WILL TIGER WOODS EVER BE the same? That’s a burning question as Tiger begins his 16th season on the PGA Tour this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. It has been nearly 500 days since Tiger last won on the PGA Tour. It has been two and a half years since he won his 14th major at the same course where he begins his 2011 campaign.
The boys are not afraid of Tiger. They give him respect, as they should, but they believe he is beatable. The boys are very good. And there are more of them. This will make Tiger’s latest comeback harder.
I expect Tiger to groove his new Sean Foley swing, especially with the irons. I’m in the wait-and-see camp when it comes to his driver. Even when Tiger’s swing was at its best through the years, he hit far too many crazy-wild drives. They appeared out of nowhere. I think he’s a head case when it comes to the driver. Foley can’t solve that.
My hunch is that Tiger will not reach the same dizzying heights in golf. He’ll still win, but not as much.
Will he catch and pass the majors record of Jack Nicklaus?
I’d put that at even money. I won’t be shocked either way. I’m leaning toward no. I just don’t see Tiger being as dominant. That’s not a knock, especially when you consider the run he’s had.
One of Tiger’s short-term problems is regaining his confidence. Winning breeds winning. Not winning breeds frustration and despair. Whatever you point to as the reasons—and there are plenty—Tiger hasn’t won in a long while. It has eroded his confidence. He is human, after all.
Finally, I’ve noticed for nearly three years that Tiger doesn’t have the same magic on the greens. I’m speaking primarily of the majors. I think I first detected it at the 2008 Masters. Except for his epic playoff victory at the U.S. Open that same year, Tiger’s putter has been suspect at recent majors.
Last year, I was aghast when Tiger complained about the greens at Pebble Beach. Can you imagine the 2000 Tiger griping? That kid rolled in everything on Pebble’s crusty putting surfaces.
Indeed, the putter may be Tiger’s biggest long-term problem. He wouldn’t be alone. All the greats eventually lost their mastery of the greens, except for the man Tiger is chasing. Nicklaus putted exceptionally well throughout his long career. Tiger will need to regain his clutch putting touch if he hopes to overtake Jack.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)