Tiger Beats A Golfer; Ties Another.

Woods Has Turned Into A Bunny.

Thank god for Henrik Stenson.  The Swede was the only man keeping Tiger from finishing last at the Bridgestone Invitational.  A lot of people wondered when Woods would start making headlines with his golf.  Well…here we are.  The gigantic and confounding failure that was Woods’ week in Akron leaves the entire PGA Tour in an odd and uncomfortable state of limbo.  This isn’t how it is supposed to be.  The Tiger will be back camp have been beating their chests for months now, talking about Pebble, St. Andrews, his rust and everything else. But, now we are miles past any deadline for a physical recovery for Woods and his game looks worse than ever.  How much longer will Tiger need?  Or, could it all really be over?

The 18-over par week was easily the worst 4 days Tiger has ever put together as a pro.  It was different from his early struggles at Quail Hollow and different from the Tiger that had been struggling with various parts of his game.  The precision driving we saw at St. Andrews was gone this week, and so was every part of Tiger’s game.  He hit the fewest fairways and nearly the fewest greens while putting worse than almost the entire field.  Where else was Tiger going to end up, except 30 shots out of the lead?  I can’t help but think this is a new low for Woods, who often gets plenty of TV coverage when he’s on the fringes of contention, but none of that was to be had this weekend.  He was on a plane for Whistling Straits before most people finished their pancakes Sunday morning.  For the first time in his career that I can remember Woods was just another guy who had a terrible week, and not even CBS could sugar coat his play.

Of course Tiger still holds down the World’s Number 1 ranking, which is a stat that reflects his previous dominance and Phil Mickelson’s inability to close out several opportunities to capture the top spot.  The ranking holds almost no prestige  for Woods anymore, though.  I don’t know an intelligent golf fan anywhere that could argue Tiger is the best player in the world right now.  Perhaps he could have been given the benefit of the doubt, even through this week, but that’s gone now.  Along with being number one in only nominal terms, Tiger has lost all the intimidation that went along with his previous standing.  Some argue that the loss of Woods’ aura is due to his off-course issues, but I think it’s taken several months of mediocre play to hammer the notion home.  Sure, Tiger wasn’t the man many people thought he was, but if was still dominating, his on-course presence would be the same.

As Woods spirals downward, questions that would have been unthinkable not long ago begin to present themselves.  The one at the forefront right now is, should Tiger be left off the Ryder Cup team?  Up until this week there was a feeling that Woods would play his way onto the team.  Now it would take a very strong finish at the PGA, and there is no reason to think that is going to happen, not at Whistling Straits, a course that right now looks like it was designed to be Tiger’s worst nightmare.  The Tiger of old would have taken the doubt, the suggestion that he couldn’t do something, and charge to a victory.  He had unrelenting fight.  It seems that is gone now too.  I thought Quail Hollow was the first time I ever saw Tiger quit on the golf course, but after listening to some quotes after today’s round, I think this is the first time Tiger has ever felt helpless.

Woods said that golf isn’t very fun for him right now, and his statements after the round lacked his trademark forced jokes or aggravated shortness.  Previously it had been, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another…hahaha,” but Tiger doesn’t look to have the energy for that anymore.  He’s lost, and frustrated, and could possibly be in dire need of an extended break from competitive golf.   So with an obvious lack of desire, and a game that would have him struggling on any Tour, why would Tiger ever want to play and why would Corey Pavin ever pick him?  Well, Woods will likely decide his own fate in a meeting with Pavin this week, where the two will discuss Tiger as a Captain’s pick.  If Tiger wants to play, he will play, even if he shoots 85-85 at Whistling Straits.  The problem is, I don’t think Tiger wants to play.

So, if Tiger is mentally absent and wants no part of Wales, what will happen?  Remember that the PGA Tour runs the Ryder Cup.  It is their pet project, a great interest generator in the game.  There is no one that generates more talk than Tiger, and his absence from the event will hurt its stature.  Woods missed the ’08 version with an injury, but with the Americans coming off a string of ass-kickings, their was a built-in storyline.  If Tiger doesn’t play this time around, with the event overseas, we’ll likely see a similar situation to the ratings disaster that was the 2010 Open Championship.  I don’t think the PGA of America could strong-arm Woods into playing, but I’m sure they want him there, and if he doesn’t play it will be interesting to see how it is handled.  Could Tiger possibly come up with another nagging injury? Does he take all the heat?  Does Pavin step-up and call it his decision?  We’ll find all this out this week, and we’ll continue to wait and see if Tiger shows any signs of living up to his world ranking.

