Will Tiger Ever Prowl Again?
Although the PGA season actually began back in October (the first year of the split-season which covers 2 calendar years), Tiger Woods didn’t officially make his season debut until this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, in La Jolla California. The anticipation was high. Sure some guys had already played in 4 or 5 tournaments this season, but they didn’t play against the world’s number one player. Tiger has won 8 times at Torrey Pines, including last years Farmers Insurance Open and it’s the same course that he outlasted Rocco Mediate for the 2008 U.S. Open in a playoff. He owned this course and once again all other would be playing for runner-up. But this isn’t 2008, or 2006 or 2000 when Tiger would routinely show up at a tournament and walk away with the trophy. He became so good that he curtailed his playing schedule so that he could focus on the four majors, the only real tournaments that Tiger cared about.
So here he is in La Jolla this weekend and guess what happens? He stinks the place up. Can’t find a birdie to save his life, he shoots 6-over par and misses the cut. He shot a 7-over 79 in his third round, right there with Will Claxton and Bobby Gates. That’s who Tiger is now, just another Will Claxton and Bobby Gates. I know what you’re thinking, everyone gets to have an off day, a bad tournament, Tiger is judged too harshly. Sorry, but that’s the way sports works. The best have a different standard. That’s why Tiger doesn’t play in the Colonial or the Byron Nelson or dozens of other tournaments – they don’t mean anything to him. He plays in the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship, and any tournament around those majors that might give him a warm up for the majors.
If Tiger is going to catch Jack, and let’s face it, that’s all he lives for, then he better start showing up. He’s right about one thing, it is all about the majors…for him. Any other shlub on tour would have a full career with just what Tiger accomplished last season. Five tournament wins, Player of the Year and over $12 million in earnings. But he could win 50 more Farmers Insurance Opens and if he doesn’t catch Jack in the majors column, his career will have a major gap.
Who would have thought that the night Tiger mowed down his mailbox in Florida, and all of his dirty laundry was aired, that he would cease to be the world’s most dominant athlete? It’s now been 5 full seasons and 22 major tournaments since Tiger held up one of the four big trophies. Will he ever do it again? We all expect him to turn it around and once again become Superman, but as we saw last weekend, he’s not the same. He was fully charged up heading into Torrey Pines. No surgeries or injuries, apparently he’s in a happy relationship with Lindsey Vonn, plays catch with his kids but still he comes to one of his favorite courses on the planet and can’t even break par.
The Maters is several weeks away, but I’m saying right now after what I saw, we all saw, I don’t think he’ll win a major this year. On top of that, I think his chance of catching Jack is less than 50/50. One bad night in Florida might have cost him immortality.