Tiger Woods certainly put on a display at the Blue Monster this past weekend, just as he had at Torrey Pines earlier this year. In between, though, he had that rather pedestrian effort at the Honda and an inglorious dumping at the WGC Match Play. So for me, the jury is still out on his “return.”
Here’s why: Tiger absolutely owns Torrey Pines (8 wins) and Doral (7 wins). Combined, those two alone are a Hall of Fame career. In addition to Torrey and Doral, Tiger has won seven times each at Palmers’ Bay Hill and at Firestone, home of the WGC Bridgestone. Those four courses account for 36% of his wins. Throw in the Memorial (5) and the Masters (4), and those six account for 38 of his 76 wins. That’s 50% of his wins on just six courses.
In contrast, Jack’s 73 wins include 6 at Augusta, four at Pebble Beach (three Crosby titles, and one US Open) and three at the Tournament of Champions at LaCosta. As far as I can tell, along with St Andrews (2), Baltusrol (2) and his own Memorial (2) those are the only multiple wins on a single course. So Jack’s percentage of wins on his top 6 courses was 26%. That means, of course, that his other wins were spread out over a lot more courses.
But this isn’t a Jack vs Tiger piece. My purpose is to ponder the meaning of Tiger’s two wins thus far in 2013. I’m not sure what conclusion to draw, other than that Tiger can win on courses where he is comfortable. That’s been the trend in Tiger’s career. I think you can safely count him as a favorite, but by no means a lock, at the Masters. Augusta apparently is the least favorite of his personal playgrounds. I also think it would come as no surprise to see him win at Bay Hill, The Bridgestone and the Memorial.
Heh. If someone at PGA Tour HQ really wanted to screw with Tiger, they could move the tournaments away from his five favorite tracks. He might never win again.
The only sure thing, I think, is that with Tiger playing better than he has in years, television ratings for the events he deigns to play will be up. That, and the bettors will have him as the favorite in every tournament he plays.