Tiger Woods has gone and done it.
He couldn’t be content to simply win the Bridgestone for the eighth time – he had to lap the field by seven shots, raising expectations to such lofty heights, at least amongst the media and the bettors, that Ladbrokes now has him at 3-1 for the PGA this week at Oak Hill in Rochester!
Those are the kind of odds that Woods drew back in the days when he actually won majors, not just gave some indication that he was ready to do so.
So, while an increasingly large percentage of golf fans believe that Woods is primed to win his record tying fifth PGA, and to prevent another shut out in the majors, as he did in 1999 and 2007 when he won Glory’s Last Shot, I wonder what the man himself thinks.
Woods’ big problem is that the major’s version of Woods can’t putt like the PGA Tour player can because the pressure of winning them has gotten to him. While he putts like a demon during those easy-for-him-to-now-win regular tour events, he just can’t “get the speed right” at the majors.
And so, despite his many tour wins (five in just this season) he is like a player trying to get the monkey off his back, one that is gaining weight, and one that has been resting on his shoulders for the last 17 big four competitions.
Since winning his last major in 2008, the closest Woods has come to winning (as measured by his position at the finish line) is three big shots – at the 2009 PGA and at the 2010 US Open – both of which he threw away on the back nine on Sunday. So, despite his claims that he’s “been in the mix” in half of the majors since Torrey in ’08, he actually has not.
The disconnect between Major Championship Woods and PGA Tour Woods really stands out when his record in each category is put side by side. He is, of course, that well documented 0 for 17 in the majors. At the same time, he is 14 for 51 in regular PGA Tour events. Now you would think that a player who has already shown the mental strength and the game to win 14 majors would have sprinkled in, say, at least 2-3 more within those 14 tour wins.
But not this Tiger, for this one has changed his stripes for a brand of choking that leads to collapses at the majors well before the finish line is in sight. He knows it, we all know it, and he knows that we are watching to see what he does about it. Can this Tiger regain his bite, or has he lost his Sunday growl?
My advice is simple – dump that Sunday outfit (the red shirt and black pants) for something that signals the birth of a new Tiger, one armed with his Foley Swing, a Zen like approach to putting, and the belief that the majors are his birthright, and that no one is going to deny him, least of all himself.