At what point we start to worry about Tiger Woods? With on-going signs of a bad back and continued signs of poor play, is Tiger’s season, or possibly even his career, in jeopardy?
Don’t roll your eyes just yet, I’m just getting started.
I tend to hold off on opinion of players until the sample size is large enough to evaluate. That is simple statistics. However, dive a little deeper into Tiger’s numbers and one or two alarm bells start ringing.
Is it time to stop hitting snooze and wake up to the fact this is getting serious? Allow me to play both sides of the debate:
Argument: “He is hurting, but he’ll be ready for Augusta”
No doubt, Tiger’s finished in the top-6 at Augusta in 8 of the last 9 Masters. However, he is in the midst of his largest-ever, 22-event, major drought. Whilst he has been close at Augusta, he hasn’t exactly be in with a chance (i.e. within four shots) of winning since 2008.
“You know if he gets in contention, he’ll close it out”
Perhaps, but don’t forget he blew his last 54-hole lead at his own event at Sherwood Country Club in December and hasn’t lead a Major going into the last round since 2009, when he lost to YE Yang at the PGA Championship. Since Tiger last added silverware to his Major mantelpiece, 19 different players have won a major, 15 of them for the first time. Are we really still in the Tiger-era?
“Whatever, he can’t be in a slump, he won 5 times last year”
True, but he hasn’t won for 11 events. That might sound like much, but he’s only had three longer win-droughts in his career (and only one in the last 10 years). In fact, Tiger hasn’t registered a top-10 in an official PGA Tour event in over six months.
“It’s still very early in the year”
Is it really? We’ve already had 16 PGA Tour events this season. For the first time in his career Tiger hasn’t registered a finish inside the top-20 in his first 4 events of the year. In four events, he has finished MDF, T41st, WD, T25th. For a guy that cherry picks his schedule, is that not worrying?
“Well he has shown signs of potential”
Yes he has, but so has my 3-year old niece. Winning events takes four rounds. Four good rounds, not one. Tiger’s played 265 holes in 2014 and he is 5-over par. That folks, is not good. By comparison, “in-a-slump” Rory McIlroy is 28-under having played just one more event.
“Ok, but he’s been injured”
Exactly. And it’s not even his knee. Back problems in golf are no laughing matter, just ask Fred Couples or Ben Hogan. Tiger seems to be clenching his back more than he is clenching his fist in celebration. He keeps telling everyone he’s fine, but the last 18 months have been full of concern for his health.
“Whatever you say, he is still number one in the world”
Yes. For Now. Five wins will do that. But look closely and you’ll see that Adam Scott has a very good chance of becoming #1 in the coming weeks. Tiger’s lead in the world rankings is the lowest it has been more than 10 months. Anyone that knows the rankings system knows that the rankings tend to show ‘what have you done for me lately’. Tiger’s five wins in 2013 are loosing influence each week.
Listen, I am not writing Tiger off. Any golf fan knows better than that. I just think ‘the field’ has more than caught up. And they’re younger and healthier than Tiger.
All golfers go through slumps, just look at McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott or Henrik Stenson. My concern is that Tiger’s form may be impacted by his injuries. The best thing for Tiger, the game and all us fans is if he goes off, gets healthy and drives down Magnolia Lane ready, and able, to compete.
The Green Jacket brigade even did him a favour this year, removing the tree that caused Tiger to injure his knee in 2011.