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Can Woods still win the majors?

March 11th, 2013 · 6 Comments

Following his command performance in winning at Doral this weekend, it would be tempting to say that Tiger Woods is officially back.

  • Woods has won 3 of his last 15 starts last year on the PGA Tour.
  • He has won 2 of 4 starts in 2013 on the PGA Tour.
  • He’s won 5 of his last 19 PGA Tour starts
  • Finally, Woods has won 5 of his last 15 non-majors – stats that are similar to his dominating years

Now he must prove that he can still win majors, which is really the point of the massive effort he’s made to rebuild his game and his life after November, 2009. But can he? I’m not so sure. Yes, he can win on the courses he feels comfy on, and that he has a long and rich history of Ws. He’s proven that.

The majors, however, are different – way different. He wants them so much more, he is in an almost five year slump since winning his last – which has to have an impact on his confidence in them, and they are played on courses that may not be so well suited to his game.

Woods used to win regularly at Augusta, but after notching four Ws there from 1997-2005, he’s 0 for 7. As a result, many now rightfully question his ability to win at Augusta – in part because of his driving, but also because of his putting, which has run ice cold every year since he blew the 2006 edition on the greens.

The U.S. Open will be played at the short and tight Merion Golf Club, a course that Woods has never played in competition. In 2002, Woods contended for 36 holes at Muirfield, the site of this year’s Open, but  then faded to a 28t, 6 shots back of winner Ernie Els (and three others).

Woods has an opportunity to match another of Jack Nicklaus’ feats at the PGA at Oak Hill with a win on this tree lined course, but this is not the type of layout on which he typically does well – the last time the PGA was played there in 2003 Woods finished 39t, 16 shots back.

The venues in 2013 provide a series of question marks, and Woods’ performance in the Grand Slam events in 2012, which included a series of weekend collapses, showed that he is not completely back.

Masters – 72-75-72-74-293  -  40t – 15 shots back
U.S. Open – 69-70-75-73-287  -  21t – 6 shots back
British Open – 67-67-70-73-277  -  3t – 4 shots back
PGA Champ. – 69-71-74-72-286  -  11t – 11 shots back

After his win yesterday, Ladbrokes his established Woods as the favorite at 5-1, odds similar to those of his golden years. Rory McIlroy and three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson are second at 8-1.

If Woods is completely back, it’s time to prove it at Augusta. If not, then he may find it difficult to end his major’s slump in 2013.

Tags: PGA Tour · The Majors · Tiger vs. Jack

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 BD // Mar 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    I doubt very many people think Tiger CAN’T win majors anymore. The fact that he is again winning events at his career rate (i.e., about 1 out of every 4 events) suggests that it’s only a matter of time until he wins another major. I can’t think of any particular reason why he would be “back” to where he was for purposes of regular Tour wins but would no longer have the ability to win majors.

    Of course, being capable of winning majors is no guaranty of actually winning. Conceivably, Tiger could dominate the Tour by winning something like one event per month, yet HAPPEN to get shut out of the next 40 or so majors due to bad luck, untimely injuries, etc. However, if we assume Tiger is good for say 20-25 more Tour wins over the rest of his career, and given the schedule he plays, it’s reasonable to think that at least some of those wins will be in majors.

  • 2 Phil Capelle // Mar 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    BD – I suspect that he will another major or two. but with so many players, there is a disconnect between their tour game and their game in the majors. Could this be the new Tiger, or will he resume his major winning ways? Now that he his healthy and is winning again, the only thing that would stop him is some mental weaknesses that has crept into his game.

  • 3 Michael Cambridge // Mar 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Augusta Tiger-Proofing should be mentioned for Tiger’s slump at the Masters. Tiger is the only human athlete to be handicapped by his sport. It’s taken years, but August and other venues have successfully slowed Tiger down. Like adding more and more weights to superior race horses.

  • 4 Michael Cambridge // Mar 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Golf courses were never impelled to Jack-Proof.

  • 5 Phil Capelle // Mar 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Hi Michael – There are two ways to look at the lengthening of Augusta – Yin: the longer course has taken away his advantage. Yang: if he could drive better, his long and accurate tee shots would give him a weapon that would give him a big edge. As for not Jack-Proofing, the distance the ball traveled remained constant. I think that, rather that Tiger Proofing Augusta, they were bringing the course more in line with the distance that the modern ball travels, as so many other major championship venues have been forced to do.

  • 6 Michael Cambridge // Mar 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for the solid reply on the Tiger-Proofing of Augusta!

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