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From the start of Tiger’s return earlier this season to this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, predictions of a Tiger victory have poured in consistently.
At every event he participates in, it seems there is one reason or another that this particular tournament or venue is perfect for a victory. As fans and media alike, are we expecting too much of Tiger?
I can say without a doubt that I have not been on that train since his return. I believe Tiger will win again, maybe even in fact win a major. He will though not touch Jack’s record and I think it’s okay if he doesn’t.
Tiger’s greatness is not hinged on reaching 18 majors. His greatness lies in what he has done for the game. Woods has 79 career victories and 14 major wins. He has introduced golf to the masses like no other player in history including the king himself, Arnold Palmer.
What has changed
Tiger took a few years off because of personal struggles and injuries and has returned to a PGA TOUR that is nothing like the one he left.
The PGA Tour is teaming with players that grew up watching Tiger and wanted to be as good as him. Unfortunately for Tiger’s comeback, that exact scenario has happened.
When Jack Nicklaus hit his mid-40’s he was not winning with any regularity and that is because the players that were entering their prime were as good or better than he was at that point.
The same thing has happened to Tiger. Since his return, the current field of the PGA Tour is littered with players that are at this point in Woods’s career, better than he is.
Because of that, the players do not fear him like the players have in the past, which is unlike the early stages of Tiger’s career.
Another hurdle Woods has to contend with is for the first time in his career, he has some glaring issues. His putting is nothing like what we have seen from him in the past, and more importantly, his ability to make those putts on a Sunday is lacking.
He still drives the ball well and he can hit miraculous shots. He will still make great putts and he will do all this because he is one of the greatest golfers of all time.
Phil Mickelson made a comment in an interview this past spring that was very accurate for not just him, but any golfer over the age of 40. He stated that he still plays great golf and for a round or two he may be better than he was in years past. When it comes to putting together four straight rounds of great play, it’s never been more difficult.
Country Music Legend Toby Keith wrote a song about this same phenomenon. “I’m not as good as I once was, but I am as good once… as I ever was.” (As good as I once was)
That is where Tiger is and likely will be from point forward.