Tiger Woods has had quite a year-actually he’s had a terrific 3 months. While playing decently but not contending in the first half of 2018, Tiger persisted and was determined to find “it” and find “it” he did. He started the year with the satisfaction that he was able to play without pain and compete on tour. He wasn’t really contending and had considerable difficulty finding the fairway with a driver. It’s amazing to me that a professional of his caliber couldn’t find the fairway but we have to understand that he’s trying to find the fairway 300 yards off the tee to keep up with the new breed of young tour players such as Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson. After missing the cut at the US Open at Shinnecock, it didn’t look like the Open Championship at Carnoustie would be the place to turn it on. On Sunday, he emerged to the top of the leaderboard before making an ill-advised flop shot on the par 4, 10th hole–that bogey and one other would be the difference in a loss to the unflappable and somewhat boring Francisco Molinari’s victory. Tiger was still missing fairways and putting inconsistently but his irons and short game began to present opportunities despite the inconsistency. He then finished second alone with a closing birdie at the PGA Championship at steamy Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. Despite a few loose shots that cost him dearly, the pieces were beginning to come together including the driver and the putter. He rolled into the Fed Ex Cup having moved 1173 places in the world rankings from 1199 to 26. I don’t know if anybody has kept records on this but this has to be the most significant year to year improvement in the world rankings in history. He contended in all 3 Fed Ex Cup events and has to be considered a factor at East Lake for the Fed Ex Cup championship.
Why Tiger Isn’t Winning Tournaments
Unlike 4-5 years ago, when Tiger was racking up wins on the PGA Tour-he was an intimidating factor on Tour–competitors wilted under the pressure of playing him and the crowd factor–playing in Tiger’s group is almost like being at an NFL game as the golf fan wants Tiger to win again and is pretty vocal about it. . The intimidation factor is gone and players want to compete against him–some of them such as Justin Thomas and Jordan Speith were kids playing junior golf and playing imaginary games against Tiger. This new breed of player relishes the competition and will not succumb to the pressure of playing against him. These players know that Tiger remains an icon in drawing the casual golf fan to watch the PGA Tour and this year’s TV ratings verify this notion.
If I were Tiger, I’d lose the red SWOOSH on Sunday–it is a vestige of a time gone by–recognize that and start a new trend–wear a white SWOOSH or something that will say–I’m competitive now and I’m going to beat you kids at your own game. I’m still the “King” of this gang.
Jim Furyk smartly chose Tiger and Phil Mickelson to play in this year’s Ryder Cup as Captain’s Picks. I’m not sure about Mickelson because he’s not playing consistently well at the moment but has significant experience in the event. Tiger’s selection is a great pick since he will be a terrific mentor to the rookies on the team and may even find himself playing with them. If he continues to play as he has done in the last 3 months, I believe the US is a lock to win the event in Paris. Tiger has gone from Ryder Cup non-player helper to participant on the team.
I’m still a little disappointed in the mano a mano match between Tiger and Phil during the upcoming
Thanksgiving weekend that I believe can only “tarnish’ Tiger’s year. We did a poll on the event a few weeks back and it was nearly unanimous that there is little support for the event as “PAY TV.” I put it in the context of MMA and professional boxing. People would watch it if it is non regular or cable TV as something to do during Thanksgiving weekend as they flick their TV’s through the myriad number of football games that are broadcast that weekend. The participants in the poll also felt that the purse should be for charity and not a $9M pay day to the winner of the match. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as a PAY TV–I won’t be watching for $89.95 or even $49.95–I could be buying a brand new dozen maybe two of new VICE golf balls.