Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Tiger (in)Effect(tive)

Time is winding down on the PGA "regular season". The last Major of the year, The PGA Championship, is this week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Before we look ahead, let's jump into the PGA Time Machine.

It was at this same tournament last year in which I attribute the "beginning of the end" of Tiger's reign. After 54 holes, Woods had a lead on the rest of the field at Hazeltine National GC. Who would have ever bet against him? He had never lost a 54-hole lead in a Major. Ever. Y.E. Yang changed all that when he shot the best round of the day to overcome Sunday Tiger. Yang silenced Woods and we really haven't heard him roar since then (at least not on the golf course). Tiger had missed the cut at The British Open and finished sixth at the Masters earlier last year. Before we jump off this time machine, let's take a look at Tiger's last Major win. Anyone remember when it was? Anyone? It was the 2008 U.S. Open in that epic against Rocco on one bad knee.

Now, back in real time, Tiger continues to struggle. Last week at the Bridgestone Invite, Tiger shot his worst round as a professional with a 298 (+18). The Tiger Effect that once made any man in his path wilt is no longer, well, effective. If you told Anthony Kim, that heading into Sunday you'd be paired with Tiger Woods and you would beat him by two strokes, Kim would say, "Sounds like I am winning the thing". Alas, that only meant that Kim finished tied for 76th. Woods isn't hitting the shots that made him untouchable in the past. Others are now beginning to catch up to his abilities. I recall a certain stretch of Sunday's round of The 2010 Masters where Phil Mickelson was on fire. Lefty was knocking down shots out of the trees, making eagles and charging his way to the top of the leader board in a "Tiger-esq" method.

Woods doesn't see, "how this kind of golf can be fun...especially since my handicap is suppose to be zero". Who could blame him?
Should Tiger have ever returned to the Tour after his admittance of betrayal? Some are questioning it, including myself. I have been outspoken on my thoughts about Tiger and his ability to succeed since he has returned.

Now we begin the final Major of the year Thursday. How will Woods bounce back from his worst tournament ever? In his previous worst round, Woods finished 53rd with a 293 (+5) in the 2005 Players Championship. His next tournament, the Masters, he finished first. In fact, most instances where Woods fires a plus-290 one week, he rebounds in his next 72 holes. So if history tells us anything, we can not discount Tiger this week at Whistling Straits. But then again, this isn't the same Tiger is it?

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