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11 thoughts on “Tiger Beats A Golfer; Ties Another.

  1. I think the daily grind of just being Tiger Woods at this point is destroying his game. One day he’s probably feeling ok, like maybe things are starting to look up, the next Elin is hammering him on something, it has to be such a waffle for him. How can you possibly play consistent, good golf with your personal life constantly going up and down like that? I think if Elin had either stayed or if he had just given in right away it might be different. He’s mentally tough, i just think the fact that every day is an exhausting grind on him, just no consistency one way or the other, is too much. He’s struggling to just get out of bed.

  2. Yeah, I don’t think Tiger should be playing. He looks like a wreck, and because he’s not mentally there, his game is in shambles. All these poor results are just putting holes in the armor if and when he returns to form. The more I read about it this morning, the more it sounds like people expect him to play maybe once after the PGA (at Barclays if he qualifies).

  3. See, i think his aura of invincibility can be re-attained. Like when Rivera a few years ago had a stint of like 5 straight saves that he blew and people were like “oh we can get to him now”, specifically the Sox thought they had his number. Now how’s that look? It will come back, if he comes out and goes on a tear next year. The only question is whether you believe he can get on that tear.

    I hope he makes it to the BArclays, i want to heckle the eff out of him.

  4. I guess I’m skeptical of him going on a tear. I think Rivera is a good comparison in some ways, just because of the mental nature of closing. I think golf kills you mentally, and closing baseball games is like that to a certain extent.

    There just aren’t many cases of golfers coming back to peak form after an extended slump, no matter the reason for it, and this is now a slump for Tiger in my opinion, and a different kind of slump than the ones he’s been in before.

    I think everyone has always assumed the rules don’t apply to Tiger, but now we’re seeing that at least some of them do. He can’t ignore what he did in his personal life, and I think it’ll be hard for him to reach a level that approaches his previous heights again.

    Hope he goes to Barclays though, for your sake.

  5. I just hate that Corey effing Pavin is the captain. Can’t there be a height restriction on this c-rag?

    I want my captain to hit a tracer with a 4 iron to d-length instead of floating a 4-wood through the air from 180. Not that the captain is going to hit a shot, but it’s just good to know he’s a mans man and not playing with Mrs. Havercamp’s clubs.

    • haha.

      I hear you. Pavin can be incredibly annoying, from his height to his hideous VAS irons back in the day.

      He doesn’t scream captain, but the US is in a real lull in terms of captains.

      I mean, I guess this was supposed to be Azinger’s year if Payne Stewart had taken 2008, and that bridges the gap to Davis Love???

      Without Payne, I think there was at least one year without an obvious choice and you have Fred, but he’s been taken by the Presidents Cup, so you are left with guys like Pavin, or Calc? Mark O’Meara? It’s a crappy pool to choose from.

      I’m often torn on Pavin as a player as well. His ball flight makes me want to throw myself off a bridge, but there’s a good chance that if golf was contested on executive courses, he’d be the greatest player of all-time, and there’s something to be said for that.

  6. I do think there’s a little overreaction to the “bad year” Tiger is having, given his performance in Majors. He hasn’t won, so yes it’s certainly a bad year for him, but really it’s just been very inconsistent and he’s had some decent finishes. For a guy in this kind of turmoil, that’s why i think there can be a resurgence. He’s not missing every cut or disappearing entirely, and i think with him in a better mental place he can still turn this thing around.

  7. I might agree with that somewhat, but I also think the good finishes at Augusta and the US Open can be a bit misleading.

    At Augusta the course allowed him to get away with mistakes. At Pebble, he played one incredibly hot round. He still played pretty well those weeks, but if that’s his ceiling, that’s a really low ceiling for him. To not have a win, to hardly threaten, to miss cuts, nearly finish last, it’s a significant drop off in performance.

  8. Definitely a drop in performance, i mean it more like if this is his worst case scenario given all that’s going on around him, i think it bodes well for a comeback.

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