Falling From The Grace of the Golfing Gods

I think that everyone soon may have to accept the notion that Tiger Woods will never be the same. When his troubles first began a year ago, pundits said he soon would get his game back on track—and pointed to early success at The Masters as evidence. But as the summer continued, he showed only fleeting signs of his former greatness. Tiger’s season mostly was a matter of a good round here followed by a mediocre or bad round there. That’s the work of a PGA Tour journeyman, not a golfing master.

In the last PGA Tour event of the season, the HSBC Champions, Tiger managed to struggle to a tie for sixth, but a full eleven shots behind Eduardo Monliari. And most recently, he finished fourth in a field of four in a skins event in Thailand. That wasn’t exactly an all universe field, consisting as it did of Camilo Villegas, Paul Casey and Thongchai Jaidee. Tiger managed to win just one of eighteen holes.

I’m gong to go out on a limb and say that Tiger’s days as the World’s Best Player are over (but I’ve been saying this for some time). This is not to say he won’t win the occasional tournament. He may even win another Major (I think another Masters is likely). I’m just convinced that Tiger’s days of dominance are over. You simply can’t win big tournaments with an irregular game. I’m not convinced his regular game is ever coming back.

There’s much precedent for such a fall from the grace of the golfing gods, both recent and historical.

In 2001 David Duval won finished second at The Masters, won the Open Championship and was on top of the golfing world. Then several physical (some say mental) ailments led to a crash as spectacular as any ever seen. In recent months, he has shown flashes of the old Duval—even finishing second at a US Open—but he just doesn’t seem to be able to put together four consistent rounds. Ernie Els is another example—not quite the same since the freak boating accident tore his knee. Sergio Garcia—once a contender—has so lost his game that he was reduced to cheerleader at the Ryder Cup. And then there’s Ian Baker-Finch . . .

Most of the greats had but a brief period of glory—a natural ebb to a player’s golfing tide. Nicklaus, ever the standard, won his majors over 17 years, not including his improbable 1986 Masters. Ben Hogan had an eight year Major lifespan (though you have to give consideration to the injuries). Hagen won all of his over fifteen years. Gary Player, the ageless wonder, spread his victories out over eighteen years. Arnold Palmer won all of his Majors over a seven year period. Sam Snead—another ageless wonder—won his over twelve years. Gene Sarazen had thirteen years of glory. Lee Trevino put it all together over seven years, with an outlier ten years later. Faldo also ruled for seven years.

Tiger’s span has been 13 years—longer than all but Nicklaus, Hagen and Player. That’s a long time to stay at the top of any athletic endeavor. Even without his personal failures, Tiger was aging, his knees going gimpy and his killer instinct fading. In 2009—though perhaps with the weight of his sins on his shoulders—he was just a little better than ordinary, with a second, two T-6 and a cut in the Majors. We all know the story in 2010.

Tiger’s next outing is the Australian Masters, where he is reigning champion. That’ll be Nov. 11 – 14. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares.

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4 thoughts on “Falling From The Grace of the Golfing Gods”

  1. The question is, what is the correlation to TW’s winning ways with all the behind the scenes activities?!

    There must have been some sort of hormonal balance or something in his physical system, or even his psyche which was fed by all the sexual conquests? 

    Did those activities give him some sort of additional mojo which translated onto the golf course?

    Is the solution for what ails Tiger’s game to return to the playboy lifestyle?

  2. He is great, without a doubt.  Anyone who can be in an adjoining fairway as often as he is on the drive, and end up Green in Regulation is a great shotmaker. 

    I would also say that Tiger also had more than his share of luck.  Some used in golf shots – many of which any of us can recall in our heads at this moment, and then a lot of luck used juggling a hundred women without his wife or the tabloids finding out.

    But another factor was intimidation.  The only person who appears to be intimidated now is Phil, but certainly not any other competitor.  Was it Yang who failed to wilt against Tiger that first started to fracture that intimidation factor?  It may have started in an earlier major last year.  But whenever it did, the fracture turned to a full break this year, and Tiger can’t at this point fully regain that level of intimidation again after his personal and professional falters of the past year. 

    And then his confidence, which is now shattered too.

    So 4 things lead to his winning the way he did : Skill, Luck, Intimidation, and Confidence.  3 are gone, and he is left with Skill.  That’s not enough – Phil proves that. 

    Then you have physical well being.  As I have said on here before, Tiger’s body has been beaten much worse than Jacks was at 35.  Tiger has stressed his body though weights and practice and work, work, work—Jack never did that – he wasn’t in great shape, but he hadn’t stressed his body to near breaking points so many time like Tiger has.


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