Good days and bad days, but the bad days get a little more frequent. Tiger Woods was poised after Friday to regain his Majors momentum, and one prominent writer felt it was in the bag after Woods charged to the lead on the back nine on Friday afternoon. From a 27-hole stretch late Friday until late Sunday afternoon when he fell out of contention, Woods had 9 bogeys, 1 double bogey, and a single birdie.
While the attention was on Woods entering the weekend, it was Webb Simpson who accomplished what many were expecting of Woods, posting a good number and then putting pressure on the leaders. Even after Saturday, Woods could still have been in contention with the type of round he is capable of, a great round of 67 on a tough course. If he had just shot a 141 over the weekend, he would have been in a playoff. 141 was tough on the weekend, but 14 of the 72 golfers playing over the weekend managed it. If Tiger had been top 20% after having the lead, he’s sitting at 15 majors. Instead, he was closer to bottom 20% — his iron shots were just a little inexact, he couldn’t get close enough on the fast greens to get on any kind of roll over the weekend.
So what he’s shown is that he is golf mortal recently, and that the standards are different for him. Mickelson was way worse, last year’s winner, Rory McIlroy — younger and with none of the off the course narrative — was way worse. I kind of feel like Tiger is never going to be back to the dominance, but that’s to be expected, but that he is back to being JATG (Just a Top Golfer). I suspect he wins a major in the next calendar year now more than two weeks ago, and will still be ahead of Nicklaus’ pace at the same age. Good days, and bad days, but he’ll have a tournament where the good rounds outnumber the bad, unlike this one where it was a draw.
You might be surprised to know, by the way, that Tiger is contending in the same percentage of majors since 2007 as he was before — the difference is finishing and truly dominant performances like at Pebble Beach or the Masters in 1997. From 1997 to 2001, he was Top 10 in 60% of the majors he played, and won half of those he was Top 10. Same thing from 2002 to 2006. Since 2007, it’s 11 of 18 in the Top 10 (61%) but only 2 wins of those 11.
So JATG, but if he contends in about 60% of them over the next few years, he’s going to break through and win. He’s just not going to keep running away from the field like he once did. By the way, from age 36 to 39, after winning his 14th, Jack finished Top 10 in 13 Majors but won only once.
[photo via US Presswire]