports reporter Jimmy Roberts takes us inside those minds, and it's as hideous and fascinating a tour of anguished psyches as you will find outside of a medical library. In other words, a must-read. Roberts interviews 17 pros, including Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, about their "darkest moments in golf." He writes with wit and insight about "slump shame … a particularly pathetic form of self-loathing," and Norman's historic collapse at the 1996 Masters, when he blew a six-stroke lead in the final round and finished five shots behind winner Nick Faldo.

But the most powerful chapter is the one on David Duval, whose fall from greatness (No. 1 in the world in 1999) to near oblivion (he's currently ranked 834) has mystified golf fans for years. The blood chills when Duval, not yet 30, having just won the 2001 British Open, turns to a friend and says, "I would have thought it would feel better than this." It was his 13th tour title in five years—and his last.