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.