No Major…Tiger

Sixteen events played. Five wins. Eight top tens. Ten top 25’s and all the cuts made. On the face of it, 2013 seems to have been another one of the (insert yawn) Tiger Woods dominated years on the PGA Tour. Added to this there were also the small matters of more than $8million worth of winnings and the Player of the year prize. So, same old, same old for Mr. Woods. Or so it would appear to the untrained eye.

 

Delve a bit deeper into the statistics of 2013 and one would see that Woods has come up woefully short in the one area of the modern game he covets more than any other: the Majors. The last year would be one Tiger would rather forget when it comes to the biggest stages in golf. His scoring also let him down as it came to a combined 10 over par for the year at Augusta, Merion (US Open), Muirfield (The Open) and Oakhill (PGA). Not the kind of record one would expect of Tiger and not one that his great start to the season promised.

 

So what went wrong for Tiger in the Majors in 2013 and is there any chance that he can have a better 2014? Swing Thoughts investigates.

 

Play it again Sam

 

If one studies Tiger’s records and schedules it becomes clear that he loves certain golf courses and simply cannot win on others. It is insightful to notice that even though Woods has won 14 Majors, he has done so on only 8 courses (Medinah, Valhalla, Southern Hills, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines, St. Andrews and Royal Liverpool). To his critics this has been an indication that Tiger can only win on courses that suit him and to his fans an indication of his ability to dominate some very tough courses.

 

However, any way you look at it, it seems that Tiger’s lack of motivation to play the courses that he does not play well on might be backfiring on him. Take into account that Tiger had never won at any of the Major venues for 2013 before (bar Augusta), and as one can see by his scoring at Merion, Muirfield and Oakhill were definitely not in awe of the Woods reputation.

 

So what to do? It is essential, as with all us normal folk, that Tiger gets exposure to conditions and maybe even tours that he is not used to. It is interesting to note the little amount of golf Woods plays outside the US and this might also have led to him not competing so well in the Majors.

 

Thus in his search for Majors 15 to 19 Tiger might have to search farther a field (Asian Tour or European Tour) to get his Major mojo back. Or as the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.

 

Nothing to fear but fear itself

 

In the last few years many columnists (myself included) have noted that the fear that younger players had of Woods when he was at his dominant best has waned. One need only look at the host of younger players who have won Majors recently to see that these “millenials” have very little respect for their most famous “elder”.

 

Although this theory holds water it might be the reverse that has caused Tiger to regress so dramatically in the Majors the last five years. Could it be that the fear that Tiger once engendered in younger opponents is now the fear they are causing him? Goodness knows Tiger is not stupid or naïve and he will be painfully aware that younger and healthier individuals are vying for his crown.

 

Add to this that he is also not the healthiest 37 year-old on Tour, having had multiple surgeries and lay-offs caused by several failing body parts, one can imagine Tiger hearing the sands of time run out on his body more than his game. Thus instead of counting up to 19 Majors as he did in the first part of his career, he is in all likelihood counting down the opportunities he may still have left to get past Jack’s record.

 

A simple sum will do nicely to illustrate this point. If Tiger starts to win Majors again next year it will be his first in roughly five years. Thus if he is to pass Jack he will need to win five more Majors in the next ten years. Why ten years you ask? Because in 10 years Tiger will be 48, the same age at which Julius Boros won the PGA Championship in 1968 to become the oldest ever Major winner.

 

So although Tiger might win until he is into his forties, it would be interesting to see if the Rose’s, Scott’s and Dufner’s of the world will allow it. They might even inflict a bit of their own intimidation on a weary Tiger.

 

2014

 

Before the Tiger fan club chastises me for an unnecessarily harsh review of a great year for Tiger, I have to add that there is a silver lining to the dark Majorless cloud of 2013. In fact I truly believe that he will win a Major in 2014. What do I base it on?

woods 1

My positive assessment of Tiger’s chances to get to number 15 in 2014 has more to do with the venues than his form, physical fitness or his psyche. Of the three Majors that have rotating venues, two will be played on courses where Tiger has won Majors before: Hoylake and Valhalla. While we all know what Tiger can do at his beloved Augusta.

 

Thus, if I were a betting man, which I am not, I would wager a bet on Mr. Woods getting his Major act together in 2014. Goodness knows he needs to; otherwise it might be too late for the biggest cat of his generation.

